Monday, August 10, 2009

Retro Game of the Day! TMNT (NES)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

TMNT was a fairly big deal "back in the day," and somehow this offbeat brand continues to earn th' greenbacks to this very day - good for them to last this long, right?

This NES cart was put out into the world by Konami's Ultra subsidiary back in 1989, though in my mind it seems to feel like it was a year or two earlier than that, but hey..!

So. the Turtles. Where to begin- right, so I was a pretty big fan of this franchise when the old B/W indie comics were big, and of course like anyone else I watched the cartoons and the movie. When I saw pics of this "coming soon for Nintendo!" I knew it would be mine - it looked soooo goood! I wanted it bad, everyone wanted a copy of the Turtles - it just seemed to have everything that would make a video game great (lots of fighting, lots of character, lots of ninja stuff, a bit of sci-fi, Konami was in charge)..

When the game finally released, it was met with a mixed reception. It wasn't a bad game, but it was.. quite strange. For one, it was rather difficult. The controls were a little iffy and sloppy, not horrible but enough to make you want to bite the controller, many times. Also, though this looked amazing in magazine prints, onscreen the colors looked kindof garish and crazy. Not too unusual for a NES game, but somehow this was a bit off and all the levels had this kind of yucky look to them. Likewise, many of the enemy sprites were just weird and ugly. We lived in a spoiled time when all the enemies in Super Mario Bros, Megaman, and Metroid just looked oh-so-lovingly-crafted. The junk in TMNT largely looked like a bunch of phoned-in garbage. Okay, I am being a little harsh, but Nintendo games could do much better than this. And Konami for crying out loud-

As for everything else - well, like I said, a mixed reaction. In spite of it's flaws, it had a long quest, a large overworld with an interesting theme, and the characters all felt cool and different to use, enough to keep the game fresh throughout. The auto-map made life easier, and the powerups - though mostly unglamorous - were sufficient to even the odds at times (the scroll, shot like a wave burst, was a powerful and cool-looking weapon). As the game progressed from the bland-ish early levels, it did unfold into a typically enjoyable Nintendoean Adventure, one which grabbed you by the face and compelled you to wrestle with it's shoddy controls to see "just a little further!"

I remember getting late into the game and battling a screen-filling Technodrome boss. THIS was what I shelled out my $60 for. I never saw an animated menace this big trying to kill me on my TV screen before. Very impressive. Following that, it's time to head into the final boss's lair for the ultimate showdown..

..ouch. TMNT was a punishing enough game, but the final boss could ace you in one shot. Brutal. I think I made it to him twice before throwing in the towel. Too damned hard, especially after the buildup of the final levels! Even now I regret giving up, Shredder was a formidable foe and a worthy adversary. He killed my ass.

In hindsight, a satisfying enough purchase which I got my money's worth out of, back in the day. A lopsided game to be sure, but fun enough that I can look back on it with the old Rose-Tinted glasses "yeah I am sure it'd still be fun to play." Again, the music was pretty good (if goofy at times, like some crazy cartoon). Time may not have been kind to the Turtles' first NES outing, and most folks prefer to linger on about their arcade-based escapades, but for a time I did have some fun with this NES game.

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