Day Three: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were everywhere at the end of the 80s. They were radical. Konami saw this, licensed this, and produced the best tie-in game of the era.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game was, more or less, a simplistic beat-em-up. The controls were simple and the game wasn’t exceedingly deep, but what set it apart were the production values (I remember being wowed by the graphics and animations!) and the four-player simultaneous co-op. The fact that you could play the game with three of your friends created an exciting dynamic. One that ate a lot of quarters.

It’s a shame that multiplayer co-op arcade games never caught on too much after that. A couple years after TMNT came out the Street Fighter II craze hit and everything focused on direct combat — or Kombat. Player versus player. Mono a mono. There was no room for teamwork, and the world became a colder place because of it.

The TMNT game engine was reused for the inevitable sequels and for another hot license: The Simpsons. The Simpsons arcade game was grand, and it still is the greatest Simpsons related arcade game ever. But, despite the “coolness” (it was the early 90s after all — “radical” wasn’t it anymore), it was the same game with a different skin. The original TMNT was the one that counted.

Of course, there was NES game too… but, for some odd reason, it was completely different. Still a very good game[1] on its own right — possibly deserving its own day — but playing on your own couldn’t compare to the glory of four-play. Hmm. Regardless, the arcade game was later ported to the NES as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game. A commendable port, I might add, but it could never compare to the coin-op.

1 – With a very frustrating water level.

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