Features// Replay: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project

Posted 20 Apr 2010 09:03 by
Did you know that SPOnG is more than a news site? Oh yes! We have a huge Game Museum archiving almost every single computer game you can think of. 'Replay' is a regular feature where we play through a title in our database ? be it old, overlooked or simply niche ? and give you the impressions of today.

Cowabunga dudes! Totally tubular! Radical! Gnarly! And other such awesome phrases! Talk about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and these words will inevitably come up in conversation. Those four mondo mutant crime-fighters are just that bodacious! Okay, I'll stop doing that.

The Turtles have had a rather interesting history on the retro timeline, with Konami taking up development duties on most of the early computer games. Of course, the one we all remember is the classic 1989 arcade action game ? which doubled up as the second home console release on the Nintendo Entertainment System.

There was a previous one, which was more of a top-down adventure game mixed with platform elements, but it sucked the big one. And then of course, there was the awesome SNES fighting game and the action platformers of recent years. Truly, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise has been one of the more flexible when it comes to gaming genres.

But for today's Replay, we're going to focus on TMNT III: The Manhattan Project for the NES. And there's a special reason for this ? like one or two other games in the franchise, this title never saw the light of day in the UK and other PAL territories. Which is a shame, because Konami decided to refine the formula of the arcade game and create a sequel that arguably improved upon it.

For a start, the story was a bit more ridiculous. Shredder's gone and kidnapped April O'Neil again ? you know, just because he can ? and turned the city of Manhattan into a floating island. For shits and giggles, we imagine. Eager to get his arse whipped, he challenges the Turtles to come to his lair and reverse the damage.

The four Turtles are a little more nimble to play as too, owing to the fact that it's a game built exclusively for the NES hardware and not a downsized port. Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michaelangelo each have varying degrees of reach and attack power, which means you won't be playing with the Sai if you're a beginner.

But the heroes have an added special ability on top of your standard jump and attack moves. You can pull this off by pressing A and B buttons at the same time, but it drains some of your player's health. Leonardo does a cyclone spin, Donatello performs a knockout roll across the screen, Raphael charges forward with a power drill attack and Michaelangelo bounces about feet first with a kangaroo kick.

Just like in the arcade game, there will be an army of bad guys and goons wanting to beat the hell out of you. They range from the bog-standard Foot Soldiers to the gun-wielding Stone Warriors and a bunch of hardnut robot guys besides. Mousers (or 'those little bastard mecha-dogs') are par for the course as you start your fight on the Manhattan Beach, surf to a battleship, cross a bridge to the floating city and infiltrate the Technodrome.

You'll find that there's a lot of variety in the enemies; even the Foot Soldiers come in different pastel colours. The purple ones like to kick a lot, red ones throw shurikens, white ones rock katanas and turquoise soldiers chuck throwing knives at you. Environmental hazards force you to change strategy as well ? on the battleship in the second stage, turrets fire across the deck, meaning you have minimal safe ground to tackle the next wave of opponents.

Although the collision detection is better in TMNT III: The Manhattan Project than it is in the arcade game, you can still find yourself struggling when it comes to flying enemies and bosses. When you have helicopters darting left and right and you have to jump-kick to destroy them, it doesn't help when there's an ambiguity in the location of the shadows.

Bosses, although unique and quite fun to take down, can sometimes be relentless ? particularly towards the end of the game, where Krang will just punch you in the face with his upper body half while his bottom half is trotting about waiting to follow up on you.

Strategy tends to fly out of the window in the latter half of the game, where you have to climb skyscrapers to reach a spaceship and fight a seemingly infinite number of bad guys to reach... Super Shredder. Bollocks.

But that's what happens when you use the template of an arcade game ? by its very nature, you're not going to get anywhere near the midway point of the game on one continue. And it takes an insane amount of practice to complete the game in one run. But just like the best arcade games in nature, beating down those colossal (and sometimes cheap) enemies can bring forth the fattest grin mankind has ever seen.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles side-scrolling beat-em up games were always known for their instant accessibility and great replayability. TMNT III: The Manhattan Project simply expanded on this concept and brought in references from comic and film sources to present a game that NES fans wouldn't be able to put down.

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