Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Overview and game play
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (“TMNT”) is a horizontally scrolling fighter for 1-4 players based upon the popular cartoon series that reached the peak of its success in the late 80’s and early 90’s. The Konami team who created the game were:
G. Suzuki (program)
Mariyanma 25 (characters)
K. Hattori (graphic)
Y. Asano (visual)
K. Yamashita (animation)
S. Tasaka, Imo Hideto (sound)
M. Izumi, Miki Chang (music)
S. Matsumoto (hardware)
One coin is required per player and each coin is worth one credit. Depending upon which version of the game you are playing (2 or 4 players) you will then have the option of choosing a turtle from the four featured in the TV Show using the joystick to move left or right and pressing button 1 to make your selection. The turtles look similar to each other but can be distinguished by their colourful headbands and by the different weapons that they use. Michaelangelo has an orange headband and is the “Party Dude” of the group and he uses a Nunchaku as his weapon. The others are: Leonardo, (blue headband, uses a katana blade); Raphael, (red headband, uses a pair of Sai) and Donatello, (purple headband, uses a Bo Staff). Once a turtle has been selected for each player, scene 1 of the game begins with a brief animation showing the turtles jumping off a multi-storey building to rescue a female TV journalist who is a friend of the turtles called April from a burning building. The viewpoint then switches to a side view and the turtles must then make their way through the scene to find April and defeat all enemies they encounter who obstruct them. Controlling the turtles is by moving the joystick in any of eight directions to make a turtle walk the direction desired and pressing button 1 makes a turtle swing his weapon in the direction he is facing. Pressing button 2 causes a turtle to jump and if this is combined with the other controls, jumping attacks can be performed. An energy meter at the top of the screen is displayed for each turtle in play and when it reaches zero the game is over. Energy can be lost by enemy attacks but can be replenished by finding and eating pizza, the turtle’s favourite food. At the end of each scene there is a boss character or robot to encounter and defeat and after this is done in scene one, the turtles nemesis, Shredder, quickly grabs April and jumps out of the window. A still picture is then shown of the turtles jumping after him and scene 2 then starts to locate and rescue April.
The game continues with the eventual rescue of April and then the kidnapping of the turtles teacher, a giant rat called Splinter. The turtles must then rescue Splinter and after that they must then find the Technodrome, where Shredder and his boss, (an alien named Krang) live to defeat them. Cut-scene pictures are displayed between each scene to develop the plot and give the player(s) a rest before continuing. Fans of the TV show will recognise some of the boss characters: Rocksteady and Bebop and also enjoy the insults and taunts that were typical in the cartoon and appear in speech bubbles by the enemies e.g. “tonight I’ll dine on turtle soup!”. The added humour and the use of a plot improve the game’s appeal and make it a more fun experience.
Throughout the game there are several game play tips and tricks worth learning:
In the sewer level, if you align your foot very close to the edge of the step without falling down, you can be invincible. You can still hit enemies with whatever type of attack you want, but they can't hit you.
You can theoretically get unlimited points. Use the yellow ninjas boomerang. Lead one yellow ninja in such a way that he gets stuck at an object (fire hydrant or barrel) between you and him, aligned horizontally. He will try to move toward you, but he won't be able to move since the object is near him. Get close enough to him so that he starts throwing boomerangs. You can kill each one for (wow!) 1 point.
In the sewer level, stand just below the ledge in the middle of the screen. Then jump straight up. You will land just on the edge of the upper level. Nothing can hurt you for the rest of that level, but you can kill anything that comes close enough to you. (You can't move up or down though, or you'll have to repeat this trick).
Also in the sewer level, you can keep from getting hit by walking right along the edge of the brick floor. This prevents enemies from attacking you from multiple directions. You still need to nail enemies directly in front of you or behind you. This is easy with Donatello.
Killing most bosses consist of 3 strategies. They all consist of moving vertically towards the bosses.
1: Move vertically upwards, hit the boss, and move vertically downwards. Repeat until dead. This works well on Bebop.
2: Wait for the boss to move vertically down towards you, wait for him, hit him, and move vertically upwards. Repeat until he's dead. Works best on Rocksteady. Best results occur when you hit and run at the same time.
3: Wait for the boss to move vertically towards you. Jump over him, move through him and attack as you do this, keep moving. Repeat. This works well on the big robots.
TMNT features good graphics for a late 80’s game with well-designed backgrounds and characters. Each of the turtles is instantly recognisable and their animations are well implemented and smooth. Sometimes, an enemy grabs a turtle while another attacks the turtle. The player must then either waggle the joystick or press both buttons repeatedly until he can break free and the animation for this struggle is good. The enemies that attack the turtles can also create different animations that add to the variety of the game and enhance the game play. Robots on wheels shoot out cables to electrocute the turtles and a boss robot with a flamethrower roasts the turtles creating a humorous animation of the turtle that was hit looking at the player with a charred face.
The backgrounds of each scene are nicely drawn and interesting. As the turtles live in a sewer, one scene is set there with ninjas climbing on pipes to drop down in an ambush. Another scene requires the turtles to skateboard down a street while fighting flying enemies and other foes also on skateboards. The backgrounds have also been created to contain surprises in places such as a car that speeds out of the screen followed by three enemies with guns or a billboard on a wall that is pushed to the ground and two enemies who were hiding behind it then attack. These ambushes add a lot to the game play and make it more fun and enjoyable.
Upon inserting a coin the famous “cowabunga!” sample is played plus the synthesized TMNT theme tune while the game waits for other players to insert their coins. The digitized TMNT theme tune is then played (as in the TV series with singing) during the introductory animation.
Pleasing synthesized music plays that is accompanied by digitized sound effects for all on-screen actions. There are several occasions where the turtles shout catchphrases from the TV show, which adds a lot to the atmosphere, characterisation of the turtles and game play. The UK version of TMNT was called “Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles” because ninjas were not deemed suitable as a potential idol for children. On the title screen of the UK version, the game has been renamed but the song from the US version of the TV show was left intact with the word “ninja” in the tune.