#649 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game

                                    

                                                                               The Turtles show no respect for masonry.

 

                           

                                                               It was a cold, evil snowmen-with-rockets kind of evening.

 

PLAYERS: 1-2 simultaneous

PUBLISHER: Ultra Games

DEVELOPER: Konami

GENRE: Beat-em-up

RELEASE DATE: December 1990

 

TMNT II: The Arcade Game, otherwise known as, “What kids wanted all along.” While the original TMNT for the NES sold like gangbusters, one wondered why Konami didn’t just port the arcade game and call it a sweet money explosion of a day. All wrongs were righted by Christmas 1990, however, when TMNT II came to the NES, complete with two-player co-op, extended levels, and a seemingly endless supply of pith and vinegar.

 

TMNT II is your standard repetitive NES brawler, albeit coated in a half-shell of Turtle power. Defeat three Foot Soldiers of varying colors, walk forward a few steps, fight three more Foot Soldiers, repeat until you reach a boss or mini-boss. The Turtles have a weapon attack, a jump attack, and a special attack that takes off a piece of their life bar. Avoid the special attack because you’ll need all the life you can get. TMNT II is one of the hardest brawlers on the NES. Getting punched isn’t happenstance, it’s inevitable. Unless you repeatedly jump kick an enemy, you will not be able to give a hit without getting hit yourself. How can a Foot Soldier’s punch successfully power through a pair of katanas, nunchucks, sais or bo staffs? Only Konami knows. Three lives and three continues is a pathetic pittance, even with an additional player. And what’s with the point system? 200 points nets you an extra life, but doing so takes far too long. If you beat a Foot Soldier, you gain a point, which is fair. But if you beat Rocksteady, Baxter, or any of the bosses, you also get a point. The bosses should give you at least ten points or more.

 

 

Shredder and his half-formed doppelganger can kill you with one hit. It’s completely and totally fair. Remember: when that Game Over screen comes up, it’s your fault. Always.

 

Perhaps the definitive question for any co-op brawler: is TMNT II worth playing without a friend? That answer depends on if you enjoy defeating similar-looking enemies repeatedly ad nauseam. There are no power-ups (save for the all-too-rare pizza slice) and few interactive elements, other than the occasional exploding barrel or detachable sign post. With the exception of the snow level (newly added for the port), the environments feel indistinguishable from one another; if I never fight on a boring Manhattan street again, it will be too soon. The lone Turtle has his limits.

 

TMNT II placated fans’ desires, but twenty-some years later, the game isn’t as memorable as other co-op brawlers like Double Dragon II or River City Ransom. Its repetitious nature is lessened with a comrade fighting alongside you, but the game’s excruciating difficulty will test even the most patient of players. Indeed it’s the Turtles’ presence and their world that makes the game worth playing. Without Leo, Mike, Raph, and Don’s involvement (and really, what choice did they have?), TMNT II would have likely been forgotten.

 

One-player: C+

 

Two-player: B

 

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