Saturday, March 2, 2013

Emulator Hour: TMNT (nes)

Friggin' sweet, right?

Jaconian's previous post- about the elusive composers of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles NES game-- got me thinking about how bloody hard that game was.  Specifically this playthrough that he linked, for the purpose of showing off the thrilling dialogue, and more importantly: that there are no credits (you know, because 'fuck you' for beating this super-hard game?) Before watching that video, I had never before seen anyone beat this game.

TMNT for NES was obnoxiously hard. But 8-year old me was determined to love this game.  After all, it was the Turtles, my favorite show of all-time (for a couple years.)  I have a distinct memory of making the statement "I don't think I'll ever get tired of this game" - and having the adults in the room laugh at me.  I  dimly realized that what I was saying was absurd, but I think I just wanted to make it perfectly clear that I really loved the Ninja Turtles.  Just so there's no doubt. I essentially wanted to marry this game.  

I got pretty good at it, too.  These days I hear people complain about the water level whenever anybody mentions TMNT for nes.  But that level really isn't all that bad.  It's just one level, and you have to disarm the mines and avoid getting zapped.  Piece of cake... after playing it only a hundred or so times, I got to where there was only a couple spots that would zap me.  No Problem.

What was much harder for me was the third stage, where drive around in the turtle van and go into buildings, collect a zip line or grappling hook or something, and then eventually cross from one building to another.  This level was super-hard and super time consuming because... and this is important:  the basic gameplay of TMNT fucking sucked.  

Oh, I wanted desperately to love it, but the programming of this game is complete shit.  First let's talk about what they do right:  four turtles, check.  Super-high jumping, check.  Neat Turtles Music, check.  That's all that is good about this game.  The bad stuff:  Play control - loose and slippery.  On top of bad controls, the game has the worst re-spawn of any game I ever played.  If you so much at twitch in the wrong direction, all the enemies return.  This quickly becomes obnoxious.  The third level involved wandering to different buildings, and playing through them, searching for something that might not be there, and getting hosed because the gameplay was so sloppy.  

Watching the playthrough of TMNT, I can see the player employ a strategy of arming different turtles with different weapons, in order to break them out as the situation demands.  That's a nice idea, but I rarely did that.  Mostly I changed turtles because I ran out of friggin' life, and just wanted to beat the friggin' level!  So what I would end up with was three turtles, each with half a life point left.  Woop-dee-doo.

Still, with enough repetitions, I could beat the third level consistently.  And on to the fourth, which was cool, because there were Mousers.  And Mousers are just cool.  In fact, there's even a giant Mouser that is super-easy to beat with Donatello.  

I made it to the Technodrome a few times, and even got inside once, using the badass scrolls to put it's big-dumb eye out.

Anyway.  Yeah.  Crappy game that I was desperate to love.  I think there's a lesson in there, but I don't know it is.  




  1. The tactics I used for this game (using a Turtle to death) was pretty much the same too. I'd usually start with Leonardo or Michelangelo and switch to Donatello for the first couple of boss fights. I'm pretty sure that there was an area where you could rescue one of your turtles is they previously had died.

    Of all the years that I'd played, I only made as far as the airport once. That level would just drain my life so quickly, or I would end up not having much life after the fight with MechaTurtle.

    And before you posted the art used for the cover, I had always thought that the giant "engine" thing was part of the Turtle-Blimp with the skyline of New York in the background. Ah well, they're all just memories.

  2. I had always thought that all the cyborgs were trying to corral the turtles onto the yellow-platform thing because then they would flip a switch and the other yellow-engine thing would like, close on them or something.
    I also would like to mention Leonardo's pose: He looks like he's really ready to do some *chopping* and I always loved that.