From the pages of the past! Ads of yesteryear – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Recently, Michael Bay had received a lot of flack for a comment he had made on the upcoming TMNT movie he’s producing.

Specifically, on making the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles aliens. ALIENS. Well, they were mutated from ooze created at a secret alien facility…

This set off a firestorm of protest from longtime fans and I’ll admit, the inner child inside me still playing with those TMNT memories from the comics and the eighties TV series cried a small tear especially after seeing what happened with the Transformers.

Shortly afterwards, he clarified what he was saying by indicating that he was working with one of the original creators (Kevin Eastman was invited down to check out the work being done) to make it “a richer world”. Soon after, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the co-creators of TMNT, had also posted their own thoughts with plenty of supportive words.

So it might not be so bad, right? After reading through their responses, I’ve gone from “Annoyed” to “Curiously Intrigued, though slightly still Annoyed” on just how they’re going to play on this alien angle. But…BUT…if it involves the Utroms, the Triceraton Republic, the Federation, and Lord Simultaneous worked in somehow, it could be exciting stuff. But I’ll wait until I hear, or see, more of what they’ve got going on.

And now here’s a look at Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Konami, released in ’89 by their Ultra Games label!

It took after the popular cartoon show from the eighties that introduced the Turtles to the world and go on to define them for years to come. Konami put this one together as a side scrolling, platforming action adventure with levels stuffed with enemies, traps, and weapon pick-ups. Players could also switch between each of the four Turtles.

The game also used a Zelda-like top-down overworld to get around to the side scrolling parts. An overworld filled with its own dangers like Foot Clan driven steam rollers. Pizza slices kept everyone everyone healthy, but the brutal difficulty would also mean that a steady diet of those would be needed if they could be found. Still, the side scrolling sections were often the only way to bypass the big dangers on the overworld as long as you could survive the boss battles and brutal enemies that lived there. When a Turtle ran out of health, he was “captured” and had to be freed. That is, if you could find them.

This game also had something in common with Tecmo’s Ninja Gaiden on the NES with extra weapons that the Turtles could carry to give them an advantage in battle. If all of the Turtles are captured, you could continue the game – but pretty much loose the toys, and pizza slices, you had picked up. Ouch.

The Turtles also had the Party Wagon, their armed van, that would show up later in the game to help smash up the Foot Clan. Bosses included Rocksteady and Bebop, the Technodrome, and ultimately, the main man himself: the Shredder.

It was a brutally tough game, though whether that’s from an authentic challenge hasn’t convinced those who think it was one of the worst games ever made for its perceived flaws.

Regardless, it sold exceptionally well earning itself a place in history as one of the best selling NES titles ever made with four million copies making it to sewer hideouts everywhere. It wasn’t that surprising considering the massive popularity of the Turtles at the time, and the game would be followed on the NES with TMNT II: The Arcade Game, even though it didn’t pick up on the first one’s story.

It didn’t matter. The Arcade Game was really awesome stuff. It was something of a breath of fresh, button mashing air after getting beaten down by TMNT.

After the NES, TMNT was shortly ported to a massive list of other platforms such as the Commodore, the Amiga, and IBM PC compatibles to expand on that success. More recently, it would also appear on the Nintendo Wii’s Virtual Console to give a new generation a taste of early Turtle history in gaming.

The ad is pretty neat thanks to the edgy renditions of our heroes in a half shell. Ultra Games, Konami’s subsidiary label formed to get around Nintendo’s crazy strict publishing restrictions on third parties, had their name on this as one of their first releases in ’89.

One interesting thing I’ve noticed is that the ad boasts that the ports now feature the ULTRA “Game Save”  command – probably put in after hearing how many controllers ended up broken after its release on the NES. I don’t blame them. Breaking a computer is a lot more expensive.

TMNT ad for the ports

Four turtles and enough side scrolling action to wreck your reflexes. Or your patience, whichever came first.


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