Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters
TMNT Tournament Fighters print ad.png
North American print ad for all three versions of the game. Each version of the game featured a different Turtle as the cover character facing off against an opponent from that particular version.
Junichiro Kaneda
Ayako Nishigaki
Kazuhiko Uehara
Hideto Inoue
Harumi Ueko
Miki Higashino[1]
SeriesTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Platform(s)NES, SNES, Genesis
  • NA: February 1994
  • NA: September 4, 1993
  • JP: December 3, 1993
  • PAL: December 1993
  • NA: September 4, 1993
  • JP: December 8, 1993
  • PAL: December 1993
Genre(s)Fighting game
Mode(s)1 or 2 players

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters, or Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles: Tournament Fighters in Europe, is the title of three different fighting games based on the characters the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, produced by Konami for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Genesis, and Super NES and released during a period between 1993 and 1994. Konami produced a different fighting game based on the franchise each featuring a differing cast of characters for the platforms. All 3 versions of the game will be rereleased as part of The Cowabunga Collection for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC on August 30, 2022.[2]

NES version[edit]

NES screenshot (Hothead Vs. Hothead)

The NES version of Tournament Fighters was the final game Konami released for the platform in North America and the PAL region in 1994. Unlike the other versions of Tournament Fighters, it was not released in Japan. Tournament Fighters was one of the few fighting games released for the NES during the fighting game boom.

The game's single-player Story mode has the player taking control of one of the four Turtles (Leonardo, Raphael, Michaelangelo, and Donatello), as they hold a contest amongst themselves to see who is fit to take on Shredder's challenge. After defeating the first three opponents, the player proceeds to fight Casey Jones and then Hothead (a character based on the Dragon Warrior from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures comics and the action figure of the same name) before the final match with the Shredder. In addition to the Story mode, the game also has two Versus modes (one against the CPU and another against a second player), as well as a four-player tournament mode. An option mode where the player can adjust the game's difficulty, continues, and speed is also available.

The gameplay follows many of the standard fighting game conventions. Battles consist of three-round matches and the first player to win two rounds is the victor. Each character has their own repertoire of basic punch and kick techniques, as well as command-based special moves. During battle, a flying monitor with Splinter's face will sometimes appear that will drop a red ball power-up at the middle of the stage that can be retrieved by either fighter. Whoever retrieves the ball power-up will be able to use it by inputting the appropriate command.

The NES version allows the player to match any character against a clone of himself, with the exception of Hothead. The game does not allow such a match under normal circumstances, but there is a way to bypass this restriction in the game's "Vs. CPU" mode. The second Hothead will be colored differently, as with all same character matches in the game, but the game will also flicker due to the large size of both characters.

Super NES version[edit]

SNES screenshot (Leonardo vs. Aska)

A tournament has been organized and many fighters have entered, Shredder being one of them. The Turtles decide to participate in order to stop their nemesis as well as proving their strength in the tournament.

This game's controls use a four-button scheme (two punches and two kicks, weak and strong). A particular feature is the possibility to use a super special attack. In order to achieve this, the player must fill a green bar under the life bar, by hitting their opponents. Once full, the player must press the two strong attack buttons simultaneously. There is also the option of enhancing the speed of the game, making the fights more intense but also more difficult to follow.

In addition to the main and versus modes, there is a story mode in which the Turtles must rescue April O'Neil and Splinter from Karai's clutches. The Turtles must travel across the US in their Turtle Blimp, defeating other fighters and collecting information. Only the four of them can be playable whereas the other characters (as well as a turtle clone) are the opponents. There is no Mutagen Meter in story mode. There is also a watch mode, which features computer-controlled characters.

There are ten characters available, and two bosses. Aside from the Turtles and Shredder (who goes under the name of Cyber Shredder in this game), these characters are also available:

  • War – A monstrous purple creature with big claws, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures comics published by Archie. The game version of the character is said to be an alien in the game's Tournament mode as well as a mutant by the Turtles in the game's story mode.
  • Aska – A ninja girl seeking to open her own dojo. Aska is an original character (created by Takemasa Miyoshi) who makes her first and only appearance in the franchise. She is inspired by Mitsu from the film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, and was originally intended to be Mitsu, but her character was renamed after the film's poor reception.[3]
  • Wingnut – A humanoid, alien bat who appeared in several issues of the Archie Comics series, as well as in an episode of the animated series.
  • Chrome Dome – An android from the animated series, he was initially created by Shredder to destroy the Turtles.
  • Armaggon – A mutant shark from the future. Also from the Archie Comics series.

The bosses are:

  • Rat King – A deranged man who cast away his humanity and considers himself a rat, even though he has not been mutated.
  • Karai – The leader of the Foot Clan in Japan. She had only appeared in the original comics by Mirage Studios at the time of the game's release.

Regional differences[edit]

The Super NES version of Tournament Fighters was later released in Japan under the title Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Warriors. There's also some more slight differences: Aska's outfit is more revealing and she has a different win animation. The turtles sound more like teenagers and their character icons are different.[3]

Genesis version[edit]

Genesis (Donatello vs. April)

The Genesis/Mega Drive version of Tournament Fighters was released in North America, the PAL region, and Japan around the same time as its SNES counterpart.

The Genesis version uses the standard three-button controller, with only two buttons for attacking (punch and kick). To perform stronger punches or kicks, the player must hold the directional pad towards the opponent while pressing either attack buttons. The third button is used for taunting. Some of the stages in the game feature destroyable scenery that gives the player and their opponent access to new areas in the stage. As well as their special moves, each character has a 'killer' attack which is only accessible when they are close to death and the red part of the characters' life gauge at the top starts flashing. This is done by pressing the Taunt button in conjunction with a specific D-Pad motion. These moves nearly take out the other character's life gauge completely.

The game has eight playable characters, which includes the four Turtles and Casey Jones, as well as April O'Neil (whose active role differs from the versions of the character featured in other games), Ray Fillet (a character from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures comics), and Sisyphus (an original character, named Musha Beetle in the Japanese version). The player can adjust their power and speed after selecting their character. The music in this version was composed by renowned video game composer Miki Higashino, in collaboration with Masanori Adachi.[4]

The main single-player mode features the turtles and their allies traveling to various planets in Dimension X, fighting against clones of themselves, as they seek to rescue Splinter from Krang. After defeating the eight clones, the player travels to the final three stages to fight against a Triceraton, Krang's Android, and Karai (in that order). The game has a two-player mode, as well as a practice mode in which the player faces the computer in a 1-round match, and a "Tournament" mode where the player must defeat 88 opponents with one life gauge.


In the United Kingdom, it was the top-selling SNES game in January 1994.[5]

The SNES version received positive reviews, whereas the Sega version received mixed reviews. In 1993, Aska was rated as #4 on the list of "Top Ten Fighting Women" by Electronic Gaming Monthly.[6] In the same issue Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the Sega Genesis version average reviews, noting the game is not a good as the SNES version and stating “There aren’t many moves and the fighters are unappealing. The game also has a darker look and feel.”[7] Mega magazine gave the Sega Genesis an average review score criticizing the games sluggish gameplay, unresponsive controls and stating “It’s an uninspired beat-em-up that’s borrowed everything from Street Fighter 2 but the gameplay.”[8] GamePro magazine gave the SNES version ratings (out of 5) of 4.5 for graphics, 4.5 for sound, 5.0 for control and 5.0 for fun factor.[9] GameFan scored the SNES version 369/400 and the Genesis version 248/400.[10] SNES Force gave the SNES version a 90% score.[11]

In 1995, Total! ranked the game 61st on its Top 100 SNES Games summarizing: "Not quite SSFII but almost. This is a shockingly good beat-‘em-up considering it’s a license.[12]


  1. ^ "Miki Higashino Interview: Retired Fan Favourite Speaks". July 2013.
  2. ^ "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection". www.konami.com. Retrieved 2022-03-16.
  3. ^ a b "Hardcore Gaming 101: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles".
  4. ^ "Game Music :: Interview with Miki Higashino (January 2012)". Squareenixmusic.com. Archived from the original on 2012-02-29. Retrieved 2013-09-01.
  5. ^ "Charts" (PDF). Computer & Video Games. No. 148 (March 1994). Future plc. 15 February 1994. p. 9.
  6. ^ Top Ten Fighting Women, EGM 53 (December 1993), page 66
  7. ^ TMNT: Tournament Fighters Review. EGM Media. December 1993. p. 48.
  8. ^ Mellerick, Paul (December 1993). TMNT Tournament Fighters Review. Future Publishing. p. 42.
  9. ^ "ProNews: Sorry, Turtle Fans!". GamePro. Vol. 6, no. 1. January 1994. p. 258.
  10. ^ Halverson, Dave; Rickards, Kelly (K. Lee); Cockburn, Andrew (November 1993). "Viewpoint". Diehard GameFan. Vol. 1, no. 12. DieHard Gamers Club. pp. 21–3. ISSN 1092-7212.
  11. ^ "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters". SNES Force. No. 8 (January 1994). 23 December 1993. pp. 32–6.
  12. ^ "Top 100 SNES Games". Total! (43): 46. July 1995. Retrieved February 28, 2022.

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