Monday, November 28, 2011

NES MASTER: TMNT!!
I'll start this chapter in my quest to become
MOST ULTIMATE POTENTATE OF THE NINTENDO ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM™
 with this:


COVER
First clue this game sucks:
Four Raphaels on the cover.
Pretty much sums it. Developed by Konami (again?) and released in the US under their "Ultra Games" imprint in 1989, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is known for teaching 7-year-olds the art of controller whipping and swearing (courtesy of their older brothers' friends). Based on the television series of the same name, the game is a hybrid Beat 'Em Up / Adventure game, and like Bayou Billy before it, does neither particularly well.

Unlike the other titles of the Top Ten Hardest NES Games of All Time, I remember quite well playing TMNT... and hating it. Each Turtle has their signature weapon with pros and cons, but none have good hit detection. Also, once hit by a baddie, there is virtually no "recover time," meaning two baddies can bounce you like a volleyball until you (literally) shrivel and die. Fortunately, you can switch between Turtles at ANY TIME and Pizzas--health powerups--respawn once you exit a room and return. The key to survival, then, is to use Donatello (his Bo Staff has the most power and reach) never let a Turtle die, and once you find an easy slice of pizza, power everyone to full. EVERY TIME.




Rocksteady
...and Dumber.
MISSION 1:
Beebop
Dumb...
A training mission of sorts, Mission 1 is a short, straightforward affair. Go down one manhole and defeat Beebop, then follow another to a fortress and defeat Rocksteady. Beebop takes a few Bo staffs to the face and Rocksteady can (famously?) be killed from an upper ledge.

MISSION 2:
Stage 2
A seldom seen spectacle: the Stage 2 Win Screen.
Stage 2 is the most infamous level in TMNT, probably because everyone RageQuit here and never got any further. Apparently, while you were rescuing April O'Neil, the foot clan planted some bombs on a dam. Why the Corp. of Engineers can't handle this is beyond me. The swimming physics are wonky and the various impediments (electrified algae, electric bolts and the one-hit-death sea floor) are quite good at shitting on your parade. There's a two-minute fifteen-second time limit, but it isn't really an issue. Take your licks when they come, switch Turtles if one's life gets low and disarm the various bombs. I got it without dying on my second try with plenty of time (and health) to spare.

MISSION 3:
Turtle Wagon
Every 6-year-old's dream car.
April--Safe! Dam--gloriously un-blown up. Splinter--kidnapped. You'd think a ninja master could fight off a few Foot Soldiers, but whatever. Mission 3 has you poncing about the city in the Turtle Wagon(!), trying to save Splinter. This task requires two power-ups: Missiles for the Wagon and Tightropes to walk across building-tops. The Missiles (and easy Pizzas) are in the building you spawn by, so take multiple trips inside to power up and load on missiles.

Not Impossible Pizza
Not Impossible, Dorkly.
A quick note here on power-ups. Many drones drop alternate weapons (ninja stars, boomerangs, etc.) So on Pizza-hunting excursions, make sure to score weapons for each Turtle. Especially be certain to GET BOOMERANGS FOR DONATELLO. Boomerangs have power equal his Bo Staff, longer range, and are fungible as long as you catch the boomerangs you throw. This comes in very handy in the later stages. South from the start is the Scroll power-up (strongest weapon in the game) in a pair of buildings. It's not necessary, but it is very helpful. I'd collect one for Leonardo and Raphael.



Evil Turtle
HADOUKEN!
The southernmost pair of doors on your map contain a large Pizza and the required Tightropes, so much as you did with the first building, power up and collect a bunch of both. From there, curl around the south and west of the map, blow up a few barriers and you'll arrive at  a lone building. Going through the building (there's a full pizza at the end, so again, power up) leads you to the boss stage. Jump across a few rooftops to fight the boss: a Clone Turtle/Robot. A few hits from the Scroll turns the Turtle Clone into a Robot. A few more Scroll hits destroys the Robot, freeing Splinter.


MISSION 4:
This stage is some sort of airfield. Your goal is to navigate the numbered sewers from 1-18. Right off the bat is easy pizza, so, again, power up. The path here is forked and obfuscated, making this level a pain in the ass. Thankfully, each sewer is numbered, so you have SOME idea of where to go. If you're low on health, there's an easy pizza in sewer 11 (available via sewer 10) and at the end of sewer 12.

Giant MouserThe lead up to the Boss Room in sewer 17 includes some pain-in-the-ass moving spikes (made even nastier by the game's poor jump physics). To avoid instant death, simply stop at the precipice of each ledge to fall safely below. If you lose a Turtle, don't sweat it, you can retrive him in Mission 5 (and 6 for that matter). The end boss here is a Giant Mouser that shoots eye lasers and spits smaller mousers from its mouth. There's a safe spot directly under its jaw, so stand there and jam on up with the Bo Staff for an easy fight. From there you'll jump into the Turtle Blimp (I hadn't realized they even HAD a blimp) and fly off to the Foot Clan's secret base.

MISSION 5:
Technodrome
It looks like the Technodrome smoked
a few Krangs.
Much shorter than Mission 4, Mission 5 has you searching for the Technodrome. The wrinkle here is that it isn't in any set location, but spawns randomly in one of four locations. The building at the map's center holds a lost Turtle (if you've gotten killed at any point) and easy pizza, so again, power up. Also, the Northwest building holds more Scrolls and Pizza. Other than that, its pick a sewer and hope you chose right. Your reward for choosing correctly is a battle against (a rather stoned-looking) Technodrome.

Avoid its lightning, jump on the tread and Bo Staff its red eye. Not too difficult. If you want to preserve some health, have Raphael destroy the gun turrets first.
After it blows up, you jump inside and...

Run Away!MISSION 6:
Off to find the Shredder! This level would be easy excepting one thing: the jet-pack robots. They fly around shooting lasers which do major damage (Major Damage [salute]), so my advice hearkens back to Karate Kid and Top Gun: run the eff away! If you jump, they'll fly to the top of the screen and then you can safely run away. If you follow the ladders down (and east) you can rescue a fallen Turtle. Other than that, it's avoid avoid avoid. In Shredder's antechamber, jumping isn't possible. This would make the Flying Robots near impossible except for one thing: they fly away if you turn your back to them.
NES MASTER: CASTLEVANIA!!
apparently The Shredder wears old-timey longjohns.

Eventually, you'll reach the Shredder. His attack is one-hit-kill, but that's really not an issue as long as you have some throwing stars or Scrolls. Simply stand on one side of the room and pummel the Shredder with projectiles and he won't even get the chance to take a single shot. After a boss battle which can only be described as 'anticlimactic,' TMNT fans are treated to the ending they know so well: Splinter turns back into a human?! Then it's some credits and back to the title screen.




TMNT Ends
It's probably best not to ask questions.
CONCLUSIONS:
I don't think I'd use the word 'fun' in describing TMNT for NES. 'Interesting' or 'Barf-Inducing' perhaps, but not 'fun.' Everything in this game is a chore, a skill to be practiced and mastered like piano lessons. The awful jump physics and poor hit detection conspire to earn TMNT:
3 Controllers
NES MONSTER!I would have given Four Controllers of Impossibility if it wasn't for Fungible pizza, powerful B-weapons and boss fights that are beyond easy.

Next week brings the #4 Hardest NES Game of All Time, a ghoulish title considered by many to be the hardest of the bunch!




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