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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES)


profholt82

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I've long considered the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game on the Nintendo to be my favorite of the series. The NES sequels are fun beat em ups, as are the Genesis and Super Nintendo games, but the first game is something entirely different. If you want to have a fun co-op experience with a buddy, you really can't go wrong with any of the beat em up games, but if you want to sit down by yourself and have a serious gaming session, the first Turtles game is the way to go.

Yet for some reason, for as long as I can remember reading about original Nintendo games on the internet (early aughts or so), this game seems to have been derided by many people for one reason or another. There's no denying that it's tough as nails once you get deep into it, and it certainly requires time and patience (and trial and error) to complete. But as a kid, when I got a new game, all I had was time and patience to complete it (and this was one of those games), so I guess difficulty in games has never bothered me as much as it does some others.

While I grew up with TMNT when it was new, I hadn't sat down and played it in ages, so I suppose I had mostly forgotten about how difficult it was. But I recently picked up and watched the new blu-ray release of the classic movie The Wizard, and in it, there's a scene where Beau Bridges (who plays the dad) is playing TMNT and is all jacked up and into it. It's one of those scenes that stuck a chord with me because I can remember playing Pong and some Atari 2600 games causally with my dad back in the 80s, but when the Nintendo came along, it was as if those games were too complicated for him to figure out. He'd try to play Super Mario Bros. with me, but couldn't get past the first level in spite of trying fruitlessly with his furrowed brow. Seeing Beau Bridges in that scene took me right back, and it also put the Turtles game in my head. And sure enough, within a day or two, I popped TMNT into my console for the first time in a long time and gave it whirl.

Well, the difficulty level in this game is no joke. Compared to many of the NES games I've played over the past few years, this is definitely one of the tougher ones. It took me about 4 or 5 days of plugging away at it for an hour or two at a time before I finally finished it. "Welp, the kids are in bed, time for dad to play his vidyagames..." Hahahaha, but, man, was finally beating this bad boy ever a feeling of accomplishment.

A helpful tip I'll throw out there is when you get a scroll weapon, change turtles and save that baby for when you really need it. The problem is that even if you don't have your special weapon selected, when you're fighting through a slog of enemies, often new weapon icons will drop and you'll pick one up unwittingly, losing your scroll in the process. It's quite frustrating. That said, I actually ended up defeating Shredder the second time I faced him with the boomerang as I didn't have the scroll. His pattern is fairly easy to learn, and I stayed on the top right step and just jumped and fired the boomerang at him between his attacks. So, there you go.

The process of getting to him though, sheeeeesh.... The brutal Technodrome level and the seemingly endless maze through the airfield, it's definitely a test of endurance with plenty of trial and error. But when you finally get there and take him down, well, it's dang satisfying.

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I hated this game so much as a kid. I was a huge fan of the Turtles, but this game frustrated me to no end. No matter what I could never get past the bomb detonation underwater level. I even had my neighbor, who was a pro at video games, try it, and nothing. This game was darn near impossible for me. It was the one time I even considered calling the hotline, but my mom put the kibosh on that immediately. The TMNT arcade game was more manageable on the NES, after the actual arcade game was such a cheating quarter muncher. 

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I would say that your opinion of TMNT is shared by the majority of gamers, Gandalf. I just tend to go against the grain with it. I find that the game has a lot of depth and variety, and in spite of the difficulty, it rewards persistence. I enjoy the beat em ups as much as anyone though, especially with a buddy. But the first game offers a unique experience that you can't get from them. I'd suggest giving it a fresh chance, and to be patient with it to see if your opinion of it has changed from your childhood.

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16 minutes ago, profholt82 said:

I would say that your opinion of TMNT is shared by the majority of gamers, Gandalf. I just tend to go against the grain with it. I find that the game has a lot of depth and variety, and in spite of the difficulty, it rewards persistence. I enjoy the beat em ups as much as anyone though, especially with a buddy. But the first game offers a unique experience that you can't get from them. I'd suggest giving it a fresh chance, and to be patient with it to see if your opinion of it has changed from your childhood.

Are you saying these things from the perspective of an adult, or were you sitting there as a kid enamored with its depth and variety? That's not a snarky question. I'm asking sincerely. I've tried playing older games, primarily older Sega games, and realized how difficult and just plain bad some of my faves were from back then. I used to have so much fun playing Golden Axe, but now as an adult I'm just annoyed that dumb kid me loved this extremely cheap difficulty level. Mind you, I have gone back and played the original Ninja Gaiden, and while I was frustrated with that as a kid, I do quite enjoy it now. 

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Everything I said was as an adult, if you want to call me that. 😜

But when I had the game as a kid, it was one of the first games I owned on the NES, so I played the heck out of it because I didn't have much else to play. It had enough variety in its gameplay to keep my interest, whereas the later Arcade Game port was more of a weekend rental type of game for me as there was very little variety there. Fun with a buddy, but boring after a half hour or so single player. The first game, while hard, kept me coming back for more.

Similar in that regard to Ninja Gaiden which you mention. A game that kicks my tuchus, but I have to keep trying. Oh my gosh, those freaking hawks and the flying guys who drop stars on you.... gahhhhhh! Ninja Gaiden is a better game than TMNT, but not by a lot in my opinion. I swear TMNT is an underrated game, and perhaps a bit too hard, but you just need to stick with it.

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7 minutes ago, profholt82 said:

Everything I said was as an adult, if you want to call me that. 😜

But when I had the game as a kid, it was one of the first games I owned on the NES, so I played the heck out of it because I didn't have much else to play. It had enough variety in its gameplay to keep my interest, whereas the later Arcade Game port was more of a weekend rental type of game for me as there was very little variety there. Fun with a buddy, but boring after a half hour or so single player. The first game, while hard, kept me coming back for more.

Similar in that regard to Ninja Gaiden which you mention. A game that kicks my tuchus, but I have to keep trying. Oh my gosh, those freaking hawks and the flying guys who drop stars on you.... gahhhhhh! Ninja Gaiden is a better game than TMNT, but not by a lot in my opinion. I swear TMNT is an underrated game, and perhaps a bit too hard, but you just need to stick with it.

As a kid I just didn't have that much patience to deal with such an unbelievably difficult game. Other games like Mega Man and Metroid were difficult, but I could tolerate their degree of difficulty, because I learned from my mistakes and made progress. TMNT was just hard for no reason, and I gained nothing with my defeats. I eventually gave up and never played it again. 

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