Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

The slightly different title screens.  From left to right: English version, American version, Italian version

As many of you NES fans know, the Ninja Turtles were huge during the NES era.  So, logically, it was only a matter of time before they got a video game or six based on their battles against Shredder.  This game was the first of three made for the NES, and, like most first games in a series, it is substantially diffrent from the others.

This is the sub-screen, where you can see an overview of your Turtles' health and weapons and get advice from Splinter and/or April.  You can switch between your turtles at any time by highlighting them and pressing Start.  Each turtle has their trademark weapons.  To many fans' disappointment,  the best of the bunch are Leo and Don, whose weapons have the best reach AND do the most damage.  Sorry Mikey and Raph, you got the shaft this time.

The stick is mightier than the floor

There were two basic areas to each stage: an overhead view of the area, where you would be harassed by Foot soldiers (who, as usual, were little more than cannon fodder for the Turtles) and Foot Steamrollers, which could kill you instantly if you got careless and were run over. 

Once you enter a sewer or building, though, that's where the fun part begins.  The game switches to a side-view, and you get attacked by a wider variety of enemies, including giant flies, guys with chainsaws, and burning men that create little wisps of flame.  The occasional mini-boss will also appear, though he's usually just a toughened-up Foot Soldier or chainsaw guy.

Sometimes, though, it's a frog-man

Enemies also randomly drop weapons that your turtles can use, which include Shurikens and Boomerangs.  Shurikens were your basic limited-supply ranged ammunition, but Boomerangs were great in the fact that they could be re-used if you caught them as they reversed direction at the end of their flight.  Even better, you could "pass" boomerangs to other turtles by switching characters just before the boomerang returned home, ensuring that everyone would have a supply of pretty decent weapons.

Here's an early battle against Bebop, one of Shredder's flunkies from the show.  He's not too much of a threat, especially since he just jumps around and occasionally gets stuck against the wall.


  After Bebop's defeat, Rocksteady will vamoose with April, so your next task is to chase him down as well.  After brawling through a warehouse or two, you'll come face-to-face with him.  He's a bit tougher than Bebop in that he fires bullets in addition to jumping around, but there is a nifty little trick to beating him.

Jab at Rocksteady with the Bo while safe from harm

Shortly after that, it's on to the next level.  Boy, the turtles never catch a break, do they?

  The plan this time is to defuse some bombs so Shredder doesn't blow up a dam.  Cause that would be bad, and stuff. 

Unfortunately, all the screenshots I had of the dam sequence got overwritten, but I can tell you that you'll have to navigate an annoying maze of shocking seaweed and electric barriers to get to all of those bombs.  Oh, and you only have a little over 2 minutes to defuse them all, so you'll have to work fast.

It's more of the same on the way there, though

Once that's done, the Turtles return home to find their living room trashed, and Shredder on their pirated cable.

Now we set out once again to rescue Splinter, who is conveniently located on the opposite end of the Foot-infested city.  Fortunately, you get a shiny new toy to help you get across town...

The Party Wagon!

Of course, you'll need to find some missiles first, to blow through those pesky barriers and steamrollers.  This is pretty easy, considering there are only two buildings you can reach from the starting point.

Think like Mario to get across that gap

From there, though, it's more melee combat and platform-jumping.

More of the Big Apple


If you're running low on health with one turtle, it's a good idea to switch to a healthier one, and then switch back once you find a Pizza icon so that the weaker turtle can refill their life.  You'll need all the healthy turtles as you can get for the last few stages.

There are a few areas where you can rescue a defeated turtle

If there's a pizza icon near the beginning of a building or sewer section, you can collect that item and leave.  When you return, the item will reappear.  Use this trick whenever possible to top off your turtles' health.

When you have a few boomerangs on one turtle, throw a few out, then switch to another turtle.  They will be able to catch the boomerangs as they return, thus giving them some armament as well.  Don't do this with a turtle that is carrying another weapon you want to keep, though, or they will lose that weapon.

If you're almost out of time in the dam section, it's probably better to just lose a turtle than let the timer hit 0.  If time runs out, it's an immediate Game Over, whereas if a turtle dies the timer will reset when you enter the section again, but the bombs you defused will remain out of commission.

If you encounter a tough group of enemies in a building and don't want to fight them (the group with Fire Freaks and dive-bombng manta-ray things is quite a hassle), then exit the building and re-enter.  The tougher enemies should be replaced by some easier ones after one or two tries.

Overall Score: 7/10
The first Turtles game doesn't appeal to everybody, but it's not too bad of a game.

©2003 Spoony