The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are set to make quite the gaming comeback, as NetherRealm Studios will be hosting a live stream to officially introduce them into the fold as playable characters in Injustice 2.
But anyone who’s a hardcore gamer or a dedicated comic book fan knows that the Turtles have a storied history in video games. Sure, some of them didn’t quite turn out the way we expected (like the infuriating NES Ninja Turtles game from LJN, or whatever Mutants In Manhattan was), but there were some games that were nothing short of absolute gems.
So let’s take a look now at our favorite Ninja Turtles games. They’ll no doubt put you in the mood for some pizza and yelling, “Man, I love being a turtle!” (Even though you’re not, obviously.)
Of course we have to start with the video game that really put the Turtles on the map – the four-player Konami-produced arcade fest that ate thousands of quarters way back in 1989. This game not only attracted players of all ages, but it also began a trend of four player arcade hits for the publisher, including The Simpsons, Sunsetriders and Marvel’s X-Men (which had even more players – with six!). It’s still a favorite these days, especially if you can track down a copy of the Xbox 360 downloadable edition, which supports both four player action and online play with others.
If not, there’s a decent consolation prize – the NES port of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game, which is pretty good for 8-bit.
Following the success of the original arcade game, Konami returned with Turtles In Time, a fun sequel/spin-off that featured all new moves for each character, as well as new bosses and an enjoyable time-travel motif. But the publisher actually improved upon the game with its home release on the Super Nintendo. Even though it was only a two-player game, TMNT IV: Turtles In Time introduced more characters (like Bebop and Rocksteady, in pirate garb; and the Rat King!), cool 3D Mode 7 effects, and a solid presentation. It’s easily one of the best arcade-to-home translations of all time, and a romp if you can find a copy for a reasonable price.
Be sure to avoid Turtles In Time Re-shelled, though. It just…isn’t that good.
The Sega Genesis Ninja Turtles game wasn’t a port of Turtles In Time like most players were expecting. But it did get The Hyperstone Heist, an equally enjoyable side-scrolling beat-em-up for one or two players. In it, the city’s been shrunken down to size by the evil Shredder, and the Turtles must recover it in one piece. Featuring some terrific graphics and music (for the Sega Genesis, anyway), as well as a handful of awesome boss encounters (hey, look, Tatsu from the old Ninja Turtles movies!) and an improved control scheme, The Hyperstone Heist, even with its shrunken down theme, proved to be larger than life. Good luck finding a copy – it’s going on eBay for a pretty good price complete.
Konami really went all out with its Tournament Fighters series, producing three different games for three different consoles. The NES version wasn’t too shabby for an 8-bit brawler, but the Genesis version left something to be desired.
Fortunately, the SNES version hit on all the right notes, perfectly capturing the popular Street Fighter II vibe while infusing its own cast of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, along with a number of their friends and enemies. Featuring fantastic music and graphics, and gameplay that would make a fighting pro proud, Tournament Fighters continues to be a cult classic. A re-release would certainly be aces. “Attack, attack!”
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games for the Game Boy were okay, though they were limited to single player adventures – and a bit tough to see in some instances. However, Radical Rescue turned out to be quite the exception to the rule. First off, each of the Turtles offer some great gameplay elements that make them worth having on hand. Secondly, the Metroidvania style approach is pretty awesome, giving you more to explore than the usual Turtle fare. Finally, the graphics actually look really good – well, for the Game Boy, anyway. Good luck hunting a copy down, though – it’s going for big bucks on the used game front. Worth it, though.
Most of the Ninja Turtles’ later game releases didn’t really have much to offer. Mutants In Manhattan was interesting, but not quite on the same level as Platinum Games’ previous Transformers Devastation.
Fortunately, Ubisoft’s movie-licensed TMNT wasn’t that shabby. The game utilizes the company’s Prince of Persia game engine, featuring a strong combination of beat-em-up action and platforming segments. It’s a little bit too easily beaten, and the voicework can drone on for a lot longer than you’d expect, but if it’s a modern Turtle romp that you need before you tackle Injustice 2, TMNT is a pretty good choice.
Finally, while the 8-bit port of The Arcade Game was pretty good on the NES front, a lot of players were looking for an arcade-style beat-em-up custom built for the hardware. Fortunately, they got it with The Manhattan Project, a thrilling adventure where you choose your favorite Turtle and attempt to rescue the city from being an airborne prison.
The game features a number of familiar faces, heroes and villains alike, and the gameplay has been nicely revamped over the original Arcade release with enjoyable new power moves. Plus, the game is a total blast in two player, especially when you start competing for the high score.
A copy of Manhattan Project shouldn’t run you too high in cost, so check your local game store for some beat-em-up joy. Don’t forget to pick up a pizza for yourself as well.