Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
System: NES Publisher: Ultra Games Developer: Konami
Genre: Action Type: Sidescrolling Platformer Circa: 1989
Leo, Raph, Mike, & Don...Gotta love those Foot Balloons

In TMNT, you play as the four Ninja Turtles, and you are on a mission to stop Shredder and his evil henchmen from taking over the city. The game has both overhead-view and sidescrolling areas, although the emphasis is on the sidescrolling scenes. I can't help but feel this game felt very average in almost every way, except maybe sound, and I just expected a little more from Konami. However, this is far from being the worst game that's based on a cartoon. In fact, it's probably one of the better efforts in that class. But it's plagued with several problems that cause it from being a truly great gaming experience.
GRAPHICS: 6.5/10
TMNT's graphics aren't that bad, but they're somewhat grainy and dull. The turtles and enemies look okay, but lack a bit of detail. There are some cool cinema scenes and some areas are vibrant. But many other places just look rather plain or blocky. There's not a whole lot of variety in the settings, either. Streets, buildings, sewers, and warehouses are common, and as you might imagine, the scenery isn't much to look at. The higlight here is the enemies. From flaming Fire Freaks and Giant Roller Cars to Flying Foot Balloons and a giant Technodrome Boss, I like how a lot of them look. It should be noted that this game was based more on the comic books than the cartoon show, so you probably won't recognize too many enemies from the show, unlike later TMNT games.
Don't hold your breath!...If you're made of fire, it's probably not a good idea to go jumping into water
SOUND: 8/10
Almost all the music and sound effects I heard in this game were very good! This is definitely the high point of TMNT. The themes for the sewers and streets were very catchy and had that classic "Konami" flavor to them. The music, overall, has a bouncy techno-beat. I liked the sound effects, too, even if they were a bit loud.
CONTROL: 6.5/10
For most purposes, the play control feels very good and precise. At first, you may even wonder why I scored it as low as 6.5. However, there are some things about the control that are just plain awkward and even awful in some situations. The basic jumping around and swinging your weapon is easy. You can do a normal jump, or a higher jump in which your turtle rolls through the air (a la Samus Aran), and both are easy to perform. All four turtles control the same except Donatello has a slightly longer reach with his bo staff, and Raphael has a slightly smaller attack range with his dagger. In some areas, the jumping control can be a real pain. Very long jumps are easy to make, but it's the shorter jumps that can be tough, and that just seems silly! There are parts where you have to jump across narrow gaps onto blocks, and a lot of times the turtle jumps too far and ends up falling down one screen or into the water below. That can be really frustrating! There's a level in the game where you have to swim underwater, and the controls here can be awkward, too. Sometimes I get sucked into the top area of the screen and can't get back down! The controls just needed to be a bit more responsive for the type of game that this is.
This is Shredder!...Bebop and Rocksteady make their videogame debut
It's your basic Ninja Turtles plot: Shredder first kidnaps April O'Neil, star news reporter and friend of the turtles. So you go to rescue her, but along the way, you'll also have to rescue Splinter, destroy the Technodrome, and stop Shredder from taking over New York City. The story isn't special and the atmosphere is somewhat stale. There are some cinema scenes here and there, but they aren't used on the level of Ninja Gaiden.
I have to give the game some credit in this department, because it is tough! However, tough does not necessarily equal good. While the bosses and enemies are fun to fight, I found much of the challenge of this game to be either too frustrating or too boring. Those jumps I mentioned in the play control section are one example of "too frustrating". There are also times when you go to make a jump at the edge of the screen, and there will be an enemy just off-screen that you couldn't see that will hit you and knock you down. What becomes boring is the exploration aspect of the game. Some areas feature multiple buildings and tunnels that you have to go in and out of to collect weapons and find your way through. For example, in Level 3 you'll need to find missiles for the van to blast down barriers around town. In order to find enough missiles, you have to keep going in and out of buildings to collect them. You also have to find tightropes to get through some areas and scrolls to beat the bosses. This kind of searching around can become tedious. The gameplay in these areas isn't very engaging or interesting, either. I sometimes just prefer straight-forward action levels as opposed to searching. You also have limited continues and no save feature, which is really bad for a game of this size and difficulty.
FUN: 5/10
I know a lot of people may disagree with me about this, but I don't find this game to be too interesting or fun to play. It's not horrible, just incredibly average. There is some variety in the levels, with overhead scenes, sidescrolling scenes, an underwater swimming level, and boss fights. But none of them are designed too well. Many of the interior areas are very claustrophobic. You walk into a room, surrounded by enemies. You have to destroy everything, then go up a ladder to the next level to do it again. Collecting items all over town isn't much better. I just don't like working so hard to get through the early levels, only to run out of continues later on. A save feature would've made this game more playable. On the plus side, the boss fights are fun and I like how some areas don't let you advance until you've beaten the mini-boss.
Dam!...Warehouses are full of strange things...

TMNT is a good effort for a cartoon-based game. But as someone who was a fan of the TMNT TV show, I expected much better. I can't help but feel that it felt like a generic game with TMNT characters thrown in here and there. However, it still might be worth a try to gamers looking for something really hard, NES collectors, or diehard fans of the Ninja Turtles.
OVERALL SCORE (not an average): 6/10



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