Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Arcade Game
System: NES Publisher: Ultra Games Developer: Konami
Genre: Action Type: Sidescrolling Beat-em-up Circa: 1990
Much improved graphics over TMNT1!...Rocksteady has a head like a rock!

The second adventure of the Ninja Turtles on the NES, TMNT2 is an NES port of Konami's first turtles arcade game. The first NES TMNT game emphasized exploration along with action and platform jumping. But TMNT 2 is a straight-forward, beat-em-up action game, similar to Double Dragon or Final Fight. You can choose which Turtle to play as, and there's even a fun 2-player simultaneous option. This game is a vast improvement over TMNT1, but not necessarily great.
The graphics of TMNT2 are a vast improvement over its predecessor! Unfortunately, I've never played the arcade version, so I cannot make a comparison, but for NES-style graphics, they are large and colorful. The appearance and animation of the turtles looks very close to the cartoon. The characters are about twice as big as they were in TMNT1, and the enemies are also drawn much more realistically, especially the bosses. However, most of the enemies that you encounter in the levels are the same ninjas over and over again, with swapped color palettes. But the different colors of each ninja represent what kind of weapons they have. Yellow ninjas throw boomerangs, white ninjas wield swords, blue ninjas throw knives, purple ninjas use karate instead of weapons, etc. There are some other, rarer enemies that appear during stages, as well, such as robotic unicycles, bouncing snowmen, helicopters, and insect-like creatures, among others. The backgrounds look nice, too, and there's a wide variety of them. Unlike TMNT1 with its boring, repetitive warehouse backgrounds, in TMNT2 you have streets, sewers, a snowfield, a high-tech fortress, a burning building, and even a Japanese dojo! Some stages even use parallax scrolling. Overall, the graphics are excellent and give the game a true "TMNT" look and feel.
A turlte's home is his sewer...Who couldn't love a game with a character named Frosty the Hitman?
SOUND: 8/10
Konami had made some of the best NES music, and while TMNT2 may not be up to par with their very best efforts, it doesn't disappoint, either. It does have its ups and downs, though. For example, while TMNT1 had very minimal use of the Turtles theme that's heard in the cartoon show, but TMNT2 uses it, a lot...maybe a little too much. The music in the final level is one of the best pieces of NES music I've ever heard. However, the music in the dojo made me want to pull my hair out after listening to it for about 30 seconds. Fortunately, there's more levels with good music than bad. The boss music is exciting, too. The sound effects, which are mostly puching, kicking, weapons clanging, and explosions, are all done very well in classic Konami style. Overall, the sound effects and music fit the TMNT atmosphere very well.
The play control of TMNT2 feels very solid. All the turtles have the exact same control. The only difference is that Michaelangelo's weapon seems to have a slightly longer reach, and Raphael's weapon has a slightly shorter attack range than the other turtles. The jumping control is excellent, which is a good thing since you'll be jumping around quite a bit to avoid enemy attacks. While you're jumping in the air, you can press B to perform a flying kick. This move is easy to pull off, and surprisingly easy to control. I only have a few issues with this game's control. The first and foremost is the "special attack". By pressing A and B at the same time, your turtle is supposed to jump and swing his weapon. However, this doesn't always work. I seem to press the buttons for the move and hope it works, and that just doesn't quite cut it when you're surrounded by enemies. The second problem is that the attack range is a bit too small for my liking, unless I'm using Michaelangelo. Even then, it's sometimes hard to tell just how close you have to be to an enemy to damage it. If you're too far away, you swing and leave yourself open to attack. If you're too close, you can miss and end up in a chokehold. This is only a minor annoyance, however. The play control is very good for this kind of game.
Shredder may be evil, but at least he saved April from that burning building...Bebop hasn't really learned anything new
This story for TMNT2 is almost the same as the story behind TMNT1. Once again, it starts off with April and Splinter getting kidnapped, then you hunt down Shredder in his giant tank, the Technodrome. But there are a few things that make this game's story and atmosphere a little better. For one thing, there is much better use of cinema scenes in this game. These are very colorfully drawn, and look like a scene from a comic book. There's also a few added scenes that weren't in the arcade version, such as the level where you have to destroy a weather control device that's covering New York in snow. Basically, this game is pure fighting, and not something you would play for plot, but it adds just enough elements from the turtles cartoon to satisfy TMNT fans.
I have mixed feelings on this game's challenge. There's a wide variety of enemies that use different attacks and weapons on you, but none of them are really difficult to beat, especially once you figure out their patterns. In most cases, the enemies with weapons are actually much easier than those who only use karate moves against you. This is mostly because you can always see the weapons coming. The enemies don't just randomly toss them out, you can see them carrying the weapons, and you can tell when they're going to throw them. The weapons usually move slow enough that they're easy to dodge, too. Characters who use only karate are harder because you can't always see their moves coming, and they can usually foil your flying kicks by punching you as you leap towards them. That's not to say this game is a total walk in the park. Things can get difficult when you're surrounded by lots of enemies, and the farther you get into the game, the tougher the enemies become. Sometimes, there are things in the background that can damage you, too, such as giant bowling balls that roll down stairs, laser beams that fire out of walls, or cars that try to run you down. The only other aspect of the challenge are the bosses. I'm not too fond of the boss battles in this game. While the bosses all look cool and have different moves, you beat most of them the same exact way. So, it's almost like fighting the same boss over and over again, only each time it has more hit points. Almost all bosses are beaten with a combination of flying kicks and punches. This can get really boring because you're constantly dodging to keep from taking hits, and this can cause battles to drag on for a VERY long time! To make things worse, almost all bosses have some kind of really cheap move that allows them to punch you out of the air when you're jumping. This spoils any kind of plan for working out a pattern to defeat them. The scientist and flyman battles seem to be the only exception to this, since neither come down to where you can punch them, and must be defeated solely with flying kicks.
FUN: 6.5/10
This is what it all comes down to. The game has excellent graphics, sound, play control, and decent challenge...but is it fun to play? This game is fun to play at first, and I greatly prefer it to the first NES turtles game. It's a well-done game for the beat-em-up genre. However, I've never been a huge fan of this style of game. I find that walking along a straight path, using the same moves over and over against the same basic enemies becomes quite repetitious and tedious after awhile. Although it was fun thrashing on enemies at first, by the time I got to about the 6th level, I just wanted it to end. How much can one person really take of this? You walk three steps, a bunch of ninjas leap out. Beat them all. Walk a few more steps. Another bunch of ninjas leap out. Beat them all...Walk a few more steps, some robots on wheels roll out. You have to dodge a lot more, but essentially you beat them the same way, again. The game's designers tried to add a little variety to the action by putting in a skateboarding level. But the only difference here is that you're on a skateboard, and the screen scrolls automatically. Otherwise, you're still fighting ninjas, the same exact way as before. (In fact, I think it's funny that no matter where you jump to on the screen, your skateboard automatically rolls with you, so you can't fall off of it!) The boss battles are also a real downer for me. I actually liked the boss battles of TMNT1 better than this. Spending about 15 minutes on one boss is no fun. And unless you cheat and use the 10 lives code, that's probably how long it takes to beat some of the later bosses. It's not a bad game. It just gets boring to me after awhile.
Nothing like getting shot in the foot while trying to skateboard...The dojo is my favorite level

I'd like to stress that I don't think this is a bad game. For a game of its kind, it's very well-crafted, and it really does seem like Konami was making the best of what the NES has to offer in many areas, particularly graphics. But I've never found sidescrolling beat-em-ups to be overly exciting, and there's very little about this game that makes it appealing to people who aren't fond of the genre. I also think the game would probably be a lot more fun in the two-player mode, but I almost never have a second player. Get this game if you really like the Ninja Turtles, are a fan of sidescrolling fighters, and/or an NES collector.
OVERALL SCORE (not an average): 7/10



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