Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

aka: "Les Tortues Ninja", Gekikame Ninja Den, TMHT, TMNT, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, Tortugas Ninja
Moby ID: 6932
Arcade Specs
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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.

Spellings

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

Groups +

Screenshots

Promos

Credits (NES version)

Music Composer (uncredited)
Music Programmer (uncredited)

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 65% (based on 51 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.3 out of 5 (based on 160 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

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 (1748) · 2007

They really kowa-bungled this one.

The Good
Ok, so I'll admit I was not a huge Turtles fan when they were all the rage, which is the same time that this game was released. Still, I did watch the animated TV show sometimes, and it could be entertaining enough. The promise of a good game with a popular license appealed to me back then just as it does now, so I was looking forward to the release of this game on the NES. Unfortunately, it was a disappointment back then, and it continues to disappoint after all these years.

The game’s basic concept is good: put all four Turtles (and their different weapons) at the player’s disposal, and force the player to swap them out and play them one at a time. It feels a bit awkward at first, but you get used to it, and it gives the game a surprising RPG quality. There is significant strategy involved, as you need to select a Turtle based not only on the weapons you want to use in a given scenario, but also based on his remaining health. You may want to use Leonardo, but if he’s at death’s door, you’ll need to call on another Turtle and hope he gets the job done.

The Bad
Once we get beyond concept to execution, things start to go downhill pretty fast.

The graphics are unimpressive. Yes, the Turtles and their enemies are represented by nice, large sprites. This comes at a price, however, and the tradeoff is not worth it. There is far too much flicker and slowdown when you get more than a 4-5 character sprites onscreen at the same time. The combat animations are also quite slow, which further detracts from the uninspired gameplay.

The sound effects are adequate but nothing to write home about. The music is all-too-typical NES fare. It’s catchy, memorable, and incredibly annoying. Still, I give the programmers credit for getting in a decent rendition of the Turtles theme song. Too bad we don’t hear it more often.

Sub-par graphics and sound aside, this game sinks like a stone due to aggravating and unsatisfying gameplay. The Turtles do not control like teenage ninjas here. They do not dart, slash, or soar gracefully through the air. Instead, they slowly lumber around like a bunch of card-carrying AARP members. They are too sluggish when you command them to attack with their basic weapons. Hit detection is pretty sloppy, and the fairly frequent flicker/slowdown makes the problem even worse.

Worst of all, the hack-and-slash action of later TMNT titles is largely absent here, replaced instead with some highly frustrating platform jumping. Because your Turtles are not especially agile, and because they are almost always forced to operate in tight quarters (there is little-to-no headroom in the buildings and sewers), you will have to attempt even fairly short, easy-looking chasm jumps multiple times.

When you fail, you fall. When you fall, you have to fight your way back to your previous position, with all of the recently vanquished enemies having fully regenerated. Sometimes you have to repeat one jump before you can repeat the one you missed before, and if you miss that one, you get set even farther back. Yuck. This is not the best way to add replay value to a game—especially when the game isn’t much fun to play in the first place.

There are some underwater bomb-defusing sequences which break up the monotony of the 2D platforming bits, but they offer up their own set of frustrations and disappointments. The variety helps, to be sure, but it’s not nearly enough to save this game. When you aren’t having fun with a game, the path of least resistance is to quit playing it. That’s what I did with TMNT, and I bet you will do the same.

The Bottom Line
Challenging, but also frustrating, and simply not much fun. My advice: Save your money and Turtle Power for TMNT 2 and later sequels. They’re better than the first TMNT game in every way.

NES · by PCGamer77 (3158) · 2009

[ View all 5 player reviews ]

Discussion

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

Trivia

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.

References

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

Title

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

Amiga versions differences

There are two versions of this game on Amiga. The main premise of them is exactly the same but there are some differences in other areas:

  • US version was titled "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles". It was published by Ultra Games, developed by Unlimited Software Inc. and released on 3 disks. The graphics were exactly the same as in NES version. The controls in the side scrolling part were slightly more complicated. The player fights by pressing the fire and by holding the fire the character jumps.
  • European version was titled "Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles". It was published by Image Works, developed by Probe and Daisysoft and released on 1 disk. The graphics were more colourful and "remastered" in comparison with NES version. The controls in the side scrolling part easier - the player fights by pressing the fire and by pushing the joystick up the character jumps what was more natural.

Awards

  • 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 +

  • MobyGames ID: 6932
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Contribute

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Jony Shahar.

Commodore 64 added by Quapil. Arcade added by Michael Cassidy. Wii added by Sciere. Amiga, Atari ST, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum 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, mailmanppa.

Game added July 15, 2002. Last modified January 17, 2024.