Hey all! Last week, I wrote about a creepy PS2 survival horror title-and I wrote the worst pun ever in the title.

This week, the week of April 1st, I decided to replay an NES title that’s a little Legend of Zelda, a little Metroid, and all awesome. Strap yourselves in...

...because Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, for the NES, was freaking amazing. It took the best aspects of the era’s games and blended them into a masterpiece.

Developed by Konami, and published by Ultra (which was just Konami), TMNT cast you as the four Turtles as you rescue April O’ Neill, rescue Splinter, then, in a shocking twist, rescue Splinter again. In addition to the villainous Shredder, you fight enemies ripped straight from the hit comic and TV series, like zombies (I think), Fire Guy, and these flying stingray things. You know what I’m talking about. Also there’s these little spaceman guys, and what I think are Mousers, but probably aren’t. Also Fire Guy shoots mini Fire Guys at you...just like the cartoon?

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The enemies in the game clearly spawned from a developer’s drug-induced fever dream, but anyway...

TMNT plays from an overhead view half the time. As one of the playable Turtles, you explore a city and complete your objectives in a fashion that is in no way confusing or nebulous. Sometimes you run into an enemy, and sometimes you get crushed by a steamroller. It’s highly realistic; I myself have to dodge random, indiscriminate steamrollers every day, so I know how this feels. The overhead maps feel reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda, in that both have overhead views.

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The damn level. (Not a typo)

The side-scrolling levels are a different affair. You get to pick which Turtle you want to play as, each with actually different attributes. Leonardo is pretty terrible, Michelangelo is...pretty terrible, Raphael is...also pretty terrible, and Donatello is pure awesome. Seriously, use Donatello, because in a game where almost everyone uses sharp weapons, the wood stick is the strongest. Look, you’re fighting dudes made of fire and Lord knows what those spaceman things are, so what do you care? Just go with it. Use Donatello. He’s got the most reach and the most strength, so...use Donatello.

The side-scrolling levels remind me of Metroid a lot-both are side scrolling, both...have enemies, I guess. You fight, and jump, and fight. You fall down pits, and fight bosses in fights that are totally epic and in no way crappy. Use Donatello.

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None of it matters, because the centerpiece of the game is Level 2, in which the Turtles must disarm bombs that have been planted on a dam, presumably in New York City, where TMNT traditionally takes place. I live in New York City, and let me tell you, we’re known for our dams, if nothing else.

Whoops. I seem to have posted another image of this level. My mistake.

The Turtles disarm the bombs the only way they know how-by swimming into the dam and disarming the bombs by hand, using their heretofore unknown bomb-disarming skills. Best not to question how they manage this with their giant, three-fingered hands. The damn level (again, not a typo) requires all of your self control, as you have to not only navigate around electric seaweed and electric currents (how these work underwater is beyond me), but you also have to find a way to not EAT YOUR CONTROLLER OUT OF SHEER RAGE.

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Don’t use Donatello here. Use the other, more expendable Turtles.

Basically, it’s tough. But ultimately rewarding, because you get to drive the Party Wagon after Level 2! For almost a whole 2 minutes! On the plus side, you get to destroy those pesky steamrollers and run over hapless Foot Clan ninjas foolish enough to get in the way of your giant van.

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Manhattan (allegedly)

Oh, also there’s this ending:

It reveals a lot about the Ninja Turtles universe, namely:

  • Shredder doesn’t understand how fighting works.
  • Shredder was made of explosives, apparently, and
  • Splinter is even weirder looking in human form.

I also have no idea how Splinter just turns into a human after you straight up murder Shredder, but I’m sure there’s an excellent explanation for it.

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Also, there’s this jump.

TMNT is a graphical powerhouse; the Turtles animate with several frames, and the enemies look equally awesome with tons of them appearing on screen at once, with absolutely no slowdown whatsoever. (Did I say “no” slowdown? I’m sorry, I meant “severe” slowdown). The music is pretty great; the game features a varied soundtrack of three of four songs throughout.

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Definitely track down a copy of this gem. It’s one of the great ones of the NES era, and it’s a must have for any Turtles fan, with its absolute faith in the source material. The game is totally fun and not at all crappy, and it treats the player fairly and justly as well. When you die, it’s totally your fault, not endless respawning enemies or awful level design or anything.

Oh, and the DOS version has an impossible jump! You can’t beat it! middlefinger.jpg

And of course...

APRIL FOOLS!

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed my silly April Fools article. Here’s last year’s April Fools GOTW pick if you’re interested! As always, leave comments, suggest future games to be featured as Game of the Week, and find me on Twitter! Also, catch up with my other article series here!

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Next week, it’s back to business as usual, as I’ll cover that Sega Genesis JRPG I promised last week!