Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989 video game)
|Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles|
The box art was taken from the cover art for the second print of the TMNT #4 comic book. It was drawn by Michael Dooney.
|Series||Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles|
|Genre(s)||Platform action game|
|Distribution||Cartridge or Floppy disk|
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, originally released as Fierce Turtle Ninja Legend (激亀忍者伝 Gekikame Ninja Den?) in Japan and later as Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles in Europe, is a 1989 platform game for the Famicom/NES. The game was released in Japan through Konami themselves, then in North America through Konami's Ultra Games imprint, followed by a release through the European equivalent, Palcom Software, in PAL regions.
This was the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video game, and is based on the 1987 TV series, which was in its third season at the time of the game's original release, although the art style more resembles the original TMNT comic series. The game was ported to various home computer platforms in 1990; the original NES version was ported to Nintendo's PlayChoice-10 arcade system in 1991, and the Wii's Virtual Console service in 2007. It was taken off the Wii Shop Channel on January 26, 2012.
The gameplay in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles begins with an overhead view used for navigating around the mission map, switching to a side view whenever the Turtle being controlled enters a manhole or a building, similar to Castlevania and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Enemies can attack the player while exploring in the overhead view; Foot Soldiers, Roller Cars (effectively steam rollers), and in later missions, even aircraft can assault the player. However, the Turtle can strike back with his weapon or, in Mission 3, either missiles or cannon fire from the Party Wagon. Once inside a sewer or a building, the player encounters enemy characters such as Fire Freaks (beings of living fire), additional Foot Soldiers (who jump, kick, and throw shurikens), and Mousers. The player can also acquire weapons and special items, and collect pizza to restore health. A screen accessed with the Start button shows a summary of each Turtle's health and whatever special weapon he has picked up, a map grid of the current area (not available inside Mission 6, the Technodrome), and messages from either Splinter or April O'Neil. A Turtle who runs out of health, falls into a fatal trap such as a fire pit, or is run over by a Roller Car, is not actually killed; instead, he is captured by the enemy, losing whatever special items he had acquired. Captured Turtles can be rescued starting in Mission 3, though only one Turtle can be freed per level.
In the second half of Mission 2, the Turtles dive into the Hudson River to find and disarm a total of eight time bombs that have been planted at a dam. In this level, the Turtles must navigate a number of traps, such as electrical currents and electrified seaweed, with a time limit of two minutes and twenty seconds to find and disarm all of them.
A number of items can be picked up during the quest, including shurikens (throwing stars), triple shurikens (allows the launch of three shurikens simultaneously in a spreading pattern), boomerangs, and the "Kiai", a scroll that expands into a crescent-shaped beam and inflicts devastating damage on even boss characters. These items are occasionally dropped by enemies. Other items, none of which are dropped by enemies and can only be found lying around in buildings or sewers, include "Anti-Foot Clan Missiles" for the Party Wagon in Mission 3; ropes for crossing wide gaps between buildings; and Mr. Invincibility, a turtle-head icon that supercharges a Turtle for several seconds, making him impervious to attack and able to instantly kill any enemy with a single hit. There are also three kinds of pizza that can be retrieved: a single slice of pizza restores 25% health (two life boxes); a half pizza restores 50% health (four life boxes); and a whole pizza restores the Turtle's entire life gauge. The Turtles can attack either with their standard ninja weapons while jumping, walking, or crouching, or use one of the alternate weapons that he has picked up along the way by pressing the Select button to choose one. The aforementioned ropes are used automatically from buildings with the appropriate pipes for making the connection.
The game was ported to various home computer platforms in 1990, including the Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and Amiga. The Spectrum version of the game was number 1 in the UK sales chart from March until August 1991. The DOS version is infamous, as it contains a gap that is impossible to cross without cheating.
It was also released in 2007 on the Wii's Virtual Console. It was released for the Wii in Europe and Australia for 500 points which was later raised to 600 Wii Points. In North America, it was released for Wii on April 2, 2007 for the price of 600 points—100 points more than the average NES game—due to a licensing issue. This is the very first licensed game to appear on the North American and European Virtual Console. Due to licensing issues, it was later removed from the Wii Shop Channel in Japan on January 24, 2012 and in North America and Europe on January 26, 2012.
Reception and follow-up
The original NES version was a major success, with over 4 million copies sold. It was one of the best-selling third party NES games. A series of computer ports were developed and rushed out in time for that year's Christmas season, but did not fare nearly as well, commercially or critically. Despite the fact that this game was a success, it got many mixed reviews. The game received criticism for its difficult gameplay, being noted by many fans and critics as one of the most frustrating NES games ever made. However, the computer versions were even harder due to sloppy programming and controls. The PC port notably has an impossible section where the player must jump over a low-hanging ceiling and cannot avoid colliding with it and falling into the sewer (the game however has cheat codes that allow this level to be skipped). Other people were disappointed that the game was not an arcade port as expected.
The NES game does not have a save feature (which adds to the difficulty since the game must be completed in one sitting), although the computer ports do.
In 1989, Konami also released an arcade game, also called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In 1990, it was ported to the NES as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game, as a follow-up to the original NES game, even though it wasn't a "true" sequel (in terms of gameplay). The second game had stronger ties to the TV series (including using the cartoon's art style), more straightforward beat 'em up gameplay, and support for 4-player simultaneous play (2 players for the NES version). This new style became the standard for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games for the next few years.
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- Hunt, Stuart (April 2013). "Cheap as Chips – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles". Retro Gamer (Bournemouth: Imagine Publishing) (114): 30. ISSN 1742-3155. OCLC 489477015.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at GameFAQs (Famicom/NES version)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at MobyGames
- Complete Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video on archive.org