Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project Review Rewind
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On 08/25/2012 at 12:00 PM by Matt McLennan
Want to know what the best TMNT game is? …It's still Turtles in Time, but this one is close!
Fans of TMNT and NES Konami games will find a lot to love in this late entry of the NES TMNT series, as long as you don’t mind graphical flicker and frame-rate issues.
TMNT III’s gameplay will be readily familiar to those who have played the other TMNT brawlers. For a quick refresher, imagine Final Fight but with a faster pace and instead of drug dealers and scantily clad transvestites you fight Foot Ninjas and a variety of robots, with an end-of-level boss to fight.
The overall gameplay is a much more fuller experience than TMNT II. While the basic premise remains the same (going through multiple scenes with different segments fighting enemies with a boss at the end), there are three core changes. For one, each Turtle has a unique special attack that costs health. It's simple enough to pull off by pushing ‘A’ and ‘B’ together.
Second, which I found very important to my overall experience, was the scoring system. Instead of the lame single-digit score from TMNT II is a score counter that can go up to the one hundred thousandth digit! Getting massive point bonuses depends on how you attack enemies, and how fast you completed the level after beating a boss.
A third difference is that the levels are much more dynamic. The story is that Shredder kidnapped April and lifted Manhattan Island into the sky, so the locales were made to fit that. From the beaches of Key West to a destroyed Manhattan Bridge, expect plenty of hazards and Foot Ninjas to pop out of nowhere.
As far as level length and design, they are heads above what TMNT II had to offer. While each level’s goal is overall the same (beat enemies, move forward, get to the boss), keeping you on your toes will be enemies coming out of unexpected places, death pits and hazards such as giant cannon balls coming out of nowhere. All levels past the first stage are split into two parts, so the game feels varied enough.
The first problem is one carried over from TMNT II: the Turtles themselves are not very differentiated. Granted, they each have a different special attack, but more variety wouldn’t have hurt. The game also suffers from slowdown when there are more than three enemies on the screen at once, which can cause reaction time to be fouled up. It's enough of a problem to get a star docked off the overall score.
Konami really went to work with the NES on this game. Aside from several Capcom games and Kirby’s Adventure, TMNT III is easily one of the most visually striking games on the legendary 8-bit console. The Turtles, enemies, bosses, and NPCs (April), are recognizable from their cartoon counterparts and are animated quite well; different hazards cause a very hilarious reaction, just like a cartoon.
As for the music, it is typical Konami flair: upbeat, addicting and mood-setting. Standout tunes like the opening level to Central Park’s theme will make you hum them long after the game is done. Sound effects-wise, Konami did a great job with using the NES sound chip to make not only some digitized voice clips, but sounds like clanging metal and explosions.
TMNT III: The Manhattan Project is an overall solid NES title and a fine entry in the TMNT game series of the 90s. While the visual flaws do sometimes cause problems with the gameplay, it is usually not too bad. If or when the game gets released for the Virtual Console service on Wii U, give it a try! You won’t be disappointed.
Now excuse me, April O’ Neil’s happy hour news is on.