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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: What Did Critics Think in 1990?
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on March 24, 2014   |   Episode 20 (Show Archive)  

   

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES)
Ever wonder what Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro and other popular magazines thought of your favorite 8-, 16- and 32-bit games? Now you can find out, thanks to Review Crew! This is the only show on the internet that is willing to go back in time to find out what old school critics thought of retro games at the time. Did they pan your favorite game? Did they love something terrible? Find out every week as Defunct Games presents Review Crew!

In 1989, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles couldn't be hotter. They had a popular cartoon and action figures that were flying off store shelves. The stage was set for their first 8-bit video game, a 2D adventure that is generally regarded as one of the worst NES games of all time. But did Electronic Gaming Monthly, CVG, GamePro and Nintendo Power agree? Let's take a trip back and see what the critics thought of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles back in 1989.

(NOTE: Although we occasionally cut for length, no other edits are made to the review. Defunct Games does not change any of the wording, grammar or punctuation use. Also keep in mind that our score is the average of all critics at the time, not just the sample that is reprinted on this page. If you still have more questions, I recommend you check out the Review Crew FAQ, where we address the review guidelines, converting scores, magazine covers and more.)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
[ Company: Konami | Console: NES ]

COMPUTERS & VIDEOGAMES #104
89% out of 100%

"The Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles have certainly cowabunga'd their way into this issue with a vengeance. Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles really is a super cartridge, and what's more, it's now being given away free with the console itself! Extremely good value, both for those who buy it and those who get it for now!" -Paul Rand

ELECTRONIC GAMING MONTHLY #4
6 out of 10

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a decent game that has some adequate action sequences that get bogged down by the adventure aspect of play. Nothing about the game is revolutionary, but it does possess some nice qualities and familiar characters." -Steve

NINTENDO POWER #5
4 out of 5

"The game is based on the characters created in Eastman and Laird's hit comic book of the same name, and will feature all of the fast action and crazy ninja tactics that you love in the comic book. One of the best things about this game is the superb play control in the Action Scenes and the super-sharp graphics."

THE GAMES MACHINE #32
86% out of 100%

"The game kicks off to a great start with an original tune and some impressive portraits of the turtles. Though, sadly, some of the in-game graphics are a bit iffy and there is the odd screen glitch. Initial playability is high, all the turtle sprites are well drawn and animated and the bad guys present quite the challenge. Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles is a very playable slash-'em-up, I just hope that whoever's producing the home computer version hurries up." -Mark Caswell

ELECTRONIC GAMING MONTHLY #4
6 out of 10

"TMNT wasn't overly impressive -- I thought it would have been much better considering all the hype that it received. The game play is there and the graphics are nice, but the whole cart didn't meet my expectations. It is good, but I was expecting more." -Donn

GAMEPRO (March 1991)
3 out of 5

"The absence of a multi-player option detracts from the whole concept of Turtles togetherness, the overall action is just average, and it's nearly impossible to finish with only two-continues. Despite these drawbacks, however, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will rank as one of the top-selling NES carts of all time. What gives? Turtle power, dudes. When you're hot, you're hot. Cowabunga!" -Slasher Quan

RAZE #2
87% out of 100%

"I'm not quite the person that all the Ninja Turtle hype is aimed at (I'm almost 61, you know!), but even I had a great time playing the NES version of the fab four's frolics. The difficulty factor is set just right; frustrating but nothing toput your Nintendo in physical danger. The five action-packed levels are more than the average player can handle, but they just keep enticing you back for more."

ELECTRONIC GAMING MONTHLY #4
4 out of 10

"The controls in TMNT are too jerky and it quickly becomes difficult to control your characters. The scrolling also hinders the game by placing you in vulnerable positions. The intermissions are cool, but the rest of this cart is a disappointment. Not a true Konami game." -Jim
REVIEW CREW AVERAGE: 67% - The critics were all over the board when it came to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle's first game. Some critics genuinely enjoyed the game, such as Computer & Video Games, who called it a "super cartridge." Nintendo Power also enjoyed it, giving it a higher score than Bionic Commando, Contra III, Earthworm Jim and Dr. Mario.

On the other hand, there were a few critics who realized how bad this game was at the time. Jim at Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the game a pitiful 4 out of 10, one of the lowest scores he had given up to that point. GamePro wasn't very keen on the game, either. Slasher Quan argued that the game needed multiplayer support, but knew it would sell out almost immediately. For as hated as the game is in 2014, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles averages higher than many people might expect. I wonder what CVG's Paul Rand would say about the "Hero" Turtles today.

UPDATE #1: Added new reviews from The Game Machine and Raze on March 26, 2014.

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