Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

 -Konami (1988)




Heroes in a half shell (not in a whole shell) battle the forces of Shredder with the aid of Turtle Power™.  

My Thoughts

Talk about mega blockbuster arcade games, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game came out right when ninja themed turtle fever was at its peak. This sucker wasn’t just some crappy game cashing in a monolithic toy franchise though, this game was about as good of a tie in you could have asked for. And back in those days you were given what you got and you liked it, no matter how shitty it was. Even better, when the TMNT arcade game was released, you couldn’t get anything this great looking on a home console, unless you were some rich bastard that had a Neo-Geo. And if you were that kid, I both hate you and want to be you.  

The first thing that really sucked kids into playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (and still provides plenty of reason to play it today) is a little bit of the actual theme song from the cartoon along with some quasi-animated intro screens that just beg you to play. Even better yet, the machine says, “Cowabunga!” when you put a quarter in. Hot damn! 

The graphics hold up okay, although they seemed a lot better in my memories. The turtles still look pretty good and are both colorful and animated enough to emulate the look and feel of the cartoon series. The regular enemies look like they are ripped straight from the cartoon, especially the regular foot soldiers and some of the other minions. The bosses look especially good, most notably Bebop and Rock Steady.   

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles controls are pretty much standard brawler. There is a jump button and an attack button, resulting in the usual litany of moves. When the jump and attack are pressed together, you get a little stronger sweep attack that some enemies down in one hit. Thankfully, you don’t lose any life when you perform that little maneuver.  

TMNT seems to be a little more difficult than the average brawler. Playing with others is the optimum way to play the game, after all the ninja turtles are a team. Remember in the film when Raphael gets his ass handed to him when he’s alone? Well, me either, but the game is a lot like that scene when you play alone. Even when four turtles are fighting at the same time, the screen erupts into total chaos, so if you have three friends willing to play with you then this is the way to play this game. In addition to all the regular bad guys, there are a few traps that are pretty cheap, especially a series of sprayers that freeze you on the last level with no warning. There are a couple of fairly difficult bosses, but chief among them is Shredder. He plays the mirror image game where you have to hit the right Shredder to hurt him and he’s got a one shot kill that turns you back into a normal, non-mutant ninja turtle. It’s insanely frustrating and could be even more so if you’re dumping quarters into the actual arcade unit. 

The area where Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles suffers the most is in the sound department. The music is pretty good and it's use of occasional voices is a nice plus. Still, there are some extremely ear popping bad sound effects, in particular the noises for the traps that zap your turtle full of deadly volts. This is one of the few arcade games that I’ve played on MAME where I had to turn the sound down or suffer early deafness.  

If I would have reviewed TMNT when it first came out, I would have said it was totally radical, then perhaps thrown in a, "Cowabunga, dude!" for good measure. I’d even give it a ten. Despite the fact it hasn’t aged as well as I’d have wished, it still offers plenty of fun so if you have a chance to play this one again, go ahead and do it.

Score: 7.5

- Paul




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