Who doesn’t love beat ’em ups? Simple to get into, oddly satisfying, and a great way to play cooperatively – it’s one of my favorite genres to go back to and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game (Giant Bomb|Wikipedia) is an early example on the NES.
Believe it or not, I never played this game until the writing of this article. I had played the original TMNT NES game back when it was new, but the sequel eluded me. Never owning an NES growing up, I never had the chance to try it, until a friend recently traded me a copy (thanks Mark!). Compared to some 16-bit and arcade beat ’em ups, TMNT 2 is definitely… more primitive. You start by selecting one of the four turtles and jump right in. You can use the d-pad to move the character up and down on the screen and advance to the right once all enemies are defeated – this is standard fare for the genre and it made me feel right at home. Since the NES controller only has 2 buttons outside of the d-pad and start/select, you have limited options – B attacks and A jumps. You can do a jumping attack as well, but as far as I could see that was pretty much it. I understand it’s a hardware limitation, but it makes the gameplay a little less interesting than it could be.
Graphics are quite good for an NES title – sprites are very large for the system and well detailed. I didn’t notice any slowdown at all and colors were good. I did notice that only one enemy type will ever be on screen at once – again, this is a hardware limitation but a bit disappointing. Scrolling was smooth which is something you don’t always see in NES titles. Overall, I would rate the graphics excellent for the time and platform.
Sound is also quite good – there are some 8-bit renditions of the classic TMNT theme, and the sound effects are fitting. There was some attempt at digitized voice work, but it was pretty bad – something I see a lot in older games, specifically on the Genesis.
Overall, this is a great example of the genre on the NES and a must own for any TMNT fan. I think the real value for me personally here is the 2-player coop option, but it was definitely fun as a single player as well.
Verdict: Play again! I think this would be great with a friend.
Images courtesy of Giant Bomb