Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

aka: "Les Tortues Ninja", Gekikame Ninja Den, TMHT, TMNT, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, Tortugas Ninja
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Description official descriptions

With April O'Neil held hostage by The Shredder's thugs, Bebop and Rocksteady, once again, it's up to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to come to her rescue! Play as all four of the turtle heroes, rescue April, and then rescue your sensei Splinter from Mecha-Turtles clutches, and then go after The Shredder deep in the bowels of The Technodrome itself.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is an action game based on the late eighties/early nineties cartoon series of the same name. Play as Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Donatello and Raphael (one turtle only, but the ability to swap between turtles at any time) as you save your friends and battle The Shredder and his cronies. There are no 'lives', as such - when you lose a turtle, he becomes 'captured', and you cannot use him again until you rescue him from a place hidden in the overworld.

Gameplay takes place in two perspectives: a top-down view, which lets you run around and explore buildings, sewers and other places. When entering places from the top-down view, the perspective shifts to a side-scrolling view, where most of the battling takes place. In addition to each turtle's main weapon, sub-weapons (such as shuriken) can be acquired, to use at foes - these have a limited use.


  • げきかめにんじゃでん - Alternate Japanese spelling (Hiragana)
  • 激亀忍者伝 - Japanese spelling

Groups +



Credits (NES version)

Music Composer (uncredited)
Music Programmer (uncredited)



Average score: 65% (based on 52 ratings)


Average score: 3.3 out of 5 (based on 158 ratings with 5 reviews)

Is it Castlevania or Ninja Turtles?

The Good
The graphics are sharper, though that improves nothing, and the music is up'd a lil' bit, like more bass. The controls with a CliffRacer NES controller adaptation works really, really well. And the Wii emulation saves your current status, so that's a bonus that the computer versions had, and that works well for me. I don't know if it's intended or not, but some levels are harder and some easier than I recall on the original NES version, could be due to the emulation not computing numbers right.

The Bad
The music's volume is extremely low, and I have to turn my TV up to around 40 to listen, which the Wii's menu is around 15. That's no good. Then the Wiimote stinks for this game, or any NES game for that matter, and the Classic Controller blows because of the lame-ass mapping that somebody at Nintendo can't get right to this day (has Nintendo even notice how our hands hold a controller?). I had to buy from CliffRacer an adapter to use my original NES controllers because of the bad mapping. Then the actual layout of the game...was Konami going for Castlevania in the City or something? To this day, people love/hate this game.

The Bottom Line
This is not a review of the actual game, but a comparison review of the Wii's VC version compared to the gem of the original. Seems like Konami was in a hurry to cash in on the TMNT movie "craze" that never happened (bad movie or something? I don't know.). It's not bad, it's just not better. I'd just avoid it and go get the 360's arcade game instead. (And don't get me started on the MS-DOS version of this game!)

Wii · by Fake Spam (85) · 2008

Go Ninja, go Ninja go!

The Good
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) is the first in a series of NES games based on the popular TMNT franchise. As the first entry in the game series it will inevitable be compared, unfavorably, to the later TMNT video games. I think that some of this criticism is indeed unfair.

Where as most subsequent TMNT games opted for a straight-forward, hack n' slash, beat-em up along the lines of Double Dragon or Golden Axe, this first TMNT video game gets a bit more creative in terms of gameplay.

TMNT combines a healthy dosage of blistered thumbs action, rudimentary sand box concepts and cerebral adventure game puzzles. To be successsful in this TMNT game you have to be the sort of well-balanced, ninja who can do more then just kill.

An early underwater level forces you to carefully swim around deadly seeweed, while disarming a series of bombs. If you simply treat this as a standard hack n' slash, beat-em up game, you will not be able to survive this level or most other levels.

Later levels in TMNT encourage you to explore – on foot or by vehicle – fairly urban locations. The early sand box concept is quite nice for a NES game and forces the player to do more then just kill everything in sight.

Yes, this game has no shortage of arcade action. The side-scrolling, arcade action format is utilized whenever you enter a building, in the sand box world, the sewers or, in the game's climax, when you go inside the dreaded Technodrome.

TMNT allows you to switch between the Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Donatello and Raphael during the game's action. In the NES each of the turtles has some different advantages and disadvantages, which adds a layer of adventure game strategy to the arcade action.

For example, Donatello's weapon has the longest reach, but other turtles may start out with more hit points or have weapons that are better at close range fighting.

When one of the heroes dies, he really only gets “captured”. Maybe this was a necessary concession to get the game approved by Nintendo's censorship board.

The “Big N” (as gamers use to refer to Nintendo) wanted to make sure that any game designed for a Nintendo system, even if it was designed by a third party developer, had a “family friendly” level of video game violence. If such a thing actually exists.

However, it does add more strategy to the game because you can locate and rescue a turtle. The sand box overhead levels have the main missions that you need to complete to beat the level, but they also have some side or optional quests – like saving a fallen turtle.

TMNT features some nice graphics and animation for a NES game that was probably designed in the late 1980s. Likewise, the game features some nice music and sound effects for an early NES game.

The basic storyline involves you trying to rescue April O'Neil and, after she is rescued, Master Splinter from Shredder.

It is not terrible too complicated, but it serves its purpose for an early video game.

While the TMNT game's artwork reflects its original comic book days, the original graphic TMNT graphic novels were probably too gritty and mature for the Nintendo censors.

The sanitized, "family friendly" TMNT T.V. cartoon series that was airing at the time (probably in its first or second season when the game was being developed) didn't give the game's developers too many more workable story ideas.

The Bad
TMNT for the NES is not without its faults and these are the sort of faults that are probably tolerated much less by younger generations of gamers.

For starters, TMNT is too difficult for most younger gamers who were introduced to the franchise through the cartoon series (and its toy line). The level of difficulty is not just high, but sometimes annoyingly so.

For example, the controls for the underwater level seem to have been borrowed from the first Super Mario Brothers NES game. This is simply absurd way to design the level.

I do not want to insult anyone because of their age, size or ability. I also realize that it is just a video game and not reality.

However, one would think that a highly trained, young ninja turtle would swim better then a middle-aged, well-fed, plumber. At any rate, TMNT makes it very, very, very difficult to make careful and precise movements underwater.

Now in Super Mario Brothers this difficult is not as much of a problem because your character has an offensive weapon while underwater and is not trapped in fairly claustrophobic conditions.

In contrast, the TMNT underwater level requires you to carefully swim around in a very small and tight environment.

The TMNT underwater level is loaded with sea weed and bombs. The sea weed rapidly takes away hit points if you touch it, which, given the poor underwater control design, tends to happen more often then not.

The bombs will explode, unless you can quickly disarm them all. Yet, finding the bombs requires you to carefully swim through tight, underwater paths admist an orgy of deadly sea weed and without the use of any weapons.

Logically, the TMNT – even the sanitized cartoon Turtles – would have enough training to not only swim better, but cut up sea weed into little piceas. Heck, the Turtles live in a large, urban sewer!

Beyond just this particular level, the main faults with the game tend to involve seemingly minor game play problems, which rapidly increase the game's frustration level.

Most of the side-scrolling levels take place indoors, and oftentimes your hero will come into contact with a roof, which creates more tight, platforming levels.

Hence, while each playable character can easily jump and the animation used is quite good, oftentimes you do not have room to jump. This can be frustrating when you have to make very, very precise jumps or else your character will fall down a few of the building's levels and have to retrace his steps.

The icons scattered throughout the game are helpful – i.e. pizza can restore some hit points, rope can help you cross certain rooftops.

I have to say that I do wish that later TMNT video games featured the cool boomerangs, shuriken and magical fireballs. These projectile weapons are necessary to complete the game and allow the player to do more then just hack and slash.

However, very little pizza can be found in the game itself, and you oftentimes have to risk losing more hit points just to grab the pizza icon. Similiarly, the rope is necessary to complete one puzzle in the game, and again, there is not a lot of extra rope icons in the game.

While the projectile weapons are nice, only the bare minimum of these icons are scattered throughout the levels.

This tends to undermine the exploratory and experimental elements necessary for a successful adventure game or sand box .

Simply put, if you “waste” any of the weapons or pizza found in the game, will not be able get anywhere in the later levels. This is especially noticeable in the final level inside the Technodrome.

All of the TMNT enemies constantly reswpan and often require several direct hits to kill. This means that having to retrace your steps, because you missed a platform, is all the more frustrating.

It also means that your precious hit points tend to go pretty fast fighting what should be rather minor evil minions.

This makes it even harder to have the strength needed to take on the bosses. much less the final battle inside the Technodrome.

Unless you have a certain number of very healthy Turtles, and unless you have certain number of projectiles, especially the magical fireballs, you will likely be unable to make it very far in the final level, much less defeat Shredder.

Once all of your turtles die (or get “captured”), it is Game Over. Period. The first TMNT NES, unlike its sequels, does not have hidden Easter Eggs that give the player extra lives or a level select option.

Even if they did, it is pretty much impossible to beat the final level unless you collected lots of the powerful projective weapons in previous levels and (while doing that) have managed to keep all of your heroes healthy and strong.

The Bottom Line
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the Nintendo Entertainment System features some nice, 8-bit graphics, animation, music and sound effects, especially when you consider that this was designed in the early days of the NES system. It adds in some basic sand box and strategy adventure gaming elements to keep the arcade action from growing stale. This is probably one of the most difficult games designed for the NES and sometimes the level of difficulty is more frustrating then fun. Highly skilled players, willing to tolerate the game's rough spots, will enjoy the game.

NES · by ETJB (431) · 2014

Evil. Nostalgic Evil.

The Good
As far as "Turtle" games go (outside of the arcade, anyway), this was one of my most-played adventures with the green foursome. The graphics were accurate to the characters, the story felt more in line with the comic than the cartoon, and it's one of the few games that allows players to use the Turtle Wagon (running over Foot Clan members was morbidly amusing) as well as alternate weapons outside of the character's signature combat choices.

The graphics gave accurate depictions of the characters, and a nice diversity in levels. The game treated character "deaths" more seriously, as a downed member was removed from the team. Fortunately, players can hunt down and free a captured teammate, giving another chance to continue the game.

The game had a decent storyline as well. Typical for the Turtle mythos, but unfolded well within the premise of the game via nicely detailed cinematics (still new and novel for the time).

The Bad
Where does the "evil" in my review header come from? Anyone who has ever played this game should know: The Dam Level. Trying to diffuse the bombs in the time allowed, with loose control and questionable collision on the seaweed was an exercise in madness, and clearly too difficult for the target audience. It was possible to get through, but it was not a "fun" level.

The game itself was very hard, and in most cases unforgiving. Keeping all four Turtles healthy was a difficult task in later levels, and it was not out of the question to lose one Turtle after another due to not finding health, powerful enemies, or just being surrounded with no escape. The final battle with Shredder was a joke as one hit could kill a Turtle, and continues were limited as is.

The characters themselves were unbalanced. Donatello was a powerhouse. While slow, he had a reach that was almost vital to the completion of many areas. If he was knocked out, the game's difficulty definitely became more challenging as he could no longer reach higher level enemies. Raphael, on the other hand, was fairly useless with his limited range. Control over the characters seemed spotty at times, especially when jumping.

Being a more straightforward adventure, the game is one-player only, but in regard to the game's adventure-based design, having four Turtles on one screen would be a mess.

The Bottom Line
When this title was released, "Turtle-Mania" was in full effect, and early issues of Nintendo Power promising a "Turtles" game was too good to be true.

Getting the game on the other hand, was a mixed experience. As a player, you wanted to love it, but for a kid, there were sections that were fairly ruthless. Too powerful enemies, questionable control issues especially with jumping puzzles, unbalanced characters, and that Dam Level.... It's still referenced within my circle as one of the most hated NES levels ever.

And yet, there were parts that I did like about this game. Once you got past some of the problem areas, there were some genuine moments of fun and enjoyment in searching through the levels.

It's hard to say if childhood nostalgia blinds me enough to the flaws the game had. I may give this game a try after all this time, as it is rumored to come to the Wii's Virtual Console soon. This title is not based on either of the arcade games, which were the strongest titles in Konami's "TMNT" franchise. And on the same note, the NES game can't seem to decide whether it wants to follow the comic or cartoon series more. But it does offer some interesting gameplay additions that would have been nice to have seen explored in future installments.

Worth a try for a platformer/Turtle fan, but just keep your patience in check. You're going to need it.

NES · by Guy Chapman (1746) · 2007

[ View all 5 player reviews ]


Subject By Date
Why is it so hated? Simoneer (29) Mar 17th, 2009


Copy protection

TMNT was one of a few games from the period that featured copy-protection via a code sheet printed on so-called "copy proof" paper. This is dark maroon paper with black ink which most black and white copiers would not be able to copy in a readable form. The code sheet which was stapled into the game manual, featured hundreds of four digit numbers in a grid which you needed to look up to get into the game.

Buggy DOS version

The DOS version of the game released in the USA is infamous on its own right. Apart from being usually derided as a poor game (nothing unusual when it comes to games covering comic book, film or TV licenses), a glitch made it impossible to reach the end of an intermediate stage. The only way to reach the further stages was by using passwords. Apparently the UK version of the game (labeled as "Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles", as opposed to "Ninja Turtles") corrected this bug and can be finished without cheating.

Cover art

The reason why the Turtles all wear red masks on the cover is because that's how it was in the comics.


In the movie The Wizard, Jimmy is seen playing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at the arcade at the Casino in Reno.


The translated Japanese title is "Ultra Turtle Ninja Legend".


  • Electronic Gaming Monthly
    • December 1989 (Issue 5) - Most Eagerly Anticipated Game (that was released) (NES version)
    Information also contributed by Dan K, gamewarrior, and Robbb

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Related Sites +

  • Howard & Nester do Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
    A regular feature in Nintendo Power magazine, Howard & Nester was a comic strip about two game whizzes who would one-up each other, while disclosing hints and tips, in the settings of various recently-released games for the NES platform. In the July/August 1989 two-page installment, Nester helps the Ninja Turtles get through level three of their own game... and much pizza is eaten.
  • NinjaTurtles.com
    All sorts of info on the movies, comics and video games
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Wikipedia
    article in the open encyclopedia about the game
  • Under Manhattan
    A shrine site for the TMNT series

Identifiers +


Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history!

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Jony Shahar.

Commodore 64 added by Quapil. Arcade added by Michael Cassidy. Wii added by Sciere. Amiga, ZX Spectrum, Atari ST, Amstrad CPC added by Martin Smith. MSX added by koffiepad. NES added by Jeanne.

Additional contributors: Rascal, Jeanne, Shoddyan, Tibes80, chirinea, Foxhack, Alaka, Martin Smith, Pseudo_Intellectual, Игги Друге, François-Patrick Arteau, Neville.

Game added July 15th, 2002. Last modified September 12th, 2023.