Saturday 19 December 2020

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project (NES review)

Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami
Released: 1992

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project is a beat-em-up that was only released in Japan and North America.

The objective is to rescue April O'Neil and reclaim the island of Manhattan from Shredder. It supports 1-2 players (co-op) and all four turtles have the same basic moves which include weapon-based attacks and flying kicks; however, at the expense of one energy unit, powerful special attacks can be used that do serious damage to enemies. The stage locales are a visual treat with some gorgeous scenic backdrops interspersed with more gritty, industrial environments. It's clear that the Streets of Rage series was an inspiration to the developers, as Stage 3 takes place on a treacherous bridge where you can throw enemies off the sides (infinitely enjoyable!) and Stage 7 is a typical elevator ride. Compared to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game (1990, NES), it's initially disappointing that you're no longer armed with a powerful (usually) one-hit kill attack (achieved by pressing A & B together) that's independent from your life bar. However, the best part of this game's special moves is that they don't deplete your life bar if you're down to your final unit of energy; it's a genius idea to help you turn the tables and even up the odds. There's lots of different enemies on offer and it's great that you can adjust your jump on every axis while in mid-air. I also like how you can choose any turtle after losing a life (rather than being tied to them), as it opens up opportunities to tackle things in new ways. There are times of heavy slowdown though, particularly Stage 2's water scene where there's clearly too many sprites on display. Also, the game doesn't take many chances and there's not much here you haven't seen before.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project is a solid beat-em-up with precision controls, enjoyable combat and aesthetically pleasing scenic backdrops that lure you into the action. There's no denying that it does play it rather safe, but as long as you keep your expectations in check there's lots of fun to be had.

Random trivia: Bizarrely, the box art features Triceraton enemies, even though none appear in the game!

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