Flashback Fridays: "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game."
Michael Bay has gone to the retro well once more to defile a beloved toy property/cartoon series, and yes they were also originally comics. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles began gestating in the toxic ooze of underground comics and ended up catching the eye of kids and marketers of the mainstream surface dwellers, becoming one of the most unlikely booming franchises of the late 80s and early 90s, possibly rivaled only by the decade's craze for dinosaurs. With such a property at that time, and even today, that could only mean one thing, a cash in video game title! The morphing of the beloved lethal Turtles into video game figures would go hand in hand with the first series of film adaptations.
Usually when companies make a cash in video game for a property, the last thing on their mind is quality, especially in the post-Star Wars late 80s when all that mattered was the property title. Anyone remember E.T. the video game? Exactly.
Konami's four player arcade game Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game became an unwitting staple of multiplayer arcade games of its time along with The Simpsons and X-Men. The arcade game became so successful, it was reformatted for two-player Nintendo Entertainment System consoles to allow home players to take control of leader Leonardo, machinesmith Donatello, cool but rude Raphael, or party dude Michaelangelo to save news reporter April, each with their signature weapons. A far lesser game already existed for the NES, so it was released as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II.
It was the rare game that made acceptable use of product placement, with Pizza Hut providing your turtles health power-ups in the form of pizza boxes ensuring you can tackle the legions of Foot ninjas, robots, and assorted anthropomorphic animal bosses, and of course their evil leader Shredder.
The gameplay itself was rudimentary, a button-masher if there ever was. The fun came in playing the beloved characters in a setting and difficulty level that changed enough to stay fresh until you reached the end, or like me and my perennial lack of gaming skill, you died countless different ways in the first three levels. Darn those falling barrels!
The formula proved so successful that game developer Rare created a rival in Battletoads, making the game notoriously difficult in attempt to outdo TMNT. Among hardcore gamers, Battletoads was successful, but TMNT won with the general public, thanks to its cemented franchise.