The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) games have long held a place of honor in the beat ‘em up genre. Their fresh, fast-paced gameplay, coupled with satisfying enemies to thrash across every stage, and some awesome, fulfilling boss fights make for a memorable experience that stands the test of time. Furthermore, the first installment of this game spawned what is arguably one of the best games in the genre: Turtles in Time. The first TMNT was developed in 1989 by Konami and is based on the animated cartoon series of the same name. The game was globally acclaimed and received ports on both the Atari ST, as well as the Nintendo Entertainment System under the name Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game. With Raw Thrills putting the finishing touches on a return to both the Ninja Turtles franchise as well as the beat ‘em up genre with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, let’s take a trip back down memory lane with this episode of Getting Good and covering the original Konami release from 1989.
As you would expect, players get to choose from one of the four awesome reptiles: Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael as they try and save reporter April O’Neil from the clutches of the evil Shredder and his goon squad, The Foot Clan.
In the first part of this article, we’ll briefly go over the controls, and the enemies you’ll face throughout the game, as well as walk you through the first two stages so that you can get started on the right foot.
Controls & Moves
The turtles are fairly straightforward to control. Compared to other beat em’ ups, this game has few moves to perform. As with most games, the stick is used to move either left, right, up or down. meanwhile, the A button is used for jumping, while the B is used for attacking. If pressing both buttons at the same time, the turtles can unleash a strong special attack that has a larger recovery time than standard attacks. Compared to other games in the genre, the special attack consumes no resources of any kind and can be used indefinitely, though it will leave the turtle vulnerable for a small window of time after landing the hit, so it must be used with caution. If attacking a standard enemy at close range, the turtles may sometimes perform throws which instantly kill any type of small enemies, including foot soldiers. The speed and frequency of these throws are determined by the weapon of the turtle: while Michelangelo has the hardest time making throws due to the small size of his nunchakus, Donatello is the one that performs the most frequent and lethal throws, due to the length of his bo staff.
There is some variety in the enemies that this game throws at you. In this section, you’ll find a brief overview of the baddies (bosses not included) that you’ll go up against throughout the game.
- Foot Soldiers: The henchmen of the Foot Clan come in many colors, each with their particularities.
- Purple: The most common foot soldiers are the purple kind, which only attack by punching, and by throwing shurikens. They have low health but can grab the player if approaching them from behind, which will slowly drain their health, and leave them open to attacks by other soldiers.
- Blue: These wield knives and like to sneak and stab the player from behind. At mid-distance, they will chuck their knives at the player, which travel faster than shurikens, and deal more damage.
- White: These soldiers are sturdy, and can take a few hits before collapsing. They also counter-attack after receiving two hits, so a good strategy is to land a pair of punches, followed by a step back to avoid the counter-attack; rinse and repeat until the soldier dies. Keep in mind that, if this enemy jumps, he will dive diagonally down towards the player in an attempt to impale him. This move must be dodged at all costs, or risk suffering severe damage.
- Red: The gun wielders. These hit hard, and have long range thanks to their automatic weapons. Gun wielders must be approached fast in order to prevent them from shooting their weapons. Keep in mind, though, that they will hit the player with the butt of their weapons if not dealt with quickly.
- Yellow: These soldiers wield boomerangs, which cause significant damage at short range. There’s no need to worry about these enemies if they’re on the other side of the screen since their weapons won’t reach the player. At short range, however, they must be dealt with swiftly.
- Light Blue: Exclusive to the Central Park stages. These childish soldiers will chuck snowballs at the players, which do the same damage as the knives flung by blue soldiers. Approach with care.
- Dynamite Dudes: As their name implies, these soldiers attack by flinging balls of dynamite across the screen. These explosives cover a wide area when detonating, so if you’re near when they go off, you’ll get hit. If there are 2 or 3 of these at any given time, you’ll likely lose some health.
- Roadkill Rodney: These threatening enemies will likely take some health away when you first encounter them. However, their great weakness if that they can’t leave the screen, so if you combo and knock them out of the screen, they’ll blow up, granting you an easy kill.
- Mouser: These small bipedal robots attack by clinging to your hands, and slowly biting your life away. They’re frail and can be destroyed in one hit.
- Highway Foes: These enemies are exclusive to stage 4, which is one of the most uneventful in the game. However, that’s not to say that these guys won’t take a life or two if you’re not careful:
- Spear Carriers: These enemies chuck their spears from halfway across the screen. Be careful, and dispatch them quickly to avoid losing health.
- Bomb Jack: These guys hold bombs over their head that are dropped if killed before throwing them. Be sure to let them throw their bombs before you deal with them, or else you risk losing health when they drop the explosive upon being destroyed.
- Biker: These spin around the screen, popping wheelies. Be careful they’re not doing a wheelie when you deal with them, or they may hit you with their front tires.
- Footmobiles: These vehicles can be avoided either by jumping over them or sidestepping their charges. The gold variety comes with a two-bike escort, so deal with these motorcyclists before going for the car.
- Thunderbird: The choppers fly across the screen, attacking the player. They can be easily defeated with a series of jump kicks, but can also severely weaken the player if not dealt with promptly.
- Flipper: These egg-like things fall from the ceiling, and hatch into unsightly dog-like cyborgs, which can be defeated with a single special attack.
- Mosquitoes: These flying abominations are just as dangerous as real life mosquitoes, but without the deadly disease they can transmit, which makes them as lethal as a box of kittens. A couple of jump kicks will deal with them.
- Machine Guns: Automated defense systems that fire a rapid stream of bullets. They can only fire in one direction, though, so if you can get behind them, they’re harmless.
Most stages of this game consist of, in true beat em’ up fashion, walking from left to right and dispatching any and every enemy that approaches the player. In this first part, we’ll go over the first two stages of this awesome game, so that you know how to deal with everything the game throws at you.
Stage 1: Burning Skyscraper
This stage starts by pitting the player several members of the Foot Clan inside of a burning apartment building. As the player traverses the burning structure, he will be assaulted by more foot soldiers, including those of the purple, blue, and white variety. At the end of the first hallway, the player will come to a series of stairways. Be careful here, as there will be giant boulders rolling down the stairs, which can easily flatten and knockback unsuspecting players. At the end of the stairways, you’ll come up to another hallway in which you’ll need to deal with two Roadkill Rodneys. Upon defeating these two enemies, you’ll gain access to April O’ Neil’s apartment, in which the player will need to deal with several more foot clan members, including those of the lethal, orange variety, as well as of the white, katana-wielding variety.
Upon dealing with these grunts, the first boss, Rocksteady, will come crashing through the floor and engage the player in combat.
This first boss is fairly straightforward. He’ll attack you with his machine gun in all directions, even the air. When he puts away his firearm, he’ll approach the player and kick him. Other than that, there’s not much else to this boss. What you’ll want to do is perform diagonal kicks to Rocksteady’s shins, and avoid the counterattack by jumping away. Eventually, he’ll succumb to your little kicks, marking the end of the first stage.
Stage 2: Streets of New York
Upon exiting the burning apartment, and witnessing Shredder once again kidnapping the rescued April O’ Neil, the turtles chase him down to an abandoned New York street. Luckily, most of the enemies in this stage consist of the same foot soldiers of the previous level, which means that it’s not too difficult. However, be careful of the Dynamite Dudes, which appear at some point into the level. Their explosives cover a wide area of effect, so either steers clear of their projectiles or take them out before they have a chance to throw a bomb. On the terrace after the first group of bombers, you’ll find a slice of pizza, which is the only type of powerup in the game, and which completely recovers the player’s health. Use it wisely.
The player will eventually come to a vertical section, where groups of enemies will pour into the screen in droves, which will likely cause the player to lose some health. However, if approaching the situation with calm and patience, health loss can be minimized in anticipation of the upcoming boss fight.
The boss of this stage is Bebop, Rocksteady’s brother, and partner-in-crime. Luckily, his attack pattern is not too different from the previous boss, except that Bebop tends to charge a bit more often. The same strategy that worked on Rocksteady is also valid for his brother; try to kick diagonally into the boss’ shins. If he doesn’t charge after getting hit, do another kick. Be careful not to hit his gun, instead of his legs, because you might bounce off and leave yourself open to attack. Also, don’t let yourself get pinned onto the corner with the car; if you’re smashed into the wall, you will slide down slowly, which will leave you exposed to further attacks as soon as you touch the ground. Nevertheless, keep up the steady assault and Bebop will go down before long.
After defeating Bebop the turtles will descend into the sewer level of the game. However, this stage marks the end of this first part of the TMNT game. Next week, we’ll go through the remaining stages, and teach you all you need to know in order to take the fight to Shredder and rescue your kidnapped friends.
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