When the news leaked back in January that Activision would be collaborating on a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video game, the gaming world clenched its collective arse cheeks in anticipation. Fans were cautious. After all, recent offerings in the TMNT video game franchise had proved mediocre at best so why would this latest game be any different?
Fans were right to feel this way. Mutants in Manhattan bombed.
It hasn’t always been like this though. When the Turtles first appeared as video game stars in 1987, they were hailed as heroes of a stale genre and many years of success followed. To celebrate this – and all things green and ninja (both good and bad) – HorrorGeekLife takes a look back at the last 30 years of TMNT video games, with just a few omissions.
So grab a slice of your favourite pizza, get comfy in your favourite spot at your secret sewer lair and enjoy.
1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Developed by Konami under the ghost company Ultra Software Corporation, the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video game remains one of the best in the franchise. Sure, it was stupidly hard in places, and, even reduced certain writers to tears when they had to start the level over again (and again), but, the graphics were great for the time and the action was nonstop. Konami’s decision to use different games mechanics was also incredibly wise as this set the game apart from all other action platformers of the time.
2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Like many popular coin-op games of the time, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a side scrolling beat-em-up, that allowed players to utilise all four Turtles at once in a combined effort to kick some Foot Soldier ass. Once each wave of useless hooded minions was defeated, the player would face off against an end of level bad guy until they came face to face with the cheese grater fisted Shredder.
It was later ported to the Nintendo as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Arcade Game and has been a rare gem among collectors ever since.
3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: World Tour
Have you ever longed for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles interactive colouring book? You have? Well your dreams are about to come true!
4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan
In 1990, the Ninja Turtles found themselves ported to the Game Boy for the first time in a formulaic, but fun, adventure.
Smokin’ hot, jumpsuit-wearing April ‘oh mama’ O’Neil has been captured (again) and it’s up to her four mutant buddies to save her. As usual, an army of Foot Soldiers awaits, as do Bebop and Rocksteady and the lesser known Roadkill Rodney Robots, who really aren’t as cool as the name would suggest.
5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Manhattan Missions
The Konami years rolled on with this often overlooked entry that was based on the original Mirage comics, rather than the kid friendly TV series.
The comic book influence was clear right away as the game consisted of much more mature game play and a darker tone. There are also several nods to the 1990 movie, with Shredder showing up in his red outfit and Casey Jones coming to the aid of the four titular characters.
6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time
Following the success of the original TMNT arcade game, it was inevitable that the series would make its way back to the arcades and thus Turtles in Time was born.
The plot – easily the most bonkers to date – kicks off when soft and squishy alien overlord Krang pinches the Statue of Liberty. When the Turtles head out to get it back (how they plan to move it is still a mystery), they are zapped into a portal by Shredder which sends them both back and forward in time to face off against an array of evil doers. Tokka and Rahzar from the second TMNT movie also appear.
Turtles in Time – or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV as it came to be known when it was ported on to the Super Nintendo – is arguable the greatest TMNT game ever made. Considering it was released 25 years ago, this is a real testament to Konami as a developer.
7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Back from the Sewers
The Game Boy entries in the TMNT franchise continued to impress with this sequel to The Fall of the Foot Clan.
Sure the plot was the same old same old, but unlike many games of its type, Back from the Sewers let players move their favourite Turtles around the screen in any and all directions, not just from side to side. I’m not kidding when I tell you that in 1991 that was pretty revolutionary.
8. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project
Even the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles need a vacation. So, after growing tired of fighting crime they head off to Florida for a few weeks of sun and swamps. The peace is shattered though when April is kidnapped, yet again, to be used as a pawn in Shredder’s latest plot. Because kidnapping April has worked out so well for him in all the previous games. Not.
Konami were really hitting their stride by this point, and The Manhattan Project – the companies ninth video game – was met with great reviews. Some insiders even called it the best game of 1992, which is pretty impressive when you think that Mortal Kombat and Mario Kart both made their debut that same year.
9. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist
The Hyperstone Heist is highly regarded among retro game lovers, but for some it was Konami’s first disappointing Ninja Turtles video game. Not because it sucked – it was anything but bad – but because it was pretty much a rehash of Turtles in Time for SEGA users.
Everything from the game play to the soundtrack was replicated and then tweaked. Perhaps if there had been a bigger gap between the two games, the similarities wouldn’t have been quite so noticeable. However, having two games that were so alike hit the shelves in such a short time frame, even on different console types, made it look like perhaps the tank was starting to run dry for Konami.
10. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Radical Rescue
I always wondered how Shredder managed to take over the Turtles’ television so much. I mean, if he wanted his plan to be secret this surely wasn’t the best way, taking over a TV station where anyone could be privy to his fiendish plot. Be that as it may, he uses this method to announce his latest plan time and time again, and Radical Rescue is no exception.
In this final Game Boy outing, Michelangelo must go it alone after his brothers and sensei are kidnapped and imprisoned at an undisclosed location. Instead of simply murdering them, Shredder sets up a series of traps and trials that Michelangelo must defeat in order to free his brothers and squash the Foot once and for all, or until their next attempt at world domination. Whichever is sooner.
11. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters
With the massive success of Street Fighter II, it was inevitable that other franchises would make use of the games format in the hope of achieving the same level of commercial recognition. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was no exception.
Although very good, Tournament Fighters only proved that there really wasn’t anything quite like Street Fighter.
12. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
A decade after the last console based Ninja Turtles game, came this, Konami’s first attempt to adapt the then new television series. The series was darker and less colourful than the previous show and the games followed suit.
Originally released on the Game Boy Advance and then PlayStation 2, Game Cube and Xbox the game loosely follows the events of season 1 of the TV series and features fun but repetitive game play that players had seen a hundred times before.
13. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Battle Nexus
There is very little difference between this and the previous Konami release. However, this time the game supported up to 4 players at once and had the arcade game as an unlockable extra, which made it worth the price alone.
14. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Mutant Nightmare
The second incarnation of the TV series was always a personal favourite of mine. It was darker than the original and much closer to the comics in tone and story. Mutant Nightmare was the closest Konami got to adapting the comics, and was the first TMNT game to land a E10+ rating, which meant little Jimmy couldn’t buy this unless he convinced his parents to buy it for him – or had a local down and out to pick it up for him in exchange for beer. Don’t ask how Jimmy got his hands on the beer though. It’s a long story.
15. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Melee
More of a spin-off than a game in itself, Mutant Melee was a rehash of the Tournament Fighter style but added a ‘capture the flag’ mode that proved popular among the twelve people who bought it.
TMNT was little more than a cash in on the drastically underwhelming CGI movie from the same year. This was also the first game to make it onto the Wii console, as well as the first full game that wasn’t developed by Konami, and boy can you tell?!
17. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash Up
The mediocre reign of Ubisoft continued with this attempt to shoehorn the TMNT franchise into a Super Smash Bros game. Although the game was fun enough, it only made us want to revisit Super Smash Bros instead.
18. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Arcade Attack
Ubisoft bowed out with this homage to the classic coin-op games. It had the look but none of the charm and was met with largely unfavorable reviews.
In other words, this game was stinkier than The Foot.
19. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
Red Fly, 2013
With Ubisoft out of the picture, it was up to Red Fly Studio to breathe new life into the TMNT franchise. Unfortunately, the breath it exhaled must have been pretty rank – like garlic and anchovy flavour – because the Xbox Live exclusive game was a monumental flop.
The game play consisted largely of a co-op mode that didn’t work. I managed about 20 minutes playing with a friend before the servers went into melt down and decided never to work again. Rumors that they’re up and running in Dimension X have never been confirmed.
20. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
There’s no denying the latest TMNT animated series is all kinds of awesome. Sure, I had my reservations at first but after one season I was hooked, just like I had been 30 years earlier – yes I’m old, what of it?
Sadly, this did not translate to the gaming world as the curse of the post-Konami years continued. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2013 was voted one of the worst games in the series, with horrible graphics and a seen it all before story mode.
This would later be bundled together with Activision’s second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game Danger of the Ooze (2014).
21. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Training Lair
Float Studios, 2014
Holy shit! Are you telling me I can use my Kinect to transport myself into the world of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and train myself in the ways of the ninja? This is the single greatest day of my life! I can’t wait to download it at a considerable cost to myself.
Oh wait. The moves aren’t synchronised to my actual body movements. I look ridiculous. There’s no interactive pizza for me to eat. Being a Turtle sucks.
So there you have it, one definitive list of every TMNT video game that ever crawled from the sewers shouting “Cowabunga,” waving a pair of nunchucks around their heads. Which do you remember? Which was your favourite? How terrible did you look in the training environment? Let us know in the comments section or else we may just send Bebop and Rocksteady round to your house to teach you some manners.