Heroes in a Half-Shell: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II Arcade Game NES Review

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are beloved by fans all over the world, and their legacy extends far beyond their original comic book origins. The Turtles have captured the hearts of generations, starring in cartoons, movies, and of course, video games. In 1990, a side-scrolling arcade game was released that would go on to become a classic among gaming enthusiasts – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game for NES.

This game was an adaptation of the popular arcade game of the same name, which was released in 1989. It quickly gained a reputation for being one of the best side-scrolling beat ’em up games ever made, thanks to its fast-paced action, memorable characters, and challenging gameplay. Today, TMNT II remains a celebrated classic, and we felt it was time to take a closer look at why it continues to hold such a special place in the hearts of gamers everywhere.

In this review, we aim to provide a comprehensive overview of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game for NES. We’ll delve into its history, examine its gameplay mechanics, and explore its impact on video game culture. Whether you’re a nostalgic fan looking to revisit a cherished childhood memory or a curious gamer seeking a new classic to add to your collection, we hope to provide valuable insights to enhance your gaming experience.

You are a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle

In “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game” (TMNT II), the player takes on the role of one of four anthropomorphic turtles named after Renaissance artists. The story revolves around their efforts to save New York City from the villainous Shredder and his army of foot soldiers. The game’s colorful visuals and catchy soundtrack set the stage for an exciting adventure that quickly became a classic among gamers.

As you play, you’ll notice that each turtle has its own unique weapons and abilities. Leonardo wields two katanas, Raphael uses twin sais, Michelangelo carries nunchucks, and Donatello wields a bo staff. Each turtle’s weapon has different ranges and effects on enemies, so players must choose which turtle fits their play style best.

The game features innovative gameplay that is a hallmark of classic beat ’em up games. Players work their way through enemy waves, using the martial arts skills of the turtles to defeat their foes. The controls are straightforward and easy to use, allowing players to focus on the action and enjoy the game. The game also includes classic arcade game elements such as stage bosses and environmental hazards.

TMNT II’s graphics and sounds were cutting-edge for its time, bringing the turtles and their world to life in a way that no previous game had done. The game’s art style has since become iconic, with the turtles’ character designs and animations still instantly recognizable today. The game’s soundtrack also garnered praise for its catchy tunes that perfectly fit the game’s tone and action.

TMNT II’s replay value is high, thanks to its co-op mode that allows up to four players to join in the fight against Shredder. Co-op play brings a new level of fun and teamwork to the game, allowing players to strategize and defeat enemies together.

Overall, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game stands out as a wonderful flashback to a simpler time in gaming, a time when quarter-munching was the norm and side-scrolling brawlers still stood alongside other video game genres.

The Evolution of the Turtle Genre

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise is one of the most recognizable and influential media franchises in pop culture. It all started with Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s comic book series, which later became a popular animated TV series, a merchandise empire, and, of course, video games.

TMNT’s impact on gaming is significant due to its early pioneering of using multimedia properties in creating games. The franchise soon found footing in the gaming industry, with the first game being released in 1989. By the early 1990s, the TMNT games had gained tremendous popularity as arcade and home console games.

Throughout its history, many TMNT games were made, but TMNT II: The Arcade Game has earned a unique place in gaming history. The game was developed by Konami and released for arcade cabinets in 1990. It was also ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1991.

Though several TMNT games were released before TMNT II, it was this title that enjoyed the most critical acclaim. Its arcade cabinet version remains a classic, with its four-player simultaneous play better than any other game at the time. Even today, players can enjoy the classic four-player co-op experience via emulators or on newer console ports.

The NES version of TMNT II was a technical pleasure that featured different levels and content than its arcade counterpart. Most notably, the game expanded the levels from the arcade version’s six to 10. It also featured a refined scoring system and new boss fights, making it an excellent alternative to the arcade and showing how the TMNT II game franchise evolved.

Konami’s approach to gameplay is notable in both versions. The company primarily focused on innovative design that made use of the arcade’s hardware capacities. This approach resulted in TMNT II’s resemblance of an action-packed movie, with levels such as the sewer, the Technodrome, and the Shredder’s hideout, each offering a visually rich gaming experience.

In conclusion, TMNT II carved a unique place in gaming history, with its arcade and NES versions offering a thrilling experience that stands out from other titles. The game’s significant contribution to TMNT’s evolution and its role in shaping the Turtle gaming legacy cannot be overstated.

What Critics Say About TMNT II

When Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game hit arcades and consoles in the early ’90s, gamers and critics were instantly hooked. The game quickly became a classic, and its reputation has only grown over the years. Let’s take a look at what critics have said about the game over the years.

During the game’s initial release, TMNT II received high praise from critics and fans alike. Critics highlighted its intuitive controls, varied gameplay, and impressive graphics. GamePro Magazine praised the game’s voice acting, which was considered groundbreaking at the time. Other publications noted the game’s massive success in arcades and its faithful adaptation for the NES.

Nowadays, critics still hold TMNT II in high regard. Review aggregator site Metacritic gives the game an 84, based on 6 reviews. Critics continue to be impressed by the game’s blending of fun and challenging gameplay, coupled with its adherence to the TMNT franchise’s style and characters. One reviewer noted, “TMNT II is one of the all-time great arcade games, and it still holds up today.”

One of the game’s biggest strengths is its replay value. With four characters to choose from and multiple levels to conquer, TMNT II provides a well-rounded experience that kept gamers coming back for more in the early ’90s, and even today. The game’s difficulty has also been lauded, with critics noting that it’s challenging but never frustrating.

Comparisons have been drawn between TMNT II and other side-scrolling beat ’em up games, such as Streets of Rage and Double Dragon. While many beat ’em ups tend to share similar mechanics and gameplay, TMNT II stands out with its character selection, charming art style, and memorable villains.

In conclusion, TMNT II remains a classic and beloved game for good reason. Over the years, it has earned high praise from both fans and critics, and its influence can still be felt in the gaming industry today. Its intuitive controls, memorable characters, and lasting replay value make it a must-play title for any arcade or retro gaming enthusiast.

The Turtle Legacy Forever

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II has been around for over three decades and has become a cultural icon loved by generations. Its characters are instantly recognizable, and its catchy theme song is known worldwide. The legacy of TMNT II has left a significant impact on gaming history and pop culture.

The game’s continued popularity is due to the fact that it’s much more than just a game. It’s a part of people’s childhoods, a symbol of nostalgia, and a reminder of a simpler time. The history and influence of TMNT II are undeniable.

The game has influenced many future games, especially other side-scrolling beat ’em ups. Developers who worked on TMNT II have even gone on to create other classic games like Strider, Final Fight, and Street Fighter II. These games are now part of gaming history, and TMNT II helped pave the way for their success.

The game also had a significant cultural influence, inspiring merchandise, comics, cartoon shows, and movies. It introduced the world to the concept of “ninja turtles,” and phraseology like “Cowabunga” became part of our everyday vernacular. The TMNT franchise remains a beloved part of pop culture, even today, with a new animated series and movie in the works.

What makes TMNT II a classic is its timeless appeal and the fact that it’s still enjoyable to play today. Its compelling storyline, amazing graphics, and fantastic music all contribute to its continued success. The game’s four playable characters, each with their unique weapons and abilities, offer players endless opportunities for strategy and replay value.

In conclusion, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II is a classic game that has left an indelible mark on gaming history and pop culture. Its impact on future games and its ability to remain relevant are a testament to its legacy. TMNT II has rightfully earned its spot among gaming history’s most iconic games, and its enduring popularity proves that it will remain a classic for generations to come.

Conclusion: Heroes in a Half-Shell Endure

After a detailed exploration of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II arcade game for NES, we come to a conclusion that it remains a classic game that any gamer, old or new, should play.

TMNT II provides exciting action and storyline with great gameplay mechanics, fantastic controls, and graphics that were impressive during its time. Even though it was released over three decades ago, it stands out in the turtle genre and has influenced many games in the future.

The game’s continued popularity and its influence on pop culture required it to reinvented many times, and TMNT II remains a fan favorite. It managed to define the turtle genre to its core, and despite being almost ancient, it remains as relevant and fun to play today.

Whether you’ve played TMNT II years ago or are new to it, we suggest giving it a replay. It provides a unique experience that will keep you engaged for hours. TMNT II continues to inspire new generations of gamers and is a true testament to its timeless legacy as a classic in the gaming industry.


  1. What is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II arcade game for NES?

    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II arcade game for NES is a side-scrolling beat ’em up video game that was released in 1990 by Konami. It is based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book and animated series.

  2. Why is TMNT II considered a classic among gaming enthusiasts?

    TMNT II is considered a classic because it was a groundbreaking game during its time. It offered an engaging storyline, challenging gameplay, and memorable characters that made it a fan favorite.

  3. Is TMNT II available on modern gaming platforms?

    Yes, TMNT II is available on modern gaming platforms such as PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, and Nintendo Switch Online.

  4. How has TMNT II influenced future games and pop culture?

    TMNT II has had a significant influence on future games and pop culture. It paved the way for other side-scrolling beat ’em up video games and influenced the development of future TMNT games and merchandise.

  5. What are some notable features of TMNT II?

    Some notable features of TMNT II include the ability to switch between Turtle characters, the use of special moves and weapons, and the inclusion of memorable boss battles and levels.

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