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Retro Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II

Posted on April 9, 2016 by Scott Anderson

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Retro Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II
  • 7.5/10
    - 7.5/10

Game – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II
Release Date – Arcade 1989, NES 1990, XBLA 2007
Platform – NES, Xbox
Developer/Publisher – Konami/Konami, Ultra Games, Ubisoft, Image Works

With Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows invading theaters in the coming weeks, it seemed appropriate to revisit the second core installment of Nintendo’s excellent library of Turtles games. And may I just say, “Cowabunga!”

TMNT II started as an arcade game way back in 1989 before mercifully being brought to the NES a year later. To be upfront about my bias here, this game may just be in my Top 5 for the NES console. And not because it is a masterstroke of genius, but because the Ninja Turtles are radical! And you have the ability to go co-op on this bad boy! I mean, what could be better than that?! Ok, fanboy-ism aside, the game is pretty much what you would expect from an 80’s arcade offering.

TMNT2The game kicks off with the dastardly Shredder kidnapping everyone’s favorite news reporter, April O’Neil. He also nabs our heroes’ sensei Splinter along the way, but let’s be honest, Shredder could’ve sneezed on our pizza and that would’ve been enough to give chase. You then choose one of the four bodacious bros to take on the game. Leonardo is your typical well-rounded character with average reach and agility. Raphael and Michelangelo have shorter reach with their weapons but are a bit quicker, while Donatello’s bo staff gives him the longest range at the cost of overall speed.

The gameplay feels just like you would expect from a title ported from the arcade. Hitboxes on characters vary wildly at times and in-game logic seems a bit off-base. It’s hard for me to believe that Leonardo’s dive kick would be thwarted by a mere right jab from a Foot Soldier, but maybe I’m not giving the Foot enough credit. I will say, if the Turtles aren’t your thing, then you may find combat quickly falling under the repetitive category. After all, it is screen after screen of Foot Soldiers standing in your way with little to distinguish them aside from the weapons they brandish.

Level design is a great mix, with environmental hazards playing a prominent role. You can use some of these to your advantage though, as parking cones, exploding barrels and fire hydrants can all be attacked to cause damage to any enemies in their immediate vicinity.
TMNT2Boss fights seem to offset some of the difficulty created from your basic encounters though, as all but Shredder can be defeated with simple patience and a dive kick to the back right shoulder of your foe. Expect to run across series favorites Bebop and Rocksteady, Baxter Stockman and Krang along the way.

Patience really is the key with this, and just about any other arcade game. Given that there are rarely more than three enemies on the screen at once, it would do you good to apply stick-and-move tactics a la Muhammad Ali. While you certainly aren’t up against any Joe Fraziers in this game, you can quickly be overwhelmed if you attempt to go blow-for-blow with the hundreds of adversaries you will cross.

The soundtrack to the game is spectacular and evokes just the right amount of nostalgia to go along with its upbeat and energetic sound. It’s a shame Vanilla Ice’s Ninja Rap wasn’t released until 1991.

If you have the ability, a trip down memory lane with these adolescent amphibians is highly recommended.

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