We’ve made it! We are at the end of 1989. The Konami game we are talking about today- and the final in this long journey of a series- is a legend in the industry- the type of arcade game you would see quarters lined up on the bezel- making you wait to play… sometimes for hours. You know it. You love it. It’s the juggernaut that continues to this day- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, released in Japan as TMNT: Super Kame Ninja and in Europe as Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, is a 1989 beat ’em up arcade game released by Konami. It is based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise, including the first animated series that began airing two years earlier. In the game, up to four players control the titular Ninja Turtles, fighting through various levels to defeat the turtles’ enemies, including the Shredder, Krang and the Foot Clan. Released during a high point in popularity for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise, the arcade game was a worldwide hit, becoming the highest-grossing dedicated arcade game of 1990 in the United States and Konami’s highest-grossing arcade game. Versions for various home systems soon followed, including the Nintendo Entertainment System. A sequel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, was released in 1991.
When I went to work for Fun N’ Games in 1990- we had FOUR of these bad boys- back to back of each other in a square- that’s 16 separate coin slots in one arcade for the SAME GAME! That’s TURTLE POWER! And the artwork on the cab- the absolute pinnacle of the last nine years!
The player chooses from one of the four Ninja Turtles: Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael. Depending on the version of the game, the characters are either chosen via an in-game select screen or based on which coin slot the player placed their credit into. After Shredder kidnaps the Turtles’ friend April O’Neil and their mentor Splinter, they must give chase, save their comrades, and defeat the evil Shredder. Up to four players (two in some versions) can take control of any of the Turtles. Donatello has slower attacks but a longer range, Michelangelo and Raphael have faster attacks but a shorter range, and Leonardo is a well-rounded Turtle with average range and speed.
The eight-way joystick controls the movements of the Turtle, the jump button makes them jump and the attack button makes them hit in front of them using their weapon. The Turtles can also perform special moves, including throwing Foot soldiers overhead and performing a special attack by pressing the jump and attack buttons; Raphael rolls along the ground and finishes with a kick, while the other Turtles do a sweeping jump attack with their weapons. The Turtles can also spring off the wall in certain areas. Enemies can be defeated more quickly by slamming them into walls or solid objects. Many objects such as traffic cones, parking meters, fire hydrants and exploding oil drums can be hit or damaged with attacks in order to help defeat nearby enemies. In the attract mode, the game shows the first part of the cartoon opening, along with a portion of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song.
Most of the enemies the Turtles face are the Foot Soldiers, all color-coded to indicate their attack patterns and weapon of choices. Some enemies, such as the standard purple-clad Foot Soldiers and Roadkill Rodney robots, have the ability to restrain the Turtles’ mobility and drain their health, leaving only the player open to attack for other enemies. The bosses in the game include Rocksteady and Bebop (individually at first in that order, and later the two of them together), Baxter Stockman (in his human form), Granitor, General Traag, Krang, and Shredder himself.
Enough Jibber Jabber- let’s kick shell!
Ports and sequels were abound after the massive success of the TMNT arcade game.
In the last year, we had not one BUT TWO releases for modern systems!
Shredder’s Revenge was a true sequel to the first game’s storyline- adding more of the cartoon’s mythos and adding a ton of Easter eggs and extras! if you haven’t played this game- WHAT”S WRONG WITH YOU? get a copy today!
The Cowabunga Collection put all of the Konami titles in one cartridge- and added it’s own secrets and extras- including online play for some of the titles!
So- what did you think of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game? Did you ever defeat Shredder?
Wow! We just went through the first decade of games from one of the most prolific arcade game companies of the 1980s- that laid the foundation of the industry we love today. This is the biggest series of articles I have ever committed to in the almost 12 years of starting The Arcade Archives. I have to say I’m pretty proud of this. It is everything I hoped to accomplish doing it.
Now- we didn’t talk about every game from the decade- but I will continue the series in a smaller format to hit those I skipped over in a new series- Konami Nuggets!
So- from the bottom of my old arcade heart- thank you for going with me on this amazing journey through some of my all time favorite Konami arcade games. We’ll have to do this again next year… Another arcade company awaits!
Keep Playin Like It’s 1981.