Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles NES Retro Review

by | Aug 11, 2016 | Retro Reviews, Review | 0 comments

4 / 5

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a beloved franchise, with multiple generations of fans. Over two dozen video games have been released with the titular turtles saving New York City and/or the world. It all started with one game, though. The original Famicom/NES game made by Konami, that has gone down in history as one of the hardest video games ever made.

The storyline of the game is not so different from Mario games of the era, with the heroes tasked with saving the girl from the evil would be ruler and his waves of minions. What separates TMNT from SMB is the difficulty level. While I could run through the first Mario game in less than half an hour, I (and countless other gamers) would often be frustrated by the mercilessness of the levels and enemies alike.

While the game’s early section was quite standard for the era (which was difficult, but not impossible), I then found myself  faced with what is still considered one of the most difficult levels in gaming history:

The Dam.

Tasked with disarming several bombs in a short time, with electric sea grass and traps, I find this level harder than most games’ final bosses. I rarely left this stage unscathed and many times left it down one Turtle. Luckily,  it is possible to regain the lost brother in the next section of the game… the only time the game will show the player any mercy.

As in the comics and the show, pizza features prominently. It acts as health powerups. A slice gives 1/4 health, half gives 1/2, and a whole pie gives you your full health bar back. Those full pies are among the most rare powerups in the game, naturally. As I progress, I find myself driving the Party Wagon, fighting more and more powerful sub-bosses… and even having to do combat with the dreaded Technodrome itself! Now, for full disclosure, I never made it past this fight without a Game Genie. However, I have indeed seen the end of the game with one. It may not be what Master Splinter would approve of, but by that point, the game wears players down to nearly nothing and barely anyone has beaten the game without outside assistance.

Speaking of Master Splinter, he gets a very odd ending when you beat the game. Despite the story simply being about rescuing April, then switching to rescuing Splinter himself, the game seems to think that beating Shredder in a fist fight is all it takes to cure Splinter of his rodent-ness.

I watched in confusion as he morphed from giant rat to human and proclaimed that I surpassed his skill. While confusing, it is still more of an ending than most games of the 1980s got, so I was not about to complain.

I had very fond memories of playing TMNT and enjoyed revisiting it. It still remains one of the hardest games I have ever played, but also one of the best made and most enjoyable. I’d give it a strong recommendation to any fan of the series.