Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are just plain cool. Donít try to analyze how they came to be so popular as to warrant the production of a full length feature film trilogy, or why kids (including myself) watched the cartoons religiously every weekday after school. Using logic to explain the Ninja Turtlesí popularity will only leave you baffled, for the Turtles seem to defy logic at every turn. Why would four turtles love pizza as their number one food? How could a rat learn the art of Ninjitsu by mimicking his ownerís movements from a cage? Why the hell does the buxom April OíNeal always wear that horrendous banana yellow jumpsuit? None of these oddities seem to matter, as the Ninja Turtlesí intangible ëcool factorí overrides all.
No doubt it was only a matter of time before a videogame developer took advantage of the Turtlesí popularity, and Konami took the initiative by releasing the aptly named Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the Nintendo Entertainment system in 1989. The game was a solid effort, but entirely too difficult for younger players so Konami went back to the drawing board with TMNT 2: The Arcade Game. Based on the Ninja Turtles arcade game (duh), TMNT 2 ditched the top-down/side-scrolling gameplay of TMNT and switched entirely to the beat-ëem-up genre made famous by games like Double Dragon. So did Konami do a good job recreating the arcade versionís presentation on the limited NES hardware, and is the gameplay deep enough to warrant any significant amount of play time? Read onÖ
As mentioned earlier, the gameplay in TMNT 2 is that of a brawler, plain and simple. You start the game by choosing one of four turtles and then fight your way through multiple levels filled to the brim with angry Foot Soldiers. The A and B buttons are used for swinging your weapon and jumping, and flying jump kicks can be performed by pressing the attack button after getting airborne. There is an ëadvancedí (and I use that term very loosely here) attack that can be performed by pressing both the A and B buttons at nearly the exact same time that does double damage to all enemies, but this is much slower than your normal attack. Simple even by side-scrolling brawler standards, the controls can be mastered in a matter of minutes, and youíll be kicking some serious Foot Clan booty before you can say ìCowabunga!î
Even though the gameplay in the game is extremely basic, fighting through the seemingly endless waves of enemies still remains entertaining due to the wide variety of Foot Soldier types. Disgruntled members of the Foot Clan will bring everything from machine guns to mallets in their effort to thwart you, and each of the various types of baddies requires a slightly different technique to defeat effectively. Some Foot Soldiers, like the white katana wielding versions, are good at countering your jump kicks, while others, like the orange-garbed boomerang throwers, are well adept at keeping you at a distance. Even beyond the various Foot Clan types, other enemies in the game (such as magical tigers, robotic spiders, mousers, etc) add even more variety to the gameplay.
Of course, no brawler would be complete without big, bad bosses at the end of each level, and TMNT 2 doesnít disappoint here. As you proceed through the game youíll find yourself matched up against the likes of Bebop, Rocksteady, Baxter Stockman, Krang and eventually with the Shredder himself. These boss battles are quite fun, even if they do consist of lots of button mashing or basic AI patterns that must be memorized.
Just like with the arcade version, playing with a friend is where the fun really lies. Watching each otherís back while battling through the Foot Clan-filled levels is a blast, and adds some much needed depth to the gameís otherwise questionable longevity. Unfortunately, due to the lack of four-player simultaneous support with the NES console, the game can only be played with two players cooperatively (unlike up to four players in the arcade version). This is regrettable, but one canít really blame Konami, as this is just a hardware limitation of the NES system.
TMNT 2 features some of the most vibrant, detailed and smooth visuals on the NES. The Turtles are nice, large sprites that animate very well. They have much more personality here than they ever did in the original TMNT. Now each turtle has individual attack animations for his own unique weapon and is much easier to distinguish from his amphibious counterparts. The Foot Soldiers are drawn and animated just as well as the Turtles, but do get repetitive due to the excessive palette swapping. Boss characters feature an even greater amount of detail because of their larger size, and look quite close to their cartoon versions. Konami truly squeezed everything they could out of the limited NES hardware and created one of the best-looking games on the system.
The backgrounds in TMNT 2 are also colorful and varied, adding much to the gameís already superior visual presentation. Locations like Aprilís burning apartment, the streets of NYC, subterranean sewers and Technodome all look, while not nearly as good as they did in the arcade game, simply fabulous. There is even a NES only level which takes place in a dojo that is just as detailed and well drawn as the arcade-port stages. Little details such as cars driving out from the background and Foot Clan members throwing down billboards help give the levels some spice and really make you feel like you are fighting through an interactive environment.
The audio in TMNT 2 is stellar. The background tunes are various upbeat remixes of the TMNT theme and keep your foot tapping all the way to the final confrontation with Shredder. The sound effects are some of the best on the NES and do a wonderful job of recreating the arcade versionís audio. Konami really upped the ante with the gameís aural presentation when compared to the original TMNT.
If you are a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (and honestlyÖ who isnít a fan?) then I highly recommend adding TMNT 2 to your NES collection. The gameplay may be a bit shallow, but it still manages to be an extremely fun gaming experience, especially if played with a friend. If youíre a fan of the arcade game, then youíll most likely be pleasantly surprised at the accuracy of this port despite the limitations of the NES hardware. What it boils down to is this game is definitely one worth owning, so get down to your local used game dealer and pick up a copy.