Ever since the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles leapt from the comics and into the small screens of our childhood back in the late 1980s, there has been a veritable slew of TMNT video games for fans to get stuck into. From some classic arcade efforts to more recent entries that have sought to recreate the halcyon days of TMNT video games, our handy guide will break down all the TMNT games ranked, letting you know which TMNT video games do the most justice to those heroes in a half-shell.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Arguably the worst TMNT game ever released, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles attempted to cash in on the love of its newfound audience with a hybrid action adventure approach that combined top-down exploration with side-scrolling platforming and combat when it released on 8-bit console and 16-bit home computer platforms in 1989. The problem however, is that this take on everyone’s pizza gobbling ninja turtles was generously stuffed with unfair level design, less than satisfying combat, sluggish platforming and a ridiculous level of difficulty.
A bigger problem for parents at the time however was that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shared a very similar namesake with the much, much, much better TMNT: The Arcade Game which released at around the same point. Naturally, this resulted in plenty of excited young folk being bought the ‘latest’ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game for their birthday or the holidays only to be confronted with this abomination.
TMNT: Mutant Melee
Based off of the largely crummy 2003 TMNT animated television show, TMNT: Mutant Melee released for PS2, Xbox, Gamecube and PC back in 2005 and is just extravagantly terrible. Essentially an arena based fighter that tried to evoke the likes of Capcom’s superb Power Stone but seemingly failed to even capture the merest hint of that game’s lofty essence, TMNT: Mutant Melee had an utterly threadbare ‘adventure’ mode that was linked together by dreary and repetitive text based exposition and two multiplayer modes – a king of the hill and survival variant and that’s your lot. Deathly boring, poorly made and boasting toilet bowl production values, TMNT: Mutant Melee’s main claim to fame is that it is quite easily the second worst TMNT game ever made. Avoid like an asbestos-covered pizza.
TMNT: Mutants in Manhattan
Developed by PlatinumGames (yes, *that* PlatinumGames) for PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC, Mutants in Manhattan has the dubious distinction of not only being a highly derivative, poorly optimised and massively un-fun roaming brawler, but it also happens to be PlatinumGames biggest misfire in years. Sluggish, uninspiring and just downright unenjoyable, TMNT: Mutants in Manhattan cements its place as not just a stain on PlatinumGames’ usually lofty calibre of work, but also as one of the most enduringly bad TMNT games ever made. Bravo, I guess?
TMNT: Tournament Fighters
Effectively transplanting the one on one, two-dimensional scrappery of Street Fighter II into the realm of our half-shelled heroes, TMNT: Tournament Fighters might have borrowed an eyebrow raising amount of concepts from Capcom’s legendary fighter, but it also had a few neat tricks of its own too. Chief among these was that the game was much more accessible than Street Fighter II, with a streamlined control system that allows for special attacks to be pulled off with just a couple of button presses, while a special red ball power-up that appears during matches can also be used to turn the tide of proceedings. Oh and the SNES version of Tournament Fighters is the one you want, since the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive edition of the game has fewer moves and is much more sluggish than its Nintendo counterpart.
TMNT – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Developed by Ubisoft Montreal, releasing exclusively on the Game Boy Advance and based off of the 2007 movie of the same name, TMNT – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles re-imagined the events of that film as a side-scrolling brawler for Nintendo’s diminutive handheld. Filled with gorgeous sprite art and foot-tapping soundtracks, TMNT – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was both wildly better and different than the PS2, Xbox, Gamecube, PSP, Nintendo DS and PC versions of the same game, thanks to a dogged focus on super satisfying side-scrolling brawling action and the inclusion of neat features such as being able to summon other turtles for support during battles. Certainly one of the better TMNT games, TMNT – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles only misses out entering the upper echelon of the best TMNT games thanks to a lack of cooperative play.
TMNT: The Arcade Game
One of the most fondly remembered coin guzzlers of the late 1980s and early 1990s, TMNT: The Arcade Game was pretty much everything you wanted from a TMNT game. With its vividly colourful visuals, variety of accurate sound samples and a bop-worthy rendition of the theme song that masterfully mirrored its cartoon counterpart, it’s no surprise that TMNT: The Arcade Game gained so much attention all those years ago. More than that though, TMNT: The Arcade Game was basically TMNT meets Final Fight as it allowed players to choose from each of the four half-shelled heroes as they progressed from left to right, smashing up the Foot Clan before finally facing off with Shredder and the alien overlord known as a Krang. What’s not to like, eh?
TMNT: Turtles in Time
Building upon what Konami had wrought with TMNT: The Arcade Game, TMNT: Turtles in Time gives players more of what they loved from its 1989 predecessor, but this time console folks finally got a great game that ably matched its arcade equivalent, too. Exclusive to Nintendo’s SNES console in home markets, TMNT: Turtles in Time built upon its side-scrolling brawler predecessor by enabling players to slam enemies into one another while also permitting the use of a devastating power attack to even things up during busy scenes. Certainly one of the better TMNT games around, it would later be remade and ported to the PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles in 2009 under the guise of TMNT: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled with gorgeous new 2.5D visuals and extra modes. Annoyingly though, this seemingly all-singing, all-dancing remake of TMNT: Turtles in Time didn’t include any of the original levels seen in the SNES version of the game which, y’know, wasn’t ideal.
TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge
TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge takes the side-scrolling arcade brawler concept that the 1989 arcade original game came up with and brilliantly expands on it in every meaningful way you can possibly imagine. Developed by Tribute Games, TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge simply fires on every cylinder, with opulent sprite work, charm infused animations and backgrounds that do a tremendous job of evoking the source material, paired with six-player cooperative play, super responsive brawling gameplay and the sort of bouncy, boundless energy that any game based on the heroes in a half-shell should ooze from every green pore. Absolutely essential for both fans of TMNT and side-scrolling brawlers alike, TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge sits at the zenith of the best TMNT games and is quite simply unmissable unless you have a tragic aversion to fun.