[[caption-width-right:349:Best enjoyed with pizza, of course.]]
->''"Anyone unfortunate enough to have a Nintendo device in the house will be familiar with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who star in one of the most insidiously addictive Nintendo games. The turtles live in the subways beneath Manhattan, where, exposed to radiation, they have grown into teenager-sized, intelligent creatures, and have absorbed such items from the culture as surfer jargon."'' -- '''Creator/RogerEbert'''

A side-scrolling {{platform game}} released in 1989 (1990 for the PAL region) for the UsefulNotes/NintendoEntertainmentSystem and 1991 for computers. As you could tell by the title, it was a video game adaptation of ''Franchise/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles'' which had become a cash cow franchise towards the end of TheEighties thanks to the hit [[WesternAnimation/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles1987 cartoon]]. While it did borrow some elements from the cartoon, such as Master Splinter being a human-turned-rat and the villainous duo of Bebop and Rocksteady, the art style was heavily influenced by [[ComicBook/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtlesMirage the comic created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird]], [[AdaptationDisplacement which a lot of people don't know said cartoon was based on, even to this very day]]. Perhaps due to brand recognition, this game was one of the best selling NES titles published by a third-party company. It also has the distinction of being the fifth game reviewed by Creator/JamesRolfe's "WebVideo/TheAngryVideoGameNerd" character, then known as the Angry Nintendo Nerd.

The four eponymous characters--brothers Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael--are in hot pursuit of the Foot Clan, the most dangerous criminal empire New York has ever seen. Their babe-licious human friend, Channel 6 News field reporter April O'Neil, had just been kidnapped by the Shredder, the deadly leader of the Foot. To give you an idea of how deadly he is, the instruction manual describes him as "a villain more vicious than an army of mind altered Creator/{{Bruce Lee}}s." [[CaptainObvious That's deadly]]. His plan? Brainwash April and train her in ninjitsu so she will become part of the Foot! The Turtles must save April, storm the Shredder's [[SupervillainLair Technodrome lair]], and steal his Life Transformer Gun, which can turn their beloved Master Splinter back to his original human form of Hamato Yoshi.

There are six levels total, and gameplay is divided into two modes: initially, you start the level in a top-down perspective [[TheOverworld hub world]], and you walk your way to a platforming segment. Progression to the next level is gained by beating each platforming segment.

Although only a single player game, you can switch between the Turtles on the fly at the pause screen. Each turtle is essentially a life, meaning you have four lives. When the vitality gauge of a turtle is completely depleted, he is "captured." When all four are captured, it's GameOver, and you are only given a chance to continue twice. It can get very painful when you are down to only Raph and Mikey, as Donatello's bo staff has the best range, while Raph and Mikey's weapons, the Sai and Nunchakus repsectively, have the worst. Still, you are given a few chances to rescue captured turtles.

The most infamous aspect of the game is its difficulty, ultimately making it a divisive affair; you either love it because it's NintendoHard, or hate it because it's NintendoHard.

Released a little later in '89 was [[VideoGame/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtlesTheArcadeGame the arcade game]], which was nowhere near as polarizing and is almost unanimously considered a classic in the BeatEmUp genre. Thanks to the arcade game's success, most games based on the Ninja Turtles henceforth would be {{beat em up}}s as well, although some, such as a couple of the GameBoy titles, would be platformers like this puppy.

LP'ed [[http://lparchive.org/LetsPlay/TMNT/ here]] by LetsPlay/ProtonJon, of ''VideoGame/KaizoMarioWorld'' [=LPing=] fame, in honor of the game's then-recent re-release on UsefulNotes/{{Virtual Console}} (speaking of the VC release, it's 600 Wii points, instead of the usual 500 for an NES game, due to licensing issues; and said licensing expired, causing the game to be de-listed, although previous buyers can still re-download it).
!! This game provides examples of:
* AbsurdlySpaciousSewer
* AllThereInTheManual: It's only in the instruction book that it's mentioned that the Turtles are after Shredder's Life Transformer gun; as a result, those who don't have the manual are of course confused by [[spoiler:Splinter turning human]] at the end of the game.
* BeefGate: If you try walking around the building from the starting area, a roller (OneHitKO) will approach as an attempt to guide you into the sewer. However, you can walk around it as it approaches by keeping to the left or simply hit it with your weapon.
* BigDamPlot: Area 2, which has you trying to stop the Foot Clan from blowing up a dam.
* CompletelyDifferentTitle: The Famicom version's title, ''Geki Kame Ninja Den'', roughly translates "Fierce Turtle Ninja Legend". This was before the Japanese dubs of the cartoons and films were made, since the later games kept the original American moniker in Japan.
* DifficultySpike: Area 3, and it only gets [[SerialEscalation worse from there]].
* DownTheDrain: Area 2.
* DubText: ''Geki Kame Ninja Den'' turned April into Splinter's daughter.
* EternalEngine: The Technodrome.
* GuideDangIt: Area 4's correct hatch sequence. Area 5 has the Technodrome, which is mentioned in depth below.
* HardLevelsEasyBosses: The further along in the game you get, the ''easier'' the bosses get. The final boss, Shredder, is considered the easiest boss because he has a very predictable movement pattern and takes knockback from any hit you do to him (a feature that no boss in the game possess).
* HighVoltageDeath: One of the most notoriously annoying levels in the game is an underwater level where you have to swim through obstacles that can zap the turtles with electricity if you don't time your movements right. There are many of them, they're hard to avoid, and they will kill you over time if you're not ''extremely'' careful with timing your movements.
* LuckBasedMission: In Area 5, the boss of the Area (The Technodrome) can be at the end of one of three caves. You have no way of knowing which one it'll be in short of trying each one and hoping it's there. Making this even worse is the fact that it's most likely (A 1 in 2 chance) to be at the end of the furthest, most difficult cave.
* MarathonLevel: Areas 3 and 4.
** Also, the final area.
* TheMaze: The third (where you rescue [[spoiler:Splinter]]) and fourth (the Foot Clan air base) areas have a maze of some sort.
* NegativeContinuity: Though the villains are defeated and Splinter is turned back into a human, this has no effect on the story of subsequent games.
* NeverSayDie: The Turtles are always 'captured' upon losing all their health.
** Justified, in that you have a few chances to rescue captured turtles later, clearly still alive.
* NonStandardGameOver: If you fail to defuse the bombs in the underwater portion of Area 2, the bombs explode, causing an instant game over, regardless of how many turtles were remaining.
* NintendoHard: Level 2 is the infamous swimming stage. Level 3 is a maze to find Splinter (though once you have the missiles, you can go right to where he is if you know the way, obviously). Level 4 is a "choose your path" with different roads to take to get to the end and towards the end are instant kill traps like fire pits and sliding spike walls. Level 5 is full of tough enemies and has a randomly placed boss who is difficult to defeat, and level 6 is FULL of tough enemies. The jet pack-equipped laser troopers will make you tear your hair out. This game is TOUGH. But it is certainly NOT impossible.
* OddballInTheSeries: Overlapping with EarlyInstallmentWeirdness. All of its successors were {{Beat Em Up}}s that are held up as [[SugarWiki/NoProblemWithLicensedGames quality licensed games]]. This installment was a PlatformGame best remembered for being NintendoHard.
* OneHitKO: In addition to the rollers mentioned under BeefGate, there's a weapon called the Scroll Weapon which basically does this. Also, Shredder's gun will also kill you in 1 hit.
* PointOfNoContinues: Your game will be over with no more possiblity to continue if all four turtles are captured after continuing twice!
* SuperDrowningSkills and SuperNotDrowningSkills: The Turtles know how to swim in Level 2 but they suddenly lose that skill afterwards. Justified in the latter case as the currents are too strong to swim. If a turtle falls in the water, they aren't "captured". They're simply carried back to the beginning of the level.
* TimedMission: The bombs in Level 2.
* TotallyRadical: The instruction manual is full of flip lingo, dude.
* UnexpectedlyRealisticGameplay: In the first building in Area 3, just in front of the Turtle Van missiles, there's a gap between two platforms that is about as wide as your character and impossible to jump across, as the ceiling is too low and you end up hitting it and falling. The solution is to simply walk over it.
* UnwinnableByMistake: The North American MS-DOS port features a jump that can't be made unless you cheat. Is it any wonder why this version's considered a {{porting disaster}}?
See ''Franchise/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles'' for information on the franchise in general and similarly named works.