There are few things Dana Wessel loves more than old-school Nintendo games. Every week here at he takes a look back at a classic game to see how well it holds up in 2018 with a bit called ‘Remember That Game?’. Have a game you want to see him take on? You can tweet him or email him


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles


Nintendo Entertainment System

Release date:

June 1989




Konami Executive One: You know what’s hot with kids these days? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Konami Executive Two: You’re right! A video game starring the Turtles would be a no-brainer. Kids are going to love this game.

Konami Executive One: Absolutely. Every kid will want this game. So lets make it the hardest (expletive deleted) video game of all time.

Anybody who grew up playing the original Turtles game on NES knows exactly what I am talking about. Kids born in the 1980s still have nightmares over the dreaded underwater level* in this game. Early Nintendo games were always hard as hell, but this one just felt particularly cruel seeing as it was based on a children’s cartoon. They could have eased up juuuuust a bit.

*Nobody in the history of video games, especially early Nintendo games, has ever said, “Oh, good! An underwater level! This will be fun!” Mario, Turtles, Sonic…all trash.

Overall though, the game is pretty rad and does hold up. Turns out the underwater level is a bit easier as an adult (especially when playing on an emulator when you can save). Plus, it’s worth getting past that level so you can cruise around in the Turtle Van.  

I always loved that you could switch what Turtle you were on the fly. That made it great to just go straight kamikaze with Ralph and Mikey (and their worthless weapons) while saving Leo and Donnie. Master Splinter really has some explaining to do for the inconsistency in weapons he handed out to the Turtles. Why not let them all have swords? I guess that is a different topic for another day.

Overall, despite the fever-dreams I still have about the underwater level, I still really dig this game in 2018. Most licensed games back in the 1980s and ’90s were trash. Companies would just take a popular movie, cartoon, TV show, etc. and rush a crappy video game and roll in cash. There is actually some quality here, despite it being responsible for thousands of broken controllers back in the day.

I’ll never forget when my mom let me buy it at a garage sale as a kid (it even had the box and instructions!). I was like Charlie with a the golden ticket in Willy Wonka. Such great memories. That’s what classic gaming is all about.

Final score?

7 Turtle Vans out of 10.

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