TMNT: A Gaming Retrospective

We got one hell of a bombshell yesterday; the Australian ratings board gave ‘Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan’ a ‘M’ rating.

“What the hell is Mutants in Manhattan?” I hear you cry!

Well dear readers, it is the new TMNT game being developed by Platinum Games. This is an incredibly exciting piece of news!

As a kid I was a massive TMNT fan (wasn’t everybody?!)! I played numerous video games featuring them and I owned a mountain of (legit and illegitimate) turtles action figures. I could not get enough of those dudes with tudes!


As an adult I am a massive Platinum Games fan! They have never made a bad game (Legend of Korra notwithstanding); their recent output has been excellent and includes Bayonetta 2 and Transformers Devastation. I cannot be more excited to play a new TMNT game; especially that it has the potential to be excellent!

It got me thinking though, TMNT have featured in a huge amount of games and I have played more than my fair share of them. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and do mini-reviews for the titles that I have played.

(Note: I am in Ireland, so for me these games were all called Hero turtles).  

Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles (Amstrad CPC-464)

The very first TMNT game I ever played was a surprisingly good one! It featured some of the best graphics and animations on the system and had a varied playstyle. The turtles were all the exact same though, so who you controlled was down to personal preference. While this may disappoint some, being able to use Michelangelo for the majority of the game was awesome as a 7-year-old!

Gameplay wise the game was split into two distinct parts – the overworld where you had to find a sewer and, of course, the action levels. The action is very much a 2D platformer with extremely basic combat but the jumps are never frustrating, the underwater level is 1,000,000 times easier than the NES version and eventually there was even a great turtles mobile to drive around the overworld in and take out the Foot Clan with!

So far so good, except the sound was non-existent. There was literally two sounds in the game they were variations of a buzz and they were absolutely atrocious.

Even as a kid, this game was easy especially compared to the brutal NES version! But I played it to death and really enjoyed the game, eventually completing it numerous times.


Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles (Arcade)

I don’t think that I need to say very much about this game. It was a Konami 2D side scrolling beat’em’up that was popular in the late 80s/early 90s and it was exquisite!

Featuring absolutely astounding graphics, animations and sound this really did capture the cartoon series in all of its glory. I could only play it while on holiday (our local arcade was full of gamblers) but my brothers and I literally played it for hours every day; spending most of our money on the game.

It looked incredible, sounded incredible and it never got old.

To this day it remains a shining example of the genre and stands shoulder to shoulder with the other great games of its type. For my money this is every bit as good as Streets of Rage and Golden Axe.


Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist (Mega Drive/Genesis)

Poor Hyperstone Heist, it gets no love – everyone remembers its cousin title on the SNES Tutles in Time (henceforth TIT) and that’s it. What we have here though is a great side scrolling beat’em’up that almost matches the arcade title, but ultimately falls short.

Hyperstone Heist is a gorgeous game, the turtles are look exactly like they did in the television show and were exceptionally well animated (more so than Turtles in Time), I would say the animation on display here is almost to the level of the Aladdin game.

Both the turtles and the game move with a real sense of speed, it is played at a much higher tempo than either TIT or the Arcade game – the speed that it is played really makes this the most challenging of all the TMNT side-scrollers. perseverance is definitely advised though to witness the levels as they are beautiful with real depth to the backgrounds. They are also incredibly long with exceptional boss fights; although there are only 5 of them.

Sound wise the game sounds good, the music comes from the arcade game and TIT but is sped up, it sounds great but it is clearly inferior to both the arcade game and Turtles in time, the digitised voices are also pretty horrendous – often they are inaudible.

Overall this is my third favourite turtles game ever.


Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles: Turtles in Time (SNES)

The cousin title to the Hyperstone heist is undoubtedly the best of the bunch. While it doesn’t have the animation or number of background layers of the Genesis title, or the (in my mind anyway) iconic status of the arcade title; TIT eclipses both of them by being the best overall package.

Like the other two games it is stunningly beautiful. The turtles are hugely detailed, animated well and looked exactly like the television show. The sound is also excellent, the theme tune sounds exactly like it should, in fact, the soundtrack as a whole is one of the greatest to ever grace a video game. Even the digitised voice acting sounds good!

Although I didn’t play this as much as I did the other two, it is the meter stick by which other TMNT games are measured to this day and that is a title that is earned.


Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles: Tournament Fighters (MegaDrive/Genesis)

Where to start with this one?

Terrible. It was terrible!

Lets start with the obvious, the control scheme is absolutely horrendous. TMN:TF features a two button system with a kick and a punch button, the third button on the controller is a taunt button. To do heavy strikes you had to hold the direction and push an attack button, as you can imagine this was hideously imprecise and unreliable. In the end what you had was a fighting game that you had no faith in your ability to reliably perform the move you wanted. In the era of SFII this was utterly unacceptable.

The graphics were also terrible, sure the fighters themselves looked amazing and were well animated but those backgrounds were flat, lifeless and soulless. If we compare the best background in TMNT:TF to SFII its a non-starter, it can’t compete. The sound wasn’t much better, it was grimy and low fidelity – this game was a disappointment.

The worst part is the SNES version was actually a hugely competent fighter and is far superior to this mess.

This was a port that is best forgotten.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Reshelled (Xbox 360)

My first experience of the turtles being called “Ninja”; unfortunately this was the only  change to the greatest turtles game ever made I can support!

The graphics, while smooth and with a nice lighting engine lack any type of soul or character – these are not the turtles I know and love – these are a combination of classic Turtle comic look mixed with the newer Nickelodeon cartoon and it looks weird.

The sound isn’t much better, obviously the voice samples are superb and there are more varied sound effects but the music is absolutely terrible. Gone are the iconic and memorable  themes from the SNES version and in their place is a bastardised remix. It sounds terrible.

The game underneath is still solid and it’s nice playing 4 player local and online co-op, but the changes detract from the overall experience and as a result this is the weakest side-scroller featuring the turtles that I have played.


There we have it, my own personal TMNT history in one blog post. They have had their ups and downs but I am super stoked for the new Platinum game. Hopefully they can do it justice.

Do you agree/disagree with my scores?

Whats your favourite TMNT game?

Is it here or have I missed it here?

Why not give it a little review in the comments below?

14 thoughts on “TMNT: A Gaming Retrospective

  1. Good retrospective. I agree with you about Turtles in Time being the best of the bunch. It’s so much fun and the music is so good.

    One of my first YouTube videos was a comparison of TiT and Hyperstone Heist. Though they’re both fun, TiT definitely won.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s a shame that both TiT and Hyperstone Heist are both expensive nowadays- both are great. I got TMNT: Battle Nexus 2 solely to be able to unlock the original Arcade Game within.

    It’s strange, in Sweden we had Hero Turtles too- but they were known as Ninja Turtles as the American intro was used with them singing “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”.

    To me TiT is the best, with Hyperstone Heist being a close runner-up.

    Liked by 2 people

Join in the conversation...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s