Console: NES 

Company: Ultra Games 

Release Date: February 1991 

Genre: Action 

Number of Players: 1 or 2 

Save Feature? No

Although I really enjoyed the first Turtles game, I felt that The Arcade Game improved upon it in almost every area. If nothing else, the second Turtles classic featured the two-player option that was so sorely missing from the original game. With its non-stop action and plethora of characters from Turtles fame, TMNT 2 was a feast for Turtles fans!

Overview: If you grew up during the eighties, you simply have to recall the immense popularity of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The comic books, the cartoons, the movie trilogy, cute plush dolls, trading cards...you get the picture. Basically, you could scribble a picture of Donatello on a piece of paper and it would automatically increase in value ten fold. Okay, I made that last one up but as you can see, the Turtles were white-hot during this time!

I knew at this point that it was only a matter of time before the lean green machine found their way onto the equally hot NES. And when you mix fire with fire; well, you've got yourself one heck of a combination! I remember conversations I would have with friends about this and all of us seemed to have the same question in mind. Just how successful would the Turtles be in the video game arena...should they make it that far? Could they become more popular than video game legends of the day such as Mega Man, Link, or even the icon of the NES himself, Mario? It was an intriguing debate because the Turtles were truly on fire during this time.

Although the aforementioned heroes probably outlasted the Turtles in the end, one thing is for certain: The Turtles craze was simply a blast while it lasted. And the games didn't disappoint either. Although the first Turtles game didn't include that two-player option that all of us craved, I still thought that it was an excellent game. I still don't see how it won the 1989 Nester Award for Best Overall Game (how Mega Man 2 didn't win that award is beyond me) but there was something about it that I really liked nonetheless.

Then along came The Arcade Game. If the TMNT series was popular before the Arcade Game, it literally had a cult following afterwards. I cannot begin to tell you how great this game was. Featuring graphics that brought the Turtles to life and a gaudy four-player option, this game was pretty much everything you could ever want and more! Playing through the game with three friends by your side was a feeling you could never forget. Not only that but almost every Pizza Hut restaurant in existence seemed to have The Arcade Game during this time (due to the fact that the Turtles' favorite food was Pizza I guess). I think that this was the first and only case where an arcade game truly affected a business. If you had the option of going to Pizza Hut or some other joint, The Arcade Game pretty much tipped the odds into the former's favor. Not only was the pizza top-notch but you could play The Arcade Game while you waited!

As you would expect, this game caused quite a stir in NES Nation. Everyone was eager to see this game ported (faithfully) to the NES. And it didn't take long because in the Winter of 1991, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game hit the shelves. Although it was released during the hottest time possible (note that Mega Man 3, Dr. Mario, and Castlevania III were all released during this time), sales still went through the roof!

Although it wasn't an exact replica of the Arcade Game (the NES was only an 8-bit console after all), I thought that Ultra Games/Konami did a pretty good job overall. The game included the two-player option that we all craved and the NES version even had two completely new levels to boot! Certain sacrifices had to be made (e.g. no four-player option) but I think that all of us were just thankful to have a new Turtles game to play.

Regarding the gameplay itself, The Arcade Game was somewhat similar to the beat 'em ups of the day (e.g. Double Dragon II, Final Fight) yet it had a totally different feel thanks to the presence of the Turtles. It had the typical 2-D isometric view (see pics) and the controls were pretty much your standard fanfare. You could jump kick, use a special move by pressing the A and B buttons in quick succession, or simply hack and slash. Granted, the gameplay lacked the complexity of Double Dragon 2 (where you had a whole arsenal of moves at your disposal) but still, it was strangely addictive. There was just enough meat to separate this game from the pack. I always thought it was cool that you could even interact with some of the background objects. It was simply hilarious nailing a fire hydrant and seeing water spray an unsuspecting foot soldier. Or better yet, allowing a foot soldier to throw a manhole cover and sending it back in his grill. There was even an area where you could "accidently" attack a girl skateboarding and you'd hear a scream! This totally stunned me as voices of any kind were very rare back then.


Graphics: Although they couldn't match up with the awe-inspiring visuals of the Arcade Game, the NES version dished up a hearty serving of impressive 8-bit graphics. I'll never forget that first stage with fire blazing in the foreground with foot soldiers crashing through windows and blowing doors open. As if that wasn't enough, there were even a few places where huge bowling balls would crash down with thunderous force! And this was just the first level! Heck, there were even Pizza Hut ads littered throughout the game! For an NES game, this attention to detail was awfully impressive.

Some of the other levels were quite memorable as well. The sewer area carried a cool aura about it with its dark, damp walls and mysterious music playing in the background. The snow stage was nicely done as well with the skyline in the background in addition to lots and lots of snow! The huge snowplows that would appear randomly were a nice touch as well. Believe it or not, I actually remember playing through this level with a friend on a snow day back then! Talk about a magical video game experience! The bosses were also quite cool-looking. They all looked very faithful to their cartoon counterparts.

Lastly, I thought that the animation was pretty good. There is some image brakeup when you have too many enemies on the screen but it's nothing all that distracting. Some of the foreground graphics (notably the fire in the first level) were incredible for an 8-bit game pak as well.

Music: Magical, rich with nostalgia, and just flat-out great are a few ways to describe the TMNT 2 soundtrack. It might not be the greatest stand-alone soundtrack ever but it fits the game like a glove. I felt that, like the first Turtles game before it, TMNT 2 featured a musical score that did an exceptional job of capturing the spirit of the series. It's hard to explain but once you play the game, you just feel like you're playing a Turtles game. There is a distinct feel about the game's music.

As I mentioned in the Graphics section, the Sewer stage has an outstanding track. It just created the perfect feel for one of the darker areas of the game. It's not eerie or anything; just nice to the ears and slightly mysterious. The Snow stage that follows also features some nice, nostalgic music. And of course, any Turtles game isn't complete without hearing a rendition of the main theme which is heard not once but twice in this game! And the game doesn't let up towards the end either as the final stage easily has one of the best tunes in the game. I loved the beat to the Credits theme as well.

I really liked some of the sound effects as well. The sound when you hit a boss just seems perfect for some reason. And hearing the aforementioned girl scream in that second stage; well, that's just priceless.

Play Control: If you want a game with simple controls that even a novice can learn within seconds, it's hard to beat TMNT 2. Just jump and slash baby! Seriously, anyone with a pulse should be able to master the controls in a matter of minutes. Like most of the great old school games, timing is everything in TMNT 2. Once you get that part of your game down, you'll be a force to be reckoned with.

Granted, the controls are very much on the simple side; probably even to a fault. A few additional moves like the cyclone kicks, knee bashes, and head butts found in Double Dragon II would have been a welcome addition to TMNT 2. As fun as TMNT 2 is, the gameplay can tend to get a bit stale due to the lack of additional moves. Still, I keep coming back to play this game from time to time so it must not be all bad eh?

Challenge: Although I have played this game enough times to memorize pretty much everything that's coming, it still tends to get my adrenaline going just about every time. There are enough difficult bosses (e.g. Bebop and the trifecta you have to battle in the final stage) and long stretches without pizza that require wit and strategy to succeed. Some foot soldiers can be nailed with your special move every time while jump-kicking others (like the ones holding gargatuan-sized missiles) would be highly recommended. And the strategies for beating the many bosses found in the game differ just enough to keep things interesting (although simple jump kicks should floor just about all of them).

In terms of replay value, it is definitely the enjoyable gameplay that will keep you coming back as there are virtually no secrets to be found in the game. The two-player option definitely saved this game in that aspect.

Storyline: With its amazing graphics and ultra-fun two-player mode, the game's story truly is an afterthought. The first time I ever fired up TMNT 2, I don't think I even knew what the heck was going on! I was just like "Hmm...we're going into a building that's on fire to fight a whole army of foot soldiers...cool!!"

Anyway, the game really does have a story which begins with the Turtles rushing into a burning building to save the reporter, April O'Neil (who happens to be trapped inside...darn it all!) All seems well until a whole slew of foot soldiers, roadkill rodneys (little robots with a "shocking" personality), and even economy-sized bowling balls get into the act. All seems well when the team in green blow Rocksteady away at the conclusion of Scene 1. Unfortunately, Shredder (the Turtles' arch-enemy) swoops in and whisks April away before you can say "Hold the anchovies" and the battle is offically underway.

The rest of the game basically involves you trying to track down Shredder while fighting his army of foot soldiers. Other characters from TMNT fame such as Bebop (snort...Toytles!), Baxter Stockman, and a whole host of rock soldiers from Dimension X (along with Krang of course) stand in your way as well. And then there's the strange weather in New York (an artificial winter caused by Tora's weather-controlling device) to consider. And when Master Splinter gets kidnapped (or is that "ratnapped?"), you know that the Turtles are going to really start kicking some serious shell.

I suppose that overall, the story isn't too shabby. It didn't have that fresh new feel or intrigue found in the surprisingly good story of the first Turtles game but it wasn't all that bad either.

Funfactor: Simply put, this game must be played with a second player if you desire to truly soak in the whole TMNT 2 experience. With two players, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Arcade Game is one of the more enjoyable games for the NES. There is just enough variety, nostalgia, and even humor to keep you coming back regularly for another go at Shredder and company.

Negatives: As fond as I am of this game, I'll be the first to tell you that the gameplay definitely leans too far on the simplistic side. Although I prefer TMNT 2 over Double Dragon II, DD2 featured so many more moves than The Arcade Game! Just one or two new abilities for the Turtles would have been a vast improvement. As a result, the gameplay does tend to grow stale much sooner than it should.


Ratings: Graphics: 4.5 Music: 4.5 Play Control: 4.0 Challenge: 4.2 Storyline: 3.8 Funfactor: 4.5 Overall Score: 25.5 out of 30.0 Overall Rating: Bronze Bravo


Last Updated: January 23, 2006
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