It’s the summer of 1989 and if you are an old fart like me you were totally into the TMNT cartoon that began airing a few years earlier. One day I stepped into my favorite arcade and there in the premiere section was the awesome full-sized, four-player game. I remember the first thing I heard was the theme song straight from the cartoon in perfect stereo sound.
Even if you aren’t in your thirties like me chances are you saw the TMNT game in your local arcade because it had a long and successful run. There were two versions, the four-player one and the two-player version. With both you could pick from the four famous turtles, but with the four-player one you could play as the full team.
TMNT was the epitome of beat-em-up games, your goal was simple, beat the Shredder and Krang and take out the Tecnodrome. However, the game starts out with April, the yellow jump suited lady friend of the team being kidnapped and you having to save her.
You start off in a burning building fighting foot soldiers which came in a variety of colors and flavors spouting all types of different weapons from guns, to swords to sonic fans. The idea was to overwhelm you as the foot would try to flank and surround you to attack from all sides.
One of the cool things about the game was you could use the environment to your advantage. You could hit street signs and coin meters to send them flying at the foot. There were also cans that if hit wouldsmoke and then explode. You could also throw some bad guys again the wall where they would smack into it and slowly slide down. The bad news was all this could be done to you as well.
In the game you had the choice the four turtles which each had their own unique traits. Donatello had a long range but a slower attack, Raphael and Michelangelo were very fast, but had a short reach and the leader Leonardo was pretty balanced between speed and range.
As for controls it was pretty easy which was good because this was a button mashing boot-camp of a game. You had only two buttons jump and attack, but you could press jump and attack together to do a special move be it a jumping swing attack or like with Raphael a rolling attack. You could also throw the foot over head and if attacking a foot in front of you and another snuck up from behind you could pull of a quick back attack to send them flying.
Back to level one, after making your way through the building and avoiding things like the falling bolder down the stairs and those awful robots, you find April cowering in a room sounded by the foot. After taking out the foot a drill capsule comes up from the ground and Rocksteady, the mutant rhino, attacks. He isn’t too hard to beat with his machine gun and slow kicks, but after you do the Shredder appears to steal April away from you once again.
You continue on into the streets fighting more foot and come across the only way besides beating the level to replenish your health, pizza. Soon after your snack you face Bebop, the mutant warthog which I always found harder with his sonic pulse gun and charge attack. I also found myself falling in the sewer which by the way took a bar of health.
With Bebop down you move to the sewers, but this familiar territory is filled with more foot and biting robots provided by Baxter Stockman who you fight as the levels boss. Then it’s back topside for another street level and then the rematch where you fight Bebop and Rocksteady together. This fight can be tough, but you if you keep your distance and use quick attacks it’s not too bad. Also you can separate them and when you both charge you jump and watch them crash into each other.
With April safe it’s time for revenge which takes you toward the Tecnodrome. On the way you fight a horde of foot soldiers and rocket across the streets in a jet powered skateboard before the turtle van cashes and you find your master, Splinter being carried away.
To get Splinter back you face one of the cheapest bosses in the game, at least in my opinion. The first stone warrior you come across can easily cost you several rolls of quarters. Not only can he trap you in the corner and repeatedly knock you down, but he also can turn your face to toast with his flamethrower. Did I also mention he has a ton of hit points? After you finally lay the smack-down on him you rescue splinter and then it’s off to kick some Tecnodrome ass.
As expected the Tencodrome is packed full with foot soldiers and tons of traps like lasers, freeze rays, robots oh and another cheap stone warrior. However, this stone warrior isn’t half as bad and even though he is sporting a rocket launches he is easily defeatable. Now it’s just you and the two final bosses.
Khang the pink brain of the team comes out from behind an energy screen in his makeshift body firing lasers from its eyes and kicking you if you get close. Stick and move is the key to this fight and soon his robot body will be scrap, but as Khang exclaims while he flies away; “I’m invincible!”
Finally its Shredder time! Shredder is a master swordsman so his sword attacks are fast and deadly. He also has powerful kicked that can send you flying out of your shell. To add to this he can also split into two creating a clone of himself that is just as powerful. Finally he has his mutant ray that can turn you back into a normal turtle effectively one shotting you.
I’ve found the key is to keep them together and take em both out. Soon both their helmets come off and the fight is over. The Tecnodrome is destroyed and you are left to wonder if you will see Krang and the Shredder again, the answer is yes.
TMNT is one of those arcade games that is still fun to play today. It was released for many consoles including the NES though for the NES it was called TMNT 2 because the first TMNT game was god awful and I will not speak on it. If you want to know about it check out this video from the Angry Video Game Nerd.
If you are felling nostalgic you can get TMNT the arcade came on X-box live. Trust me, if you haven’t played this game you need to. TMNT is truly a classic; it had everything a gamer could want. Pure fun, pure excitement, pure turtle power!