Look Back at History: Remembering the 1989 Classic TMNT Arcade

When Nintendo came out with the NES, the arcade was still a thriving business opportunity and all of the home consoles prior to Nintendo couldn’t match the quality of the arcade machines. Looks awful I know. Bad quality of games combined with shameless knockoffs lead to the video game crash of 1983. Don’t believe me, just look at Pac-man on the Atari 2600. See what I mean.

Anyway when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series debuted in 1987, it was a complete success. Two years later TMNT the arcade game was released by Konami. You may know Konami for the Konami code which made games back in the day much easier, giving the user an extra 30 lives. Contra anyone? God kids these days have it so easy, they never had to work as hard to beat a game like we’ve had to. Shaking my head.   

Some cool features that were part of the game was that it was 4 player co-op. You could also move the turtle you were controlling eight directional instead of the simplistic 4 way movement. The game would eventually port over to other home consoles. The late 80’s signified the end of a business model that enjoyed temporary success, but as home consoles became more sophisticated users didn’t think it was worth spending a quarter at a time to play a single game.

TMNT 1989 Arcade Game

The first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game was as action packed like the series. Shredder kidnaps both April O’Neil and master Splinter and it’s up to the Turtles to save the day. The player chooses to control one of the four Ninja Turtles and fighting enemies along the way to rescuing their friends. Except the Japan version is a little different which is only 2 person compatible. Come on Japan! What the hell!


When observing the gameplay of the arcade game, its a classic  beat ’em up action filled game. The controls are simple, its all moving, jumping and attacking. The game is a lot more in depth than I just explained. You can perform combination attacks by pressing buttons in sequence (i.e. pressing attack while in the air from jumping). Foot soldiers can be defeated by throwing them around. Turtles can also jump from walls in certain areas. Slamming enemies into a wall is an easy way to kill them. Another method enemies is by attacking nearby objects such as fire hydrant and exploding oil drums. The arcade version included parts of the animated series by showing the opening of the cartoon show as well as playing the theme song. Attract mode was destined to look like a pre-recorded demo to catch the eyes of passerby’s in the arcades. Turtles battle the Foot Clan and Roadkill Rodney robots who restrain them while also depleting their health. The bosses you fight in the game include Rocksteady and Bebop, Baxter Stockman, Granitor, General Traag, Krang, and Shredder.

Turtle's Special Abilities

Leonardo – The most balanced one that you can control.

Donatello – Longer range but slower attacks

Michelangelo, Raphael – Both have faster attacks but shorter range.

Raphael can perform a ground kick while rolling. The other Turtles can perform a jump attack with their weapons


TMNT Game Releases



Released as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in North America and Oceania. Released as Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles in Europe. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Super Kame Ninja in Japan.



NES version came out in 1990 as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game two new levels (the first part of Scene 3 and all of Scene 6) Two new bosses: Tora and Shogun In the parking garage stage, for the second half of Scene 3, replaces the arcade version battle with Bebop and Rocksteady. Instead there is a battle against the mutated fly form of Baxter Stockman. There were plans to bring the NES TMNT arcade to the Wii Virtual Console but it didn’t fall through and it died right there without no word mentioned. NES version was sponsored by Pizza Giant’s logos Instruction carried a coupon for one free personal pie Coupon expired December 31, 1991. So if you still have your coupon you are straight out of luck dawg. The 25th best NES game all time according to GamesRadar.



Released by Image Works. Probe Software ported the game overs ZX Spectrum, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, PC and Commodore 64 got their own port in 1991. Was released to the European market as Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles: The Coin Op


Xbox Live Arcade

Released by Ubisoft. Ported by Digital Eclipse. TMNT 1989 Classic Arcade was released on March 14, 2007. It cost 400 Microsoft points and 2-4 player Co-op was possible.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 Battle Nexus (TMNT 2 BN) Screenshot 1

TMNT 2: Battle Nexus

Arcade version was a secret easter egg in the Xbox, PS2, and GameCube version. Port of the original arcade version. Different music track than the original. You can find it in Stage 9-1 by searching for an antique lamp which is actually the arcade machine.

Arcade Bosses

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