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.