The spark of genius that is traversing the world of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the NES

TMNT on the NES is an infamous title featuring obtuse jumps, oddball enemy design & an immense level of difficulty. It was one of the first titles to get eviscerated by the newly minted Angry Video Game Nerd, who pretty much shit on everything about the game.

I can sympathize, because when you put a nerd on camera with the title of “Mad”, “Angry”, “Jaded”, etc. by his name, venom will spew, especially if it’s one of his or her first times on said camera to show the internet who’s boss when it comes to decades old NES games. He later came back to admit it was probably a harsher criticism than the game deserved and I would agree. I never thought any of the anger was all that warranted, especially without at least praising some of the unique aspects of the game.

I played TMNT on my friend’s NES and I read the manual back and forth, obsessing over every nuance of the bizarre character designs, the terrible jumps and immense difficulty to the point where I couldn’t help but come back for more. Hell I liked the game more than Turtles 2, an admittedly superior game (in some respects) despite spending one Saturday at a friend’s house finishing it with my best friend at the time.

So needless to say, I like TMNT on the NES.

While looking at the over world for some inspiration for my current title, Treachery in Beatdown City, I stumbled on a bit of brilliance that I had never really thought about before, and it may very well be fleeting and accidental at that, but it was fucking cool.

Traversal of the first part of the game world gives the player two interesting choices on an otherwise linear path at all times. Each choice is essentially a fork in the road giving the player the option to walk along the top down over world or enter into a building or sewer. These splits aren’t presented in the usual fashion as there are no set guides telling the player he has to pick one or the other. Regardless of what the player picks, both choices come with appropriate risk/reward.