Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Box art of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Developer(s) Konami
Publisher(s) Konami
Composer(s) Keizo Nakamura
Platform(s) Famicom/Nintendo Entertainment System, Arcade (Play-Choice 10), Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, ZX Spectrum, Wii Virtual Console
Release date NES

JP May 12, 1989
NA June 1989
EU August 17, 1990

Genre(s) Platform game
Mode(s) Single player
Media 2-megabit cartridge
Input method(s) Gamepad, Keyboard

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles in most European territories, and Geki Kame Ninja Den in Japan.) is a 1989 platform game for the Nintendo Entertainment System. This is the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game. The game was developed by Konami and originally released through Konami's Ultra Games imprint in North America and its equivalent, Palcom Software, in the PAL region. Though the NES version is the most popular, it was also ported to the MSX and various computers in 1990. The NES version was ported to Nintendo's PlayChoice-10 arcade system in 1991 and the Wii's Virtual Console service in 2007.

The game is based on the 1987 TV series, which was in its third season during the game's original release, but with the style of the original comic series.

In this game, the Shredder has kidnapped April and the Turtles must save her.

The game has the player going through six areas, including the Technodrome. All of the Turtles are available as playable characters.


The four Turtles as they appear in the game.

The gameplay in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles begins with an overhead view similar to that found in RPGs for navigation, switching to a side view whenever the Turtle being controlled enters a manhole or a building—much like the two different perspectives found in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Enemies can attack the player while exploring in the overhead view; Foot Soldier, Roller Cars (effectively steam rollers), and, in later missions, even aircraft can assault the player. However, the Turtle can strike back with his weapon or, in Mission 3, either missiles or cannon fire from the Party Wagon. Once inside a sewer or a building, the player encounters enemy characters such as Fire Freaks (beings of living fire), additional Foot Soldiers (who jump, kick, and throw Shurikens), and Mousers. The player can also acquire weapons and special items and pick up pizza to restore life force. A sub-screen accessed through the Start Menu shows a summary of each Turtle's health and whatever special weapon he has picked up, a map grid of the current area (not available inside Mission 6, the Technodrome), and messages from either Splinter or April O'Neil. A Turtle who runs out of energy, falls into a fatal trap such as a fire pit, or is run over by a Roller Car is not actually killed; instead, he is captured by the enemy, losing whatever special items he had acquired. Captured Turtles can be rescued starting in Mission 3, though only one Turtle can be freed per level.

In the second half of Mission 2, the Turtles dive into the Hudson River to find and disarm a total of eight time bombs that have been planted at a dam. In this level, the Turtles must navigate a number of traps, such as electrical currents and electrified seaweed, with a time limit of two minutes and twenty seconds to find and disarm all of them. Should the player fail to find all bombs within the time limit, the game immediately ends.

The stages for the game are as follows in the game's instruction manual:

Mission 1: Fifth Avenue/Greenwich Village: The goal is to rescue April O'Neil, who has been kidnapped and is held hostage by Bebop (a mini-boss in one of the sewers) and Rocksteady (the level's final boss).


Mission 2: Hudson River near the Holland Tunnel: After fighting through multiple levels of enemies, the Turtles dive into the river from atop the dam to try and disarm all the explosives before the dam can be blown up.

Mission 3: Wall Street: The Turtles find that their lair has been trashed and Splinter kidnapped. In this mission, the goal is to navigate the streets of New York, using the Party Wagon for transportation, ultimately defeating Mechaturtle and freeing Splinter.

Mission 4: JFK International Airport: Shredder escapes in a helicopter at the end of Mission 3. The goal of Mission 4 is to find the Turtle Blimp to follow him to his secret base somewhere in the city. A Big Mouser capable of firing eye beams and dropping smaller Mousers guards the blimp.

Mission 5: Shredder's Base inside the South Bronx: The Turtles sneak into this base at night, and the compound is patrolled by overhead Searchlight Mechanisms that will dispatch Foot Soldiers to ground level if a Turtle is spotted by one of the beams. The goal here is to locate the Technodrome somewhere underground; in fact, the Technodrome itself is the level's guardian.

Mission 6: The Technodrome: After disabling the Technodrome itself, the Turtles invade to finally track down and put an end to Shredder's operations. Shredder himself confronts the Turtles at the end, possessing a ray gun that can reverse mutations.

A number of items can be picked up during the quest, including Shurikens (throwing stars), Triple Shurikens (allows the launch of three Shurikens simultaneously in a spreading pattern), Boomerangs, and the "Kiai," which is effectively a scroll that expands into a crescent-shaped beam and inflicts devastating damage on even boss characters. These items are occasionally dropped by enemies. Other items, none of which are dropped by enemies and can only be found lying around in buildings or sewers, include "Anti-Foot Clan Missiles" for the Party Wagon in Mission 3, ropes for crossing wide gaps between buildings, and Mr. Invincibility, a turtle-head icon that supercharges a Turtle for several seconds, making him impervious to attack and able to instantly kill any enemy with a single hit. There are also three kinds of pizza that can be retrieved: A single slice of pizza restores 25% health (two life boxes); a half pizza restores 50% health (four life boxes); and a whole pizza restores the Turtle's entire life gauge. The Turtles can attack either with their standard ninja weapons while jumping, walking, or crouching, or, by pressing Select, switch to one of the alternate weapons that he has picked up along the way. Ropes are used automatically from buildings with the appropriate pipes for making the connection.





The game was released in Japan as Geki Kame Ninja Den (激亀忍者伝? "Fierce Turtle Ninja Legend"), in Italy as Tartarughe Ninja and in the rest of Europe as Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles.

The game was ported to various home computer platforms in 1990, including the Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and Amiga. The MS-DOS version is infamous, as it contains an impossible jump during the third level.[1]

It was also released in 2007 on the Wii's Virtual Console. It was released for the Wii in Europe and Australia for 500 points. In North America, it was released for Wii on April 2, 2007 for the price of 600 points—100 points more than the average NES game—due to a licensing issue.[2] The game's price in Europe and Australia was later raised to 600 Wii Points. This is the very first licensed game to appear on the North American and European Virtual Console.

The Virtual Console version is no longer available due to an expired license and Nickelodeon's acquisition of the franchise.

Reception and follow-up

The original NES version sold extremely well during its release, selling roughly 4 million copies. It is one of the all-time best-selling NES games not made by Nintendo. Various computer conversions were rushed out in time for that year's Christmas season but did not fare nearly as well, commercially or critically. Part of this stems from a porting error that creates an impossible jump during a sewer level.

The game received Nintendo Power's 1989 Game of the Year award. However, Nintendo Life's review on the game was not positive, earning only a 3/10.

Later in 1989, Konami released an arcade game, also called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In 1990, it was ported to the NES as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game, even though it wasn't a true "sequel" to the first TMNT game beyond sharing the basic license. The second game had a more cartoony look, stronger ties to the TV series, more straightforward beat 'em up gameplay, and support for 4-player simultaneous play (2 players for the NES version). This new style became the standard for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games for the next few years.


  • The cover art depicts all four Turtles wearing red masks just like their original comic appearance which was actually the cover used for the 2nd reprint of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles issue 4 (Mirage), the same image source used for the blister packaging of Konami's 1989 LCD handheld. However, in the game itself, the Turtles each have their own colored masks (Blue, Red, Orange and Purple).
  • When Michaelangleo's health bar drops below 50%, his basic attack power greatly increases. The manual clues this phenomenon with the phrase "his courage will amaze you."
  • While Raphael's basic attack power is usually weaker than Donatello, he is highly effective against enemies in Mission 5.
  • The manual for the Famicom version identifies April as the daughter of Splinter. This is not corroborated in any other version of the game or installment of the franchise.
  • The game was featured on the cover of volume 6 of Nintendo Power magazine in 1989 and also won 2 awards in the 1989 Nintendo Power Awards: "Best Theme, Fun" and "Best Game Overall".
  • The game's intro uses a strobe effect, popular in Japan in the 1980s and 1990s. Due to the association with such effects and epileptic seizures, this effect has become controversial in recent years.

See also


  1. Scary-Crayon reviews... Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I & II (MS-DOS PC versions). Retrieved on June 21, 2010.
  2. Dennis Lee, group manager for Konami. Konami Talks Virtual Console. IGN. “As you know, currently we do not hold the video game license for TMNT, so we had to create a new licensing deal for these titles”

External links

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