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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES) Retro Review

Updated: Nov 20, 2022

Game Name: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Publisher: Ultra Games (North America) and Konami (Japan)

Developer: Konami

Release Date: June 1989 (North America)

Platform: NES, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, MSX, ZX Spectrum, PlayChoice-10


When I was a kid, I was a huge fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I grew up with the original animated series of the same name. It ran from 1987 to 1996. I will admit that I do not remember much of the later years of the series, but I remember the first few seasons very well. The later years got weird for some reason and I was not a fan of that.

Then came the movie that every kid was looking forward to. I remember watching it at the theatre and I was in awe. I was seeing one of my favourite cartoons in real life. I guess it could be compared to seeing the comic book movies in real life like Iron Man, Captain America and so on.

Right before the movie though, there were 2 games that were released for this franchise. You had the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the arcade and you also had one that was made for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). I will be looking at the latter.


In the game, you play as all 4 of the Ninja Turtles (Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael). In case that you are not aware, Leonardo was good with Samurai's. In the cartoon he was the leader of the pack, but in the movie Raphael was the leader. Raphael yielded twin Sai's. Michelangelo would use nunchaku and Donatello would use bo staffs.

When I played the game for the first time, I was in love. I was getting to play as my favourite television characters. The maps are similar to the original Zelda as you can start in various sections of the map. There was an order in which missions happen. However, how you achieve the end of the mission is really up to you.

The goal is very simple. You go from sewer or buildings and you try to get through to the next level. In most cases, the goal is to get through the specified level without dying or losing health. There were some area's where you had to fight a boss. The bosses were Bobop, Rocksteady, Mechaturtle, Big Mouser, Technodrome and Shredder. In the end there were 6 main missions to complete.

You could also pick up some useful items. Pizza's would provide health power ups. There were also throwing stars which could be found a little everywhere.

On the main map, the view is directly from the sky. Once you enter a building or sewer, the sewer becomes a side scroller platforming game.

The controls were very simple. You had the directional pad to move around. You can press B to yield your weapon and A would yield your special weapon.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Sample Gameplay (courtesy NintendoComplete )


I will fully admit, in the 30 years that I have played this game, I have never been able to finish it. It falls into the same category as Ninja Gaiden for me.

The game is not easy. The first mission is the easiest but the subsequent missions are progressively more difficult and can make you rage quit.

I loved that I was able to play as any turtle, however, some of them were more useful than others. Raphael with his short ranged weapon was always the weakest one for me. I would often pick either Donatello or Leonardo. The rest were used only when I had little health for the other two.

There were some areas in the sewers, where you try to jump to another ledge and it is practically impossible. You always hit the ceiling and drop down which causes you to get hit. It feels like the developers wanted to play some sick joke when creating these sections. This was one of the reasons why I would very often rage quit.

The soundtrack is actually pretty good. It is not annoying and it suits the gameplay. Every time that I hear the soundtrack it brings me back to when I was a kid. I think it is underrated as other games are better known for their soundtracks, but this one is up there for sure.

Would I recommend it? I think that it is worth a try. At the time, this was amazing for me and part of me still thinks the same way even though I had a lot of issues with the game. For younger players, they may find it too difficult by today's standards. They would be looking for a save button but there isn't any. This is one game that I would play with save states just to see if I could beat this game once and for all. May be it will be a challenge for one of my future Retro Night in Canada streams.

What do you think? Did you like this game or still do? Let us know.

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