I remember this game with great fondness, and I was excited to see a Ninja Turtles game in Japan, where the comic book and TV series were not as widely known. I remember that the game delivered everything I had hoped for, and didn’t disappoint.
Now that the fog of childhood excitement has cleared, I can give my honest opinion of this game without any reservation. Does it stand up to the test of time, or does it fall short?
Something I loved about this game as a kid was the 2 player co-op mode. This was, in fact, my preferred method of play as a kid, because it made it a lot easier to beat the game. It was difficult enough that we couldn’t beat it every time, but typically you could make it a lot farther with 2 players as opposed to 1. This time I played the game alone, and I must admit that this did have an impact on my overall enjoyment of the game. It’s better with 2 players, but it’s still not bad as 1 player.
Another thing I loved about the game was the gameplay. The controls were simple and responsive, and the boss battles were challenging. The gameplay is still pretty fun, if somewhat monotonous. Most of the time you jump, kick, and repeat, which is your basic strategy for most boss battles.
Of course, part of the appeal of this game is the Turtles universe, which they took full advantage of (unlike some movies or games I could mention). They could have released this game under the guise of another hero quartet, but somehow I just don’t think it would have been as satisfying. This is where it gets a little difficult to rate as a game, because those who grew up with the Ninja Turtles are familiar with the universe and the characters, but those who didn’t grow up with the Ninja Turtles might have a different view of this game altogether.
As per aforementioned, the gameplay is simple and the controls are responsive. I like how you can combine your jump with an attack (jump-kick), and if you hit the buttons simultaneously, you can get another “special attack” that brings Foot soldiers down in one hit. I like the variety in movements, but most of the time you’re going to be using the jump-kick or the special attack because they are more effective and it’s easier to avoid enemy attacks. Unlike Final Mission (S.C.A.T. Special Cybernetic Attack Team), there are a fair number of stages to the game, and it still retains a good level of challenge.
The graphics were impressive at best, and par at worst. I like the variety in expressions and actions the Turtles can take, and you can tell they paid a great deal of attention to detail here. Of course, some of the backgrounds are a little underdeveloped, and you can tell they recycled the Foot soldier graphic (merely changed the color of it), but this was common practice at the time. All in all, it looks a lot better than a lot of other NES games, so I’m not going to dock any points here.
Sound & Music
I like the fact that they made use of the Turtles’ theme, and also created variations on it. Some of the loops tend to be a little short and repeat too often, but there are also some pretty good themes here. My favorites were the snow level and the Technodrome themes.
This game may not be the cream of the crop, but I have to admit it’s still a fairly well developed game. It’s a bit like Contra combined with Double Dragon, if I had to make comparisons (although not as memorable as either). I realize I was a lot more forgiving of games like this as a kid. You almost never knew what you were getting when you went out and bought NES games, and fortunately this one turned out to be one of the better ones in my collection. Give it a whirl if you have some spare time.
Check out this video for gameplay footage: