Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – A Perilous NES Platformer

As a kid, I had this strange love-hate relationship with Ultra’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle game for the original NES. Naturally, like a lot of kids back in 1989, I thought the Turtles cartoon was awesome. I thought it was neat to get to play a game that let me control the turtles and go bash some baddies, and (for what it’s worth) in many ways, the game was actually pretty decent. However, it’s also a game that many have said is one of the hardest games on the NES, and it’s also a game that’s been criticized for being very strange and not quite TMNT in style.

One thing I noticed when revisiting this game is that the difficulty curve ramps up fast; the second area of the game (the Dam) is really hard, and the lake where you go to diffuse the bombs is pretty intense. Without utilizing some save-states, it’s really difficult to get through, and as a kid I think I only got through it a couple times. The enemies in the game are also strange. While some favorites like Rocksteady and Bebop make appearances, as well as Foot soldiers, there are also weird robots, bugs, giant frogs, and even shirtless guys with chainsaws. And on top of all this, there’s the fact that unlike the arcade ventures, this one is very maze-like in design and overall quite different.

I don’t believe it’s one of the worst NES games of all time, but it’s certainly a flawed one. In some ways, it’s still a fun game, but in other ways, I’d say that it evokes frustration, anger, and confusion even today.

Regardless, hopefully you enjoy this trip down (frustrating?) memory lane, and stay tuned for some more fun on the way!

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