A playthrough of Ultra’s 1990 license-based beat ’em up for the NES, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game.
Played through as Leonardo.
Going into the 1990s, Konami was on a white hot streak with the Turtles license, and this was among the highest profile third-party games I remember ever being released on the NES. Advertisements were everywhere for it, it had a super-heavy Pizza Hut endorsement deal going on (remember those in-game advertisements and the Pizza Hut coupon included in the box?), and even if it didn’t quite match the stunning presentation of the arcade game (youtu.be/fwwM4jSU058 ), it provided an excellent analogue of the gameplay that made that one such a hit a year prior.
(They even kept the woman on the skateboard who screams in terror as you attack her for a bonus point! How awesome is that?)
The graphics were killer by NES standards, it featured Konami’s usual brand of great music with some sick bass and drum lines, and best of all, it allowed for 2-player co-op play. It’s actually a fair bit more difficult than the arcade game was on its “normal” setting – it will kill you over and over until you can reliably judge the timing and position of your attacks, and since the move set has been stripped back a bit, things will take a bit of adjusting to if you’re coming to it fresh off the arcade game – but once you have the basics down, it’s pretty reasonable.
You can’t fault the game for not being “arcade perfect” considering that the NES hardware dates back to 1983, and it’s one helluva close approximation given that the coin-op was on the cutting edge of arcade tech in 1989. Konami went out of their way to make up for the difference, too. There are two brand new stages that are exclusive to this version, and a couple of the arcade game’s stages have been extended in length. There are also a few new bosses, including the mutated fly version of Baxter Stockman who replaces the Bebop and Rocksteady combo at the end of the parking garage stage, as well as the Tora and Shogun characters that were dreamt up specifically for the NES game by the creators of the comic.
Finally, if it has been awhile since you last played, be sure to keep in mind that when you press A and B together (A has to be pressed just ever so slightly before B), your turtle will do a slower moving, much more powerful attack that can clear multiple enemies at once with some good timing. It isn’t a “special move” that drains your life gauge, so you can spam it as much as you like, and it’s worth taking the time to learn how to properly use it. With it, the game moves along at a far brisker pace than you’d see sticking to simple slashes and jump kicks.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game was a hit when it was new, and it has proven itself to be an enduring fan favorite of the NES library over the years. Whatever it lacked in flash, it more than made up for in sheer playability.
No cheats were used during the recording of this video.
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