It's a good time to be a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Even though the quartet debuted back in the late 80's, it hasn't lost any ounce of its popularity. Nickelodeon's animated TV series is about to head into a second season, Michael Bay's CG-animated film is due for release next year, and Activision has a couple of Turtle-related games in the pipeline, including Out of the Shadows, debuting later this summer.
The Ninja Turtles have starred in a lot of video games over the years and while a few of them are best left forgotten, there are some gems here that are just as good as a slice of pepperoni pizza. Join us as we travel back in time and look at their best games.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game (Arcade, NES, Xbox Live)
In 1989, Konami created an arcade tour-de-force with the Turtles' first arcade game, featuring four player simultaneous action – one player for each Turtle -- and various stages of enemies straight from the TV show, including Bebop, Rocksteady, Krang and, waiting in the final stage, Shredder. The game became an instant success for the company, prompting it to release a home version for the NES later that year. It was a decent port at the time, but only came with two player support and graphic limitations. An even better one released in 2007 when TMNT: The Arcade Game debuted on Xbox Live Arcade for a reasonable price of 400 Microsoft points.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project (NES)
In 1992, Konami released the Manhattan Project, an entirely original arcade-style adventure where they battle against the evil Shredder who hijacked the city of Manhattan, shooting it several hundred feet into the sky (naturally). The gameplay is familiar to the arcade game, where two players battle against Foot soldiers and other enemies using each character's attacks and special moves, while keeping a close eye on their energy meter. If you're building a classic NES game library, it's worth adding.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles In Time (Arcade, SNES)
While NES players were able to enjoy Manhattan Project, SNES owners had their own reason to celebrate with a rock-solid port of the arcade game Turtles In Time. This time around, Shredder sent the group back in time to contend with various foes before eventually heading back to New York to face him in an evolved form. The arcade game is lots of fun – and supports four players – but additional content made the SNES version a must own, like the return of animal thugs Bebop and Rocksteady, a new boss encounter with Shredder where you throw Foot Clan soldiers into the screen, and additional pizza-collecting bonus stages. Ubisoft later ported the game to Xbox Live and PlayStation Network as TMNT: Turtles In Time Re-Shelled with enhanced 3D visuals.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist (Sega Genesis)
Though the Sega Genesis never got a port of Turtles In Time to call its own, Konami offered the next best thing in 1992 with The Hyperstone Heist. A "remix" of Turtles In Time that offered a new boss battle against Tatsu – from the live-action TMNT films – and a presentation that took advantage of Sega's hardware, the game ended up faring very well with its entertaining gameplay and two-player co-op action.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (SNES)
At a time when Capcom's Street Fighter II games and its various clones were creating a huge, thriving fighting community, Konami took advantage with a stellar Super Nintendo brawler all its own. Tournament Fighters features all four Turtles characters, as well as other combatants like Shredder and the comic book favorite Wingnut, fighting each other for money and glory. Featuring pinpoint controls and superb graphics, Tournament Fighters delivered better than players were expecting. Genesis and NES versions were also released at the time, but paled in comparison to the SNES version.
TMNT (Xbox 360, Wii, PlayStation 2)
When Ubisoft acquired the rights to the franchise in 2007 – tying in with the CG-animated film of the same name – it opted to make a more mainstream adventure, one with the fighting elements the Turtles had become known for, along with physical platforming similar to the company's Prince of Persia games. The end result, TMNT, turned out to be better-than-expected, thanks to solid controls and the ability to play as each of the Turtles throughout the game.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash-Up (PlayStation 2, Wii)
Last but certainly not least, Ubisoft delivered a pretty good Smash Bros. clone that featured various characters from the TMNT universe, including all four Turtles, vigilante Casey Jones, news reporter turned fighter April O'Neil, Master Splinter and several others from the CG-animated film, battling it out for supremacy through a series of rounds. The game sold fairly well, particularly on the PlayStation 2, since it didn't have a Smash Bros.-like game to call its own.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows releases on August 28th for Xbox Live Arcade, and September 24th for PlayStation Network.