Podzilla 1985

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

TMNT for NES and How it Broke My Childhood

I had this great opening paragraph about how my childhood was probably better than your childhood when it came to cartoons and video games.

Seriously, I had the spread. I was name dropping Darkwing Duck and Super Dave and the NES and all kinds of crazy shit that turned me into the well adjusted handsome young gentleman you don't see before you. I was going to get weird with it and actually cite how and why your childhood sucked and how the late 80's and early 90's were the greatest era of all time. Then I was going to call you a bitch and steal your lunch money.

But I scrapped all of that. I took everything I wrote and, much like God wiped out the Earth with a little bit of rain, I deleted it with extreme prejudice. You know why? Because I like some of the new stuff out. Not all of it, or even a good amount of it, but some of it. I definitely like the new Ninja Turtles show on Nick. This mentioning of turtles will come full circle a paragraphs from now.

Plus, going back and watching some of the old stuff I used to think was so awesome is just plain depressing. I used to love the Mario cartoon and it's a goddamn embarrassment, except for how wicked cool Lou Albano and Danny Wells are. In fact, most of the cartoons that I say are light years ahead of the Sponge Bob crap that our kids get force fed now are just plain terrible and painful to watch. I have all these DVD box sets of classic cartoons which I can't even make myself watch because they're so corny and obnoxious.

Except for Jaleel White in the Sonic cartoon. That brother was way past cool.

It's all nostalgia. As long as you remember something in a good light you're fine. Hold on to your lies for as long as you can. Just don't go back and try to relive those glory days because you'll end up a broken, broken man.

It's not just cartoons either. Before, during, and after my glory days at GameStop I would preach about how awesome the NES was and how Nintendo had the greatest consoles of all time. I stand by that statement. Long before online connectivity, DLC, and your fancy schmancy third dimension graphics were commonplace, I was a wizard on the Nintendo Entertainment System. They even made a movie about me going to a huge tournament, where I used my Power Glove to play Mario Brothers 3.

I think that happened, anyway.

Looking back after decades of changes in the industry has definitely shattered the rose colored glasses. I still love the system I grew up on, but  I can openly admit not everything holds up well. I'm not talking graphics or sound or design, most Nintendo games were pretty solid in those respects. But ask anyone that grew up with the NES what they remember most about the system and they'll probably give you the same answer I will - the difficulty. Before From Software made you cry with its Souls series of games, the NES was bitch slapping children's self worth like no other ever could.

And that brings me to the game I want to talk about today - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. That's another circle completed.

If you've ever played a Ninja Turtles game you already know what to expect. Before the 2000's cartoon churned out awful turtle game after awful turtle game, the shell backs were known for catchy music, beat em up action, and multiplayer goodness.

Well, except for the very first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game on the NES. Holy shit was that game the dark horse of the Ninja stable. Whoah, nice wordplay! *High five*

I won't bore you with the details that every other reviewer has gone over a thousand times in length. Let me just shorten it by saying the game was ungodly hard. There you go, that's the secret of the TMNT game. I just saved you hours of watching squeaky voiced gaming nerd videos to find out why the game is so infamous.

Yeah, the game was a bitch to play. I'm surprised I got as far as I did as a kid, which honestly wasn't very. You can breeze through the first act pretty quickly, especially if you save Donatello for the final boss. You'll quickly discover that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles might have been one of the first games that used a tier list, as Donatello is the Cadillac of ninjas. Leonardo is some kind of hybrid that means well but isn't quite as cool. Raphael and Michelangelo might as well have been renamed Red Fodder and Orange Fodder because their short range weapons are almost completely useless. Raph didn't have any of the attitude he was well known for in the series, here he was just the guy you sent in to save the good turtles for the boss.

And, by the way, God forbid you do lose health and try to play through with that turtle. That noise the game makes when you're low on health may be the single most annoying sound that has ever been created, and I'm including Rosie Perez's voice and the alarm clock that goes every morning reminding me that real life is ready to fuck me in the ass again.

Kotaku is right on the money here.
But unless you suck completely at every aspect of life, or you were lucky like me, you won't hear the wails of a thousand dead angels until the second level. If you've ever researched this game at all you already know about the underwater level. It is probably one of the hardest things you will ever do in a video game, and let no one discourage you and say the difficulty was overrated. No, this level is damn near impossible. Forget Blight Town and Ninja Gaiden, this is what you want someone to play if you're trying to ween them off of gaming for good.

I can't remember how long it took me to beat this level, but it single handedly destroyed all desire to finish this game. When I did beat it there was no sense of accomplishment or the feeling that I had defeated my greatest rival. I was broken and depressed by the end of it and I just wanted my adventures with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to end. I made a level or two past this point, but the damage was so bad to my psyche that I gave up not long after and moved on to the admittedly superior Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2.

I always regretted never finishing the Turtles game for the NES. It was a black eye on a pretty good gaming career. So I recently went back and, with all of the experience I've accrued since then, decided to face my demons one more time. This time...I would be ready.

And I still can't beat this fucking game. Fuck this game! Goddamn fucking Turtles!!! I'm selling all of my gaming gear to GameStop and I'm going to buy a Little Caesers pizza with the 7 bucks they give me for it.


But let's end this on a positive note. For all the trouble this game has given me I still love it. I love the box art used a style similar to the original comics and even has the turtles all wearing red. I like the music, the graphics were solid, and there's just something about my very first Ninja Turtle game that will always hold a special place in my heart.

Also, here's a picture of porn star April O'Neil cosplaying as...April O'Neil. How clever!

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