Retrorevisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1-4 (NES & SNES)

Retrorevisited is a stream series where I revisit a game or a game series I haven’t played in over 10 or 20+ years. I’ll go through to try see what I remember until a game over or I run out of continues. In some cases muscle memory may slowly return, in others probably not. This is a chance for me to revisit games of my youth that I still have or had at one point, playing them with and without nostalgia goggles, and do with mini-reviews of them too. If I decide to play any fully later and do a full review, parts of the mini-review would be incorporated into it. Depending on the playstyle or system, games reviewed will either be mini-reviews or one about all games in this session.

Like most kids in the 80’s, I grew up on the first TMNT cartoon, and the first NES title. Even back then I figured there was quite a bit off with it, especially the challenge and jankiness. Like most kids and teens, my friends and I devoured the 2 arcade titles, and loved the home versions for the NES and SNES, and even liked TMNT3 which built on the brawler style and wasn’t based on an arcade title. So in my retrorevisited video, TMNT 1 I limped my way to stage 3, TMNT 2 and 3 I made it to stage 3 also! TMNT 4 I made it to stage 5! Both TMNT2 and 3 have hidden codes to increase lives, difficulty and a stage select.

I recently played through the Famicom TMNT2 (called TMNT in Japan) and TMNT3 (called TMNT2) there, and there are a number of difficulty, graphical and gameplay changes worth looking up too.

(Reviews will be of TMNT 1-3 will be together, and TMNT 4 in a separate paragraph due to different system as the other 2.)

GRAPHICS AND SOUND: Graphics in TMNT1 are from a sideview and everything looks decent. The turtles are large enough and really only way to tell them apart is the headband color and weapons. Enemies vary and are all depicted well, though I have no idea where most of them come from (though it’s said since the game came out in 1987 there wasn’t much source material to pull from yet). TMNT2 does a great job turning the arcade game into a well-received 8bit rendition from the levels, the turtles design and the various cinema scenes. Beating up bosses enough makes them start to flash until they die in 2 and 3. The foot soldiers all come in different colors and designs in TMNT2 and 3 and other backgrounds are quite well done and look like they’re supposed to be. The graphics look even better for everything in TMNT3 for the turtles, cinema scenes and more.

TMNT4 is pretty much pixel-perfect from the arcade game turned to a 16bit joy. From the cinema scenes, turtle selection, the level names screens and enemies and bosses you’ll find right from the arcade Turtles in Time. Changes to this for the home version I’ll mention later.

Music in TMNT1 is ok, there’s some levels with better music than others, and the sound effects of weapons slashing and clashing against the enemies won’t get annoying. Get used to hearing the electric shock sound of the seaweed in the swimming part of level 2 though. For TMNT2 the game again does great 8bit renditions of the music from the arcade game so it’ll all be music you remember from playing this at the arcade or bowling alley. I really like the music the most in TMNT3, again you won’t tire of it fighting your way through Shredder’s armies.

TMNT4’s tracks are again straight from the arcade and you can groove out to your favs at home. I still love “Sewer Surfin'” to this day. hell the soundtracks for all 4 games are worth listening to at max volume on youtube.

PLAY CONTROL: Play control in the first game is one of the reasons it’s either loved or hated. Your turtles control ok, but you can lose control easily when jumping since they spin in a ball and you’re trying to land on a small platform. Getting hitback from enemies can result in getting bounced around till dead very easily. Trying to control your turtle through the currents in the swimming level is hell. TMNT2 you move around and can attack, jump, jump kick and do a special attack hitting both the a and b buttons together. Controls feel stiffer than I remember, resulting in making it hard to jump or do damage to enemies. The controls in TMNT3 are a lot smoother and tighter and your turtles control beautifully and your basic moves are the same as the previous title.

Controlling your turtle is just as easy as the arcade, and in the option menu you can change your control mapping. Best thing i’ve found is sitting your special attack to its own button, no more hitting jump and attack for your specials anymore!

CHALLENGE: The challenge in the first game is something people either love or hate about it compared to the later games. parts can be easy, or obnoxiously hard especially boss fights. There is the trick to go in and out of areas to reset to an easier set of enemies there but that can only go so far. The swimming level will give you nightmares trying to fight the currents, avoid the seaweed and the underwater plants that grab you. Be sure to spend lots of time mapping the later levels and trial and error with this, cause it can either be fun or hard. TMNT2 is as hard as the arcade version was, though seems like some bosses were more difficult. The 2 new areas have some different enemies so you have to adjust your tactics for them. TMNT3 is the same as 2, but the levels are a lot longer and the boss fights can be brutal, especially the last ones with Shredder, Tokka, Krang, and Super Shredder. Be default, you get 3 continues with TMNT1-3 also. A nice feature with 3 is changing your turtle on the fly when you lose a life.

TMNT4 has an option menu from the start to change the game difficulty, and the amount of lives and continues you begin with is tied to that. The game can be tough, since there’s some changes between the SNES and arcade, such as the 1st person view Shredder fight before he sends you into the time warp. You need to keep throwing foot soldiers into Shredder to damage him. Like the other games, easy to get surrounded and watch your life go down fast if you get juggled, same with the bosses.

TMNT: 3.0
TMNT 2: 3.5
TMNT 3: 4.0
TMNT 4: 4.5


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