88: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Genre: Platformer

Developer: Konami
Publisher: Ultra
Year: 1989

Basic Idea:  Be totally radical while saving April and defeating the Shredder!

Review: This game gets a lot of flak for the second level where you must disarm the underwater bombs, as well it should.  It’s an insanely difficult level where it’s easy to lose a turtle.  But it’s not difficult in a Battletoads or Ghosts N’  Goblins way, and with enough practice, it can be done without losing any turtles.  The controls could be a bit tighter, but they’re actually pretty responsive.

What I love about this incarnation of the turtles is that the four turtles are distinctly different with their weapon abilities.  Donatello’s bo is more powerful, but slower.  Leonarda’s katana is dynamic and be used to kill enemies in hard-to-reach places.  Raphael’s sai is short-range but very fast.  I also love that the game really feels like it came out of the cartoon I adored before I had taste.  The music is there.  Use eat pizza to gain energy.  The bad guys are all there and act similarly as they did on the show.  You get to drive around in the turtle party wagon.  It’s pretty much all there, including the hokey, gnarly dialogue.

There’s some minor issues with the RAM, and I wish the difficulty was a bit more fair, but I genuinely enjoy this game.

6 thoughts on “88: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”

  1. I definitely like this game too. The second level…sigh. Even beyond being too difficult, it wouldn’t even really be much fun if it wasn’t. It’s a stupid level that belongs in a different game. I don’t know why platform developers were so damned obsessed with water levels in those days. Are water levels popular? Does anyone really like them?

    I played Ghosts N’ Goblins enough that I honestly forgot it was a difficult game when I was young. I beat it in front of my friend Jon and he said I was the greatest gamer of all time.

    Battletoads, though…I played that just as often and it didn’t help. I hate to beat a dead horse, but what were they thinking? Was the game tested at all?

    1. At least turtles, you know, belong in water. I have never enjoyed a water level that I can remember.

      There are a few games that reviews will say are extremely difficult, but they’re so second nature to me now I don’t remember it being that hard. I have a friend who will ask me to play Punch-Out so he can watch me beat Mike Tyson.

  2. Hey, I never played the game, but my marching frogs painting, based on the terracotta warriors . . . all my fellow art students thought they were Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles, so I can relate. :} I’m still waiting for you to post a game that I have played, so I can comment (like, dislike, etc.)

  3. I played the hell out of this game (still do). For the underwater level, I switched first to Raphael, then to Michelangelo (just before Raphael died) since they had the most useless weapons. Without the game genie I could make it to the Technodrome, but that was about it. The difficulty got insane during and after that and not worth the time investment (even as a kid).

    I’m glad TMNT 2 finally got the arcade port going (as well as the NES could) with 2 player support.

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