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Video Game / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game

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A 1989 Beat 'em Up by Konami based on the adolescent humanoid shinobi terrapins created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird... more specifically, the 1987 cartoon. As the title suggests, this game was released in the arcades, though only as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Several ports renamed it Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game to disambiguate it from the first console game — the Famicom version kept the original name, as its version of the previous game was renamed Geki Kame Ninja Den (Fierce Turtle Ninja Legend).

The plot is fairly simple: the four eponymous Turtles — Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael — must rescue their news reporter friend April O'Neil, and later their beloved Master Splinter, from the clutches of the Shredder and the Foot Clan. The action takes the Turtles from New York to the city's depths, where after saving their friends, the quartet heads into the Technodrome to defeat Krang and then the Shredder himself.

The arcade version of this game was a milestone in the genre. Up to four players could play, and the Turtles varied a little from each other in terms of attack range and speed. Donatello possesses excellent range with his bo staff but hits the slowest. Michelangelo and Raphael hit the fastest, but their weapons — the nunchaku and sais respectively — provide limited range. Team leader Leonardo hits with average speed and range using his katanas.

Many later games in and outside of the Ninja Turtles series, to say the least, have tried to emulate this one's style. Konami themselves would adapt and refine the game style for several later beat-'em-ups (The Simpsons, X-Men (1992), Bucky O'Hare, Sunset Riders, Violent Storm, etc.) and years later would even attempt this for the games based on the 2003 series with varying degrees of quality. Ubisoft applied the beat-'em-up formula to the Game Boy Advance game based on the 2007 animated film. A stand-alone 2013 game, Out of the Shadows (no relation to the 2014 movie), attempted to put a 3D spin on it. Raw Thrills did an arcade game of their own for the 2012 series in a beat-'em-up fashion. PlatinumGames gleaned a bit from the arcade for inspiration and mixed it up with their signature character action fare for their own Ninja Turtle game, Mutants in Manhattan. Dotemu (Streets of Rage 4, Windjammers 2) and Tribute Games took their own crack at a classic-style 1987 cartoon-based beat-'em-up in Shredder's Revenge.

There were several ports of this game. The Nintendo Entertainment System version featured downgraded graphics and audio, and allowed only up to two players (obviously since the NES's hardware wasn't exactly arcade quality) and less different type of enemies onscreen simultaneously, but it did add two new stages and swapped the second fight vs. Rocksteady and Bebop with a fight against Baxter Stockman in his fly form, making it the best port one could find of the game until the arcade version was re-released in 2007 for Xbox Live Arcade. The computer ports varied greatly in quality, from passable to underwhelming. A direct port of the original arcade game can also be unlocked in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Battle Nexus, but with altered music and the ability to put infinite credits into the game for unlimited lives.

In 1991, the game would receive a sequel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time (which for the SNES port, listed it as the fourth game in the series, after Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Manhattan Project).

In 2018 it got a home arcade release which came also bundled with Turtles In Time by Arcade 1Up, and in March 2022, both the arcade and NES games were announced to be a part of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection, which would be released for all platforms later that year. All the original music is present in this version, save for a new recording of the classic theme song.

This game provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: One stage is such, but considering the source material...
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • One of the most badass versions of Shredder in the franchise. While the cartoons generally depicted him as something of a joke and not really all that dangerous, (especially compared to later adaptations) the final battle against Shredder in the arcade game can verge on outright That One Boss.
    • Bebop and Rocksteady, while still early bosses, are far more competent than their cartoon counterparts.
  • Adaptation Expansion: To compensate for the downgraded graphics and the lack of 4-Player support, the NES version adds two new stages (Snowy Central Park and the House of Shogun) and replaces the Bebop and Rocksteady Dual Boss battle with a fight against Baxter's fly form.
  • Adaptational Skimpiness: In the arcade version, the female skateboarder in Scene 2 wore pants that reached the inside of her shoes. In the NES version, she instead wore a pair of shorts.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: Averted, surprisingly. See the USA box art on the top page? That same cover was used for the EU and JP version of the game.
  • Animorphism: In the NES version, immediately after you defeat Baxter in his human form, he reappears in a short scene as his fly form.
  • April Fools' Day: Electronic Gaming Monthly's first infamous joke involved playing this game as Simon Belmont.
  • Ascended Extra: Mousers, which initially only made a single appearance in the original comics and the cartoon, are enemies in a few levels. Same can be said of the Roadkill Rodneys, who only appeared in a single episode but were latched onto by game developers for their unique design, with both appearing as enemies in games all the way up through Shredder's Revenge.
  • Aside Glance: On the NES version, each of the Turtles have this in their standing poses.
  • Badass in Distress: As if having to save April wasn't enough, Splinter is taken hostage too in one stage. (And given how Granitor appears when you find him, he was probably kidnapped to lure the Turtles into an ambush.)
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: The first boss battle against Rocksteady.
  • Big "NO!": The same exact one is uttered by some of the bosses when they're defeated, such as Rocksteady and Bebop.
  • Boss-Only Level: The final stage is sort of like this, except you fight two bosses, one after another. First Krang, then Shredder, who's the Final Boss.
  • Canon Foreigner: The beastly Tora and the robotic Shogun were two intergalactic bounty hunters added to the NES version.
  • Cherry Tapping: The safest way to defeat most any enemy in the game, be it lowly Foot Soldier or boss, is to jump kick him, then jump away before he can recover from the hit. The jump kick does little damage, but its high mobility generally trumps the more powerful standard attacks which nearly guarantee taking damage in return.
  • Classic Cheat Code: In the NES version, there's button-pressing codes you can enter on the title screen for nine lives, stage select, or both. Oddly for the time period, none of them are the Konami Code.
  • Color-Coded Multiplayer: Leonardo (Player 1) is blue, Michelangelo (Player 2) is yellow, Donatello (Player 3) is purple, and Raphael (Player 4) is red.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: That burning building doesn't seem to actually be doing any harm to anyone. In fact, you can walk until you're chest deep in the flames with no ill effects.
  • Damsel in Distress: April. In Stage 1, she is in danger of being grilled to perfection. After beating the stage boss — Rocksteady — Shredder swoops out of nowhere and kidnaps April.
  • Detachment Combat: Shogun, the boss of the stage House of Shogun, which is unique to the NES version, has the ability to cause his head to detach and fly around the arena as you fight him. Upon defeat, Shogun explodes until only pair of robot legs remain, revealing he was some variety of robot.
  • Difficulty by Region: The Japanese Famicom version is actually easier than the US and EU counterparts. Due to pinball scoring, and easier methods of gaining lives. In the Japanese version too, enemies and bosses have less health and don't take as many hits compared to the other addition, the special move is much easier to pull off, as you can press jump while holding down the attack button, and the jump kick inflicts the same damage as the special move.
  • Dual Boss: Rocksteady and Bebop in the arcade version. Occasionally they both charge forward, only to miss and headbutt each other instead.
  • Elevator Action Sequence: The Technodrome has a descending inclined elevator where giant marbles roll past trying to squash you.
  • The End... Or Is It?: The epilogue, which gushes about how the Technodrome has been destroyed, notes that Shredder may have survived. The NES version goes one step further, showing the Shredder laughing after the credits to indicate he'll be back.
  • Exploding Barrels: Some explosive barrels are found in some of the levels. After being damaged, they have a delay before exploding.
  • Flunky Boss:
    • Baxter, the third Boss, attacks while throwing Mousers at you, but if you deplete his Life Meter, they all blow up; however, if he throws them all, he leaves, and you have to destroy them all to win the fight.
    • Shredder, the Final Boss, can make duplicates of himself that do much less damage than he does (but can still hurt you).
  • Game Lobby: The Xbox Live Arcade version works this way, requiring players to get together in a group if they wish to play together. While four-player play was part of the original game's appeal, this system makes it nearly impossible to get a four-player match going.
  • Graceful Landing, Clumsy Landing: The first stage takes place in April's apartment while it's on fire. The turtles leap to it from a taller building, landing gracefully and ready for action, with the exception of Michelangelo, who slips and falls flat on his butt upon landing.
  • Heroic Fire Rescue: The first stage is April O'Neil's apartment set ablaze, where your mission is to save April.
  • Konami Code: Uses a variant with the A and B buttons reversed. Allows you to choose which stage to start from, along with granting nine lives instead of the default three.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: Defeating Shredder at the end of the game caused the Technodrome to explode for... whatever reason. Naturally it's fine in subsequent games.
  • Market-Based Title: The arcade game itself was simply titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. When it was ported to the NES, it was retitled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game to distinguish it from the earlier unrelated NES game while at the same time making it clear to players that it was based on the arcade game.
The original Japanese arcade edition was T.M.N.T: Super Kame Ninja.
  • For French-speaking countries, the game was known as Tortues Ninja 2: Le Coin-Op!
  • For Europe, it was known as Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles II: The Arcade Game due to censors at the time of having "Ninja" in it.
  • Made of Explodium: The Foot Soldiers explode when you kill them, and a few bosses (the two giant Rock Soldiers and Krang, plus Shogun in the NES version) go out in very dramatic explosions.
  • One-Hit Kill: Shredder possesses an Anti-Mutagen Beam that can revert your Turtle back into a regular turtle if hit, resulting in an instant life loss. Possibly the cutest One-Hit Kill ever.
  • Palette Swap: Much like the Turtles themselves, the Foot Soldiers are color-coded to indicate their weapons of choice. Bosses on critical health will flash red or yellow via "Konami seizure time", except Baxter Stockman who will rather flash red only when he gets hit.
  • Pinball Scoring: Only in the Famicom version of the game. The others allot you exactly one point per defeated enemy.
  • Power-Up Food: Pizza, naturally, used to replenish the Life Meter.
  • Product Placement: The NES version featured some instances of the Pizza Hut logo in-game, as well as Pizza Hut coupons in the manual. The Cowabunga Collection does away with this, however.
  • Recurring Boss: Rocksteady and Bebop are both fought twice in the arcade version, first individually, then as a team. Baxter appears as two separate boss battles in the NES version, first as a human, then in his mutated fly form.
  • Re-Release Soundtrack: The version of the arcade game that can be unlocked in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Battle Nexus replaces every single song in the game, which led to it only having one song for every level, and one song for every boss. To a lesser extent, the initial Arcade1Up home cabinets and The Cowabunga Collection replace the original theme song with a Cover Version of the same song, likely because it was less costly to make a cover than to pay for the use of the original.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: Striking the skateboarding girl in the second stage yields a point for some bizarre reason.
  • Robotic Reveal: When the NES-exclusive boss Shogun is defeated, he explodes, which leaves a robotic endoskeleton lower body as his remains.
  • Secondary Adaptation: A 1989 single-to-four player Beat 'em Up game based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987), which is based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Mirage). As its name implies, it was initially released as an arcade cabinet, but was also distributed on the Nintendo Entertainment System console.
  • Sequential Boss: The game ends with you fighting General Traag, Krang, and Shredder, all in a row — though the latter two fights are fought in a final boss room that is actually considered a new stage on the NES version.
  • Smooch of Victory: April gives one to the Turtle with the highest score when she is rescued.
  • Spring Is Late: In the NES version, Stage 4 is a snowy park. Upon defeating the boss, Tora, the turtles destroy a Weather-Control Machine and the setting immediately turns to spring, with the turtles announcing that "Spring is here."
  • Stealth Pun: In the bonus dojo stage in the NES version, an illustration of a tiger painted on the paper wall comes to life and attacks the players. It's a literal paper tiger!
  • Title: The Adaptation: In the NES version, it was given both a sequel number (to the earlier game for the system) and The Arcade Game subtitle.
  • Trash Talk:
    Bebop: You're dead, shellbrain!
    Bebop: Watch your mouth, slime ball!
  • Turns Red: Possibly the Trope Codifier, for the genre at least.
    • The helicopter enemies had a variation in turning green, upon getting hit.
  • Unique Enemy: The NES version has three unique enemies in a single stage. Shogun's stage had Robot Gorilla Ninjas, Robot Scorpions, and Robot Tigers that come to life out of door paintings. There are also snowman-disguised robots in Stage 4.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: You have the option to attack the young woman who skateboards past in Stage 2, who will then scream and cower as she rides away, which yields a point for whatever reason. There's no penalty for doing this; it's just a little something extra to do if the player feels like being a jerk.
  • Watch for Rolling Objects: In the first stage, there is a section where rolling metal balls roll down from the stairs.
  • X-Ray Sparks: The Turtles suffer this effect when zapped by Roadkill Rodneys and laser cannons.


Video Example(s):


Bebop & Rocksteady (Arcade)

Bebop & Rocksteady are fought in the fourth boss encounter on the original arcade port.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / DualBoss

Media sources: