Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (or Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles: Tournament Fighters in Europe) was fighting game released for the Nintendo Entertainment System. While not by any measure a rare game, is the rarest of the three Tournament Fighters games, and is considered an overall uncommon game. The game's storyline revolves around the Shredder challenging the Turtles to a battle, but are forced to fight amongst themselves and their allies to prove who is worthy enough to fight him.


The selectable characters in the game included:


The game's single-player Story mode has the player taking control of one of the four Turtles (Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Donatello), as they hold a contest amongst themselves to see who is fit to take on Shredder's challenge. After defeating the first four opponents (including a clone of the player's character), the player proceeds to fight Casey Jones and then Hothead (a character based on the Warrior Dragon from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures comics and the action figure of the same name) before the final match with the Shredder. In addition to the Story mode, the game also has two Versus modes (one against the CPU and another against a second player), as well as a four-player tournament mode. An option mode where the player can adjust the game's difficulty, continues, and speed is also available.

The gameplay follows many of the standard fighting game conventions. Battles consist of three-round matches and the first player to win two rounds is the victor. Each character has their own repertoire of basic punch and kick techniques, as well as command-based special moves. Game-play was minimalistic for a fighting game. Graphically, each Turtle is a palette swap of the same sprite set, not using any signature weapons in combat, but each character possessed a different combination of basic and special moves.

The NES version allows the player to match any character against a clone of himself, with the exception of Hothead. Two players were unable to select Hothead under normal circumstances, unless a glitch was exploited in the game's "Vs. CPU" mode, due to technical limitations. The second Hothead will be colored differently, as with all same character matches in the game, but the game will also flicker due to the large size of both characters. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection offers Hothead mirror matches as an enhancement feature.

At a point in the match, Splinter's face will appear on a floating monitor that wall drop a red ball power-up in the middle of the stage that can be retrieved by either fighter. Collecting the ball will allow the character to utilize their Super Move by inputting the appropriate command, which will at that time also free the ball to be used again by either player.

The NES version of Tournament Fighters featured Leonardo and Hothead on the cover, and was the last third-party game to be released in North America and the PAL region on that console in 1994. Unlike the other versions of Tournament Fighters, this was also the only version of the game to not be released in Japan. Tournament Fighters was one of the few fighting games released for the NES during the early 1990s fighting game boom when this genre was at its most popular.

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