Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (video game)

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The NES box art.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a platformer beat 'em up video game with Metroidvania elements developed by Konami and published by Ultra on the Nintendo Entertainment System on 1989-05-12 and later ported to various home computer platforms. In the game, you control the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as they attmpet to rescue April O'Neil who has been kidnapped by Shredder's goons Bebop and Rocksteady. However, when you finally manage to do so, things get even worse! The game was released around the same time as the arcade game, and, between the two of them, they are the first video games set in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles universe.


My step-brother introduced me to this game. I didn't get to play it much, but I watched him and my older brother take turns playing it. Being a fan of the cartoon, I remember being excited to see the game, but, even at a young age, I was confused at all the weird unrelated crap I saw in the game. My brother and step-brother made it to stage 4, but I never got that far myself. Later, after hacking the game to be invincible, I played it through to completion and discovered just how insane it gets near the end. I later learned that you have to treat the game less like a platformer and more like a traditional beat 'em up, which meanings being very patient and methodical with your actions. Movement through the stages must be slow and cautious, you have to grind near pizzas and power-ups all the time to stay fully charged, and you have to exploit the enemy AI frequently. On 2019-12-15, after spending a few days honing my skills, I finally beat the game. The game has a lot of charm, but such serious flaws I could never recommend it.


I own this game on the NES and have beaten it.


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4 3 6 7 4

Best Version: NES

— This section contains spoilers! —


  • The game features a lot of characters from the cartoon, including heroes and villains alike, which is always nice for a licensed game.
  • The graphics are pretty good, I especially like the look of the turtles.
  • Jun Funahashi's music is really good.
  • There are different locations for each act, each separated with a cut scene, and the whole game plays out like a comic book.
  • I like the mechanic of being able to switch between turtles to have more energy and then healing them as needed.
  • The shift between top-down streets and side-view indoors helps break up the game play and makes the sewer and indoor elements seem like part of a wider world.
  • The manual is well-written.


  • The enemies respawn the moment their spawn point leaves the screen and you return to it. They also mercifully cease to exist the moment they leave the screen. While this isn't too unusual for an NES game, it makes it very difficult to defeat enemies that require multiple hits. You usually have to retreat a little in order to not take damage, but, after defeating the enemy and returning to where it spawned, it will have come back.
  • The collision detection is pretty bad. Many enemies and hazards will hit you even when they're clearly not visually hitting you.
  • The turtles should have been balanced better. They're all identical in movement speed, the only difference is in the range and swinging speed of their weapons. The only outlier is Donatello who hits for double damage, has longer range, hits behind himself, and sometimes hits twice. Because of this, Donatello is a powerhouse, while Raphael, with the shortest range, is completely inferior.
  • The knock-back when you're hit isn't time-based, but continues until you hit the ground. During the knock-back fall, you can't control your character, just like in the poory-designed Castlevania, and, when it occurs above pits, often means you'll end up falling in. By itself, this wouldn't be too obnoxious, but the game designers put a lot of enemies above pits which means you're seriously punished for a single mistake.
  • The game has pretty bad screen flicker and slow down when there are multiple enemies on the screen, especially the fire freaks.
  • I like the idea of having minibosses throughout the stages, I just wish they were something other than the regular enemies you see all over the game.
  • The majority of the enemies in the game have nothing to do with the cartoon and even those few that do don't look like they're supposed to. The first time I saw a Mouser, I thought it was a giant ant. And, the Foot Clan guys look more like aliens in pajamas. In the later stages, nothing is from the comics or TV show except the bosses.
  • Although the top-down sections of the game make it more interesting, they could have been improved. It's too easy to die even at full health by being run over, the Turtle van's gun is too weak to be very useful, and it's hard to line up your gun with targets.
  • Despite being turtles, they're pretty difficult to control underwater!
  • It's common for the era, so it's not a big deal, but there is no point to the score. If you were so inclined, you could go in and out a door, over and over again, killing enemies until you max out the score, but it would never affect the game in any way.
  • As long as you still have Kiai scrolls, Shredder is staggeringly easy to defeat and the ending is pretty unimpressive for such a long and difficult game.


  • Throughout the game, there are several annoyingly difficult jumps that have to be timed perfectly to make. Most of them don't kill you, but they set you back far enough that you'll probably take more damage returning to them. It seems they were added just to piss the player off.
  • Moving from one map to another often puts you immediately in danger with enemies approaching you and requires fast reflexes to not take damage. In several later maps, depending on where you enter a room, you're guaranteed to take a hit.
  • There are several insta-kill hazards throughout the game and enemies are purposely positioned to knock you into them. Avoiding them requires fast reflexes and memorizing where enemies spawn.
  • Your secondary weapon is replaced automatically if you touch another one, even accidentally. This is frustrating when shruikens replace your boomerangs, but controller-breaking when they replace your kiai!
  • There are a couple traps in the game that can kill you entirely with no indication they're dangerous like the algae in the Hudson River and the lava in the airport. The spike walls in stage 4 are especially infuriating because they not only instantly kill you, but the rooms abuse use the game's floaty jump mechanics against you.
  • To even stand a chance late in the game against the fast-moving over-powered enemies in the later stages, you're expected to either abuse the AI or farm Kiai scrolls, which is a long and boring process.
  • The DOS port has an impossible jump in area 3 which makes the game unwinnable without cheating.






Review - Angry Video Game Nerd.
Longplay - NES (no scrolls, no Donatello).
Longplay - Amiga.
Longplay - Commodore 64.
Longplay - NES.
Longplay - ZX Spectrum.


Language Native Transliteration Translation
English (Europe) Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles
English (North America) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
French Les Tortues Ninja Ninja Turtles
Japanese 激龟忍者传 Gekikame Ninja Den Turtle Ninja
Spanish Tortugas Ninja Ninja Turtles


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