Franchise Player: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

We take a look back at the characters and events that have made Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles one of the longest running gaming franchises.

There are few properties that are better suited for video games than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. After all, in what other universe can you find giant, wisecracking turtles (and their giant rat leader, no less) fighting an ancient clan of ninjas headed by an even more powerful ninja who is often assisted by a talking brain that sits inside of a robot? It's all pretty crazy, and since its birth in the realm of comic books, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has spawned all sorts of cartoons, movies, toys, and numerous video games--some great and some not so great. In the midst of that growth, it has become even crazier, introducing more mutants and more characters. We're going to break it all down and explain the TMNT universe by taking a look at some of the characters that will be appearing in the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash-Up for the Wii (and marking the release of Turtles in Time Re-Shelled on XBLA). Then, we'll cap it off with a look back at some of the best TMNT games of years past, so jump down into the sewers and join us for a look at the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The Characters

Leonardo

Favorite Color:
Blue
Weapon of choice:
Dual Katana
What He Does:
Leads

Often regarded as the leader of the turtles, Leonardo keeps a level head in most situations and has a knack for using swords without actually stabbing anyone--except maybe a foot soldier here and there. Without his or Master Splinter's direction, the turtles would probably turn into a bunch of no-good ruffians, eating pizza all day instead of patrolling the city to fight crime and thwart Shredder and his goons.

Donatello

Favorite color:
Purple
Weapon of Choice:
Bo
What He Does:
Machines

Every group of mutants has its designated smarty-pants--Donatello is the resident genius of the turtles. In fact, Donatello is usually the one getting the turtle team out of a jam by using his massive turtle brainpower to overcome technological traps. But he wasn't always this way. In the original comic, Donatello hits one of Shredder's own grenades back at him with his bo and kills him, showing that Don can also fight with the best of them.

Raphael

Favorite Color:
Red
Weapon of Choice:
Dual Sais
What He Does:
Be Rude, But Cool

Oh Raphael, why must you be so hotheaded? There's no doubt that Raphael is one of the strongest turtles when it comes to sheer fighting ability, but his lack of patience and constant need to prove himself gets him in plenty of trouble--and not just with enemies, but with the rest of the turtles as well.

Michelangelo

Favorite Color:
Orange
Weapon of Choice:
Nunchaku
What He Does:
Party

It's impossible to hate Michelangelo. Go ahead, try it. Try hating him. See? It's impossible. Michelangelo is the fun-loving turtle who would rather spend his time eating, skating, and partying than fighting. And because of his general demeanor, Michelangelo is often targeted as one of the precursors to the whole extreme-sports, talking-animals-that-sound-like-surfers phenomenon in the early 1990s.

Splinter

Weapon of Choice:
Cane
What He Does:
Gives Turtles Guidance
What's His Deal:
He Is a Radical Rat

Remember the scene in the original TMNT movie where Splinter was practicing ninjitsu in his cage before seeing his master get murdered? It looked pretty terrible (why couldn't they just use a real ninja rat?), but it is more in line with his origin story, which was later changed for the cartoon. In that universe, Splinter and his master, Hamato Yoshi, were the same character and he later transformed into a rat after finding the turtles in the sewer.

April O'Neil

Weapon of Choice:
Words/Swords
What She Does:
Reports/Sells Antiques
What's Her Deal:
Good At Being Kidnapped

In the cartoons and movies, April is a news reporter and one of the first humans to find out about the turtles and befriend them. In the comics, she was originally the assistant to Baxter Stockman, a scientist who invents the robotic mousers. In either version, April is constantly getting into trouble, whether it involves being kidnapped or simply being attacked by Stockman who blames April for his problems.

Casey Jones

Weapon of Choice:
Sports Equipment
What He Does:
Violence
What's His Deal:
His Parents Never Loved Him

It's no coincidence that the first time Casey (a former athlete) appears on the scene in the turtle universe, he is immersed in a confrontation with Raphael--both characters have problems with their tempers. But whereas Raphael is constantly working to improve his anger management issues, Casey has the tendency to let his get the best of him at the worst moments.

Shredder

Weapon of Choice:
His Spiky Bits
What He Does:
Evil
What's His Deal:
Blames Turtles for Everything

Let's forget for a second that the turtles' worst enemy was, indeed, their worst enemy. Shredder--leader of The Foot Clan--was actually killed by the turtles in the comics, but by using some odd methods (worms that eat flesh, really), Shredder was cloned and ultimately resurrected. In the first cartoon series, Shredder's more of a Cobra Commander--always coming up with a grand plan that works for about 15 minutes until it fails horribly.

What are your favorite Turtle moments? Drop us a line!

Highlights: The Turtles' Best Games

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Arcade, 1989)

The very first TMNT arcade game was popular due in large part to its four-player multiplayer support--a trademark of most of Konami's arcade games at the time. The fact that it looked similar to the immensely popular cartoon didn't hurt either. Unfortunately, many ports of this game (including the XBLA version) have some unwanted changes made to them, whether it's a truncated intro or different music.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time (SNES, 1992)

Perhaps the best of all the TMNT games, Turtles in Time on the SNES took the groundwork laid by the arcade version and improved upon it by tweaking the gameplay (adding new types of attacks). It also added fun, new levels, as well as additional bosses. Of course, it didn't support four players like its arcade counterpart, but it was superior in just about every other way.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist (Genesis, 1992)

Konami tried to create an entirely new game with Hyper Stone Heist, but it ended up using many of the same bosses from Turtles in Time. Hyper Stone Heist featured levels that were similar to those from the original arcade game, as well as Turtles in Time, but they were remixed a bit. It's not the best TMNT game, but it's still fun.

TMNT (GBA, 2007)

If there's any sort of spiritual successor to the arcade games, this is it. TMNT follows the same basic formula as its predecessors, allowing you to select from one of the four turtles before venturing into the streets to beat up thugs. The game also features an experience system to level up your attacks, and while it doesn't have a multiplayer option, TMNT tries to replicate it with a helper option that lets you call in another turtle to briefly aid you in a fight.

Turtles Fun Facts

  • The Metal Gear Connection

    In the original cartoon, Leonardo is voiced by Cam Clarke, who would go on to provide the voice for Liquid Snake in the Metal Gear Solid series.

  • The Comic Book Connection

    The Foot Clan of faceless ninjas is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the comic-book ninja clan known as The Hand from Marvel's Daredevil comics.

  • The Sci-Fi Comic Book Connection

    When he's not being the co-creator of TMNT, comic artist Kevin Eastman owns and publishes Heavy Metal magazine.

  • Bandanas

    Originally, the turtles didn't wear different-colored bandanas. The colors were added later so that kids would be able to distinguish one turtle from another just by looking at them.

  • A New World's Record!

    In 2008, the students of Rutgers University in New Jersey set a new world's record for "largest gathering of people dressed as ninja turtles." 786 students, to be exact. Their parents must have been proud.

  • Creation

    Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird stumbled upon the idea for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The two were randomly drawing characters when Kevin asked, "What if Bruce Lee was a turtle?" Kevin then came up with an image of a single turtle standing in a kung-fu pose. After some discussion of what to call it, the two arrived at teenage mutant ninja turtle, and so the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (or at least one of them) were born.

What are your favorite Turtle moments? Drop us a line!

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Discussion

130 comments
IncrediBurch
IncrediBurch

Why isn't the TMNT Tournament Fighters game mentioned? The SNES version specifically. It was really fun and had a bunch of characters from the comics. If anything, Smash-Up is a spiritual successor.

jjjrrr11211
jjjrrr11211

TMNT: Manhattan Project was the best ninja turtles game back then.I used to kick the super shredder ass all the time!

russell452
russell452

tmnt are awesome shredder is the man

K-FRABZ123
K-FRABZ123

only eight players? thats wrong for a fighting game.

cazymonkey
cazymonkey

Shredder looks the coolest and it looks like super smash bros. brawl.

rynmls
rynmls

favorite cartoon in the 90's

ScarfacePro
ScarfacePro

Hey! What about the NES games ??? For me the best TMNT game was TMNT: Manhattan Project, it was the greatest game ever in my chilhood !!! Anybody remember that game ???

ali-009
ali-009

mike is the best,best wepon,best sense of humor,he is just a one in a million and whatever you do you can't him!!!!!!!

SkidRow18
SkidRow18

nice...my favourite turtles is donatello

philosophy666
philosophy666

lol Back in the days Michelangelo was my favourite among others lol but true

shinigami50
shinigami50

I remember playing TMNT on SuperNintendo back in the old days. Man i loved those games.

BATTOSAI76
BATTOSAI76

Man, remember TMNT IV Turtles in Time, that game was boss.

Jinksaw12
Jinksaw12

TMNT 4 EVER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Psi-tan
Psi-tan

The new TNMT is the best of the bunch, atleast u get to see some skillful fighting and strong storytelling including aliens and ancient warrior races, even "Brain" was remade in the new TMNT where he and Shredder are actually the same person! Its new remake puts it in the level of japanese animes in terms of story (for me anyway)! Has anyone seen the new episodes where the turtles fight in an alien tournament in another universe for the title of the ultimate fighter of the universe? Tell me that's not good fighting, try to convince me the old TMNT is better than that! Best thing they ever did was remove those retarded Rocksteady and Beebop!! yeck!!

GazaAli
GazaAli

the old TMNT is the the real thing,the renewal is crap.

playstation_dad
playstation_dad

the orig arcade game was awsome. I spent so much money on that machine. Even the raphael was my fave it had to be donatello that was the best character or leonardo to play on the actual game!

Trar
Trar

Caramba, siempre he sido un Fan de esta franquicia....buena información... No he leido el comic... tendré que buscarla! He jugado la version arcade, las versiones para NES, SNES (no me gusta tournament figther), y la de Genesis He visto todas las pelis!.... incluso la animada en 3d... Otra vez! Esta ha sido buena información.... Gracias... Caramba, Always I've been a Fan of this Franchise... good information... I've don't read the comic... I've played the Arcade version game, NES, SNES (I dislike the Tournament Edition game), and Genesis console games... I've seen all the movies... even the 3d graphics movie! Again... This is have been good information... Thanks

GeigerdolylWodd
GeigerdolylWodd

Shredder--leader of The Foot Clan--was actually killed by the turtles in the comics, but by using some odd methods (worms that eat flesh, really), Shredder was cloned and ultimately resurrected.

So shredder's the precursor to Blade of the Immortal? What with the worms? Didn't know that.

GeigerdolylWodd
GeigerdolylWodd

I've played the trial version of Turtles in Time re-shelled? and I can confirm it is closer to the real arcade game than to the port they made to home consoles way back when.

I've played both the arcade version of Turtles in time and the home console version, well the SNES one atleast.

They even have the spawn/respawn animations in place. The shift to 3d is great cause the lighting (both the natural moonlight and the street lights) seem to naturally bounce off the turtles and the foot clan Baxter Stockman was questionable though.

I only have one question is there really 4 player simultaneous support both local and over xbox live? I saw both as options but obviously don't have four people to try it out with can someone confirm it?

Do you think that EA and Rare will ever port the arcade version of BattleToads over?

@Helmhead You mean the original home console Ninendo Konami TMNT game? It was more like Legend of Zelda II: Link's Adventure You know? How it was singleplayer and you'd have to walk around in a separate overview map but there were sections where there was side scrolling action.

My cousin had that I guess he beat it. But I was never good enough to do so. I had this green handheld game and watch take on the Ninja Turtles does anyone remember that?

I think you always had to play as Leonardo and you had to jump over these bombs I don't remember the name of it.

Did anyone like the original TMNT III movie?

worthyofnote
worthyofnote

Turtles ftw. If ever I was a fanboy, it would be because of the TMNTs. When I was a kid everything I owned was turtles. Toys and movies, clothes, bed sheets, video games; you name it I probably had it. Good times.

corbnation
corbnation

My favorite part of TMNT aside from the fact that I fiend for pizza too, was Krang's voice. That still gets laughs around the office.

XxxTwisted1xxX
XxxTwisted1xxX

TMNT will never die I loved them as a kid and still do and now my three kids like them they think the old school 1985 arcade and turtles in time are great and they love the old movies and the new animated TMNT

xraystar
xraystar

@ Helmhead I totally agree with you! I wonder how many hours I spent trying to beat that game as a kid! And I did eventually finish it! I remember how bad-a$$ the soundtrack to Shredder's Boss fight was. You know how hard that game was for a little guy - only four lives, come on!!! @ wwonk666 yeah, the remake isn't as great as I had hoped it to be, but the game isn't a total waste - since it was only 800 points (not $15 like you said).

Helmhead
Helmhead

No love for the original NES "harder-than-anything-geared-at-kids-should-ever-be" version? I must have spent hours swimming through that damn water and disarming those bombs. I think I made it to Mecha-Turtle ONCE and put the game away for good when I lost... Ahh memories - remember the AWESOME noise it made when Donatello used his staff in the NES version.. THUD!

noviart
noviart

yep classics never die ??????

kemar7856
kemar7856

i only owned the first nes one and it was bad never past world 3

kemar7856
kemar7856

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Pablo-Kun
Pablo-Kun

tmnt used to be great back days ! and i really liked one of the games in ps2 ! the best turtle is: MICKEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEY :p

raahsnavj
raahsnavj

What no Krang? Come on, he was the whole mastermind of the ooze and what not that started the whole thing! well, at least in the version I liked he did...

Pete5506
Pete5506

TMNT was good stuff back in the day

reubthadude
reubthadude

COWABUNGA!!! I never knew what the hell that meant but I ALWAYS thought it was great! I still love TMNT to this day...Turtles in Time had to have been MY favorite...great game...Tournament Fighters for Genesis was a smooth DUD but it was still fun to play at times..it was jsut so cheap and any game with a character name sissyfus HAS to be bad ha-ha.

DEWMAN08
DEWMAN08

I remember my orange cast coming as an inspiration of michelangelo when I was 3 when i broke my arm.

NightRain
NightRain

I still love TMNT today. They were my childhood heroes.

simonsworld
simonsworld

oh yes i remember being addicted to the turtles etc, games,action figures and of course the cartoon its self, cowabunga!

music_maniac1965
music_maniac1965

[quote]StopFear Posted Aug 5, 2009 9:15 pm GMT what about turltles tournament fighters? It was a good game.[/quote] yeah, i agree ! it kind of played like street fighter 2, but with turtle graphics. i have most of the old cartoon show on VHS. i wonder if i could get it on blu ray or DVD.... that would be great. and i also want the 1st turtle movie on dvd, as i have the second one allready :-D

dylan417
dylan417

Oh the memories in the early 90s when I was like 7, I watched the cartoons, movies, and played with the action figures.