May 10, 2007
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I & II DOS Reviews!

But first, Crayon Poetry Corner #14! I actually wrote this a really long time ago and completely forgot about it -- I think I was planning to accompany it with a voice recording. Anyway, I was about to post another poem when I stumbled upon it instead, so I figured I'd get this thing up. Seeing as how the poem was partly inspired by Frogger, the image to the right of the poem is taken from the SNES version. Yep.

That said, the star of today's update is this in-depth review of the MS-DOS versions of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I and II. Much like the PC port of Street Fighter II that we reviewed a year ago, these computer incarnations manage to be inexplicably different from the original versions in marked ways. I'm admittedly a bit fond of some of the graphical modifications to the first game (the Turtles look interesting and Shredder looks great, but I don't like what they did to April at all), but the changes to the gameplay of both titles are pretty hard to overlook. You'll read more about it in the actual article, but I will continue to argue that TMNT I is impossible to beat without cheating until someone out there proves me wrong. So get to it!

So in case you're up for taking the challenge or simply giving these games a try, here is a helpful tutorial on Abandonia for configuring DOSBox and getting games up and running. I personally recommend using a frontend like D-Fend to simplify the process, though.

That said, in case you've got absolutely no desire to play these broken games, here are some YouTube recordings that I made of the final battles and ending sequences. I've been going crazy with YT as of late. 🙂

Aaaand while we're at it, here are a few more videos that I posted to YouTube of the movie game. Two are boss battles with the Generals (one each); the other is an extended battle with the Shredder and his clones, which is what happens if you don't target the genuine article. It's too bad the Turtles don't gain EXP or coins for every defeated enemy -- that battle would be solid gold for leveling up and making money. :mrgreen:

All for now, then. Seeya next time, minna-san! 😛

-posted by Wes | 9:14 pm | Comments (17)
17 Comments »
  • spoodles says:

    Wow...I didn't even know they ported those over to PC.

    I got TMNT on the virtual console, and I can't even get past that first water level. In fact, that's as far as I got when I rented it as a kid, too. That's a hard-assed game. Meanwhile, TMNTII: The Arcade Game was one of my absolute favorites, and I much preferred it to the actual arcade.

    Great article, and I really liked the poem too. Funny shit.

  • Matto says:

    Very in-depth and written wonderfully. I'm still LOLing over that image tag on that one screen shot of Scene 1 where April is screaming by her desk. "What a scoop!" but... the NES version of scared April is by far better then the Arcade version (even if she didn't have a mouth and eyes, and her breasts grew bigger...)

    Cheers!

  • haywood says:

    You always do a great job with your articles. After reading the review of both games, I had to go break out TMNT on the NES (I couldn't get the Dos version to work for some reason...) Nearly 15 years later I still can't do anything about the stupid underwater section. Maybe it was never meant to be.

  • Matto says:

    @ haywood: Don't feel discouraged, the underwater level is tough as nails, but it IS beatable. You should use Raph or Mikey since they are pretty much useless in the majority of the other stages.

  • Nigel says:

    This article exposed a whole (darker) side to TMNT video games I had no idea existed. That underwater section is hell itself and the simple reminder of it makes me angry.

    Also, I know this isn't about this article specifically but I am amazed I haven't read any of the stuff on this site before. I had a fantastic time reading through a whole load of articles in the archives.

  • garsh says:

    Hey, thanks for this awesome article. A couple weeks ago I scoured the onlineslol for something exactly like this and turned up nothing significant. I'm really glad I stumbled on your site. It's the details that I appreciate most, like the music file download, side-by-side comparison screens, and even using the proper "title" tags on your images (as opposed to "alt") so they show in firefox on mouseover. Evidently it's been a while since you did this, but I just wanted to let you know how grateful I am.

  • lampadario says:

    I remember the issue of the jump in the sewers, as far as I
    can remember there were 2 versions of the game for the PC.
    One called "teenage mutant hero turtles" with the issue, and another
    called "teenage mutant ninja turtles" that solved the issue
    and the jump gap was reduced (or vice-versa).

  • whetphish says:

    There were two ports of this game on the PC - one was the American port Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the other was the British port Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles (as the Turtles were called here).

    They were two completely different ports with different graphics, gameplay, etc.

    I downloaded the American version mentioned in the article but can't find the UK version anywhere on the net. I bought it from eBay but it's on 5.25" floppies and I can't find my old 5.25" drive. 🙁

    If I do find it, I'll make it available.

  • Geoff says:

    I had the original DOS PC game of #1, I didn't have a Nintendo, so for me, that was as good as it got. I remember the ill-fated jump quite well, as not only did I waste several days of my youth pouring over it but it pretty much ruined a few days with me seething in anger over not being able to progress in the game. For the longest time I thought it was due to the touch sensitivity of my joystick at the time, but it's good to see that there was an actual bug. I did make the jump on a couple of occasions, though I am not proud to say so, as I attempted it no less than about 5,000 times, sitting, angry in front of the screen hoping against hope that "next time for sure". As I remember I did make that first jump a couple of times, but even with saving it right then and there, there were 2 more right after it that were equally impossible. Once your Turtle hit that water you were dead and gone, so trying after that point became a fools errand.

    Eventually I gave up, angered and annoyed and eventually I got the ROM and passed that jump in one try, and proceeded to finally beat the game about 10 years after wasting my days with that terrible DOS game.

    I remember a friend of mine and his buddy watching me try to play the NES version and them mocking me as I had a lot of trouble adjusting to the differences in the game. My pal stuck up for me and said it was different on my cpu, but his jerky rich-boy friend insisted they were 'exactly the same' and I was deemed a dork for not being very good at it after playing for so long. That kid was a dink.

  • John says:

    I remember that bloody jump too. Never occurred to my 10 year-old brain that it may have been inpossible as they didn't playtest it. I also remember a NES owning friend pointing out how ropey my PC version of TMNT looked. I guess I was just grateful for ANY ports of games back then, in the early days of PC gaming (wouldn't have expect a decent arcade port in a milliion years).

    Thinking about it, I had very similar semi-disappointed memories of Ocean's Robocop PC effort too...

  • Damien says:

    I had the MS-DOS version of the original Turtles game... and 12 year old me played the game, and finished it (!!!) on our old Amstrad PPC 640 on the CGA monitor we had for it!
    I doubt I could do that now, but I'd love to give it a try 😀

  • Bobby says:

    Not so much now but in the past when Konami, Capcom and so on released a game to be published on a non-japanese console they would often hand over parts of the game but not the whole thing, in order for the foreign developer to create their version. This would result in poor game mechanics (in some cases a completely different engine - street fighter II on any non japanese console or computer is a prime example, just look at the sharp 68000x version - this is a PC after all but worked on by capcom themselves... resulting in a very accurate port of the arcade). My guess on why the graphics were re-done is that Konami didn't release the originals to the foreign developer, perhaps a few map layouts and the basic engine of the game. No graphics or music. This would explain why the stretched out map and the resulting greater distances or gaps have not been compensated for in the movement of your characters.
    Holding back graphics and sound and keeping them for domestic consoles does make sense - more domestic console sales = better economic contribution toward Japan by Japanese companies.

  • Jared says:

    Thanks for the review about TMNT for DOS. I've spent the last 20 years frustrated that I could never make it past that jump in the sewer in level 3. I never knew about the cheats until now, but that would have been very helpful.

    • Wes says:

      Thank you for commenting! I'm very glad to know that, after enduring 20 years of frustration, you'll finally be able to move forward in life knowing that there was nothing you could have done to complete that leap. 😉

  • Olly says:

    Awesome article - I too got stuck on that very jump myself back in the day, although as someone else mentioned there was another version where this didn't occur. So bizarre to think they wouldn't test the game! Anyhoo, fantastic article. Unsure if you'll even read this actually, given you wrote this six years ago.

  • Hooman says:

    I do remember that crazy impossible jump. It was, in fact, possible, but required an insanely perfect timing, insane luck, and maybe a trick of a slow or fast CPU so that the timing between keys could actually work out. A friend of mine who only had the PC version managed to finish the game but it was clearly way, way more difficult (and altogether unpleasant to play) than the NES version. I didn't bother with it, having the NES version which was much more playable.

    • Hooman says:

      * At least I seem to recall he was able to clear the jump, but I can't remember for sure. I do remember is it was pretty absurd.

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