Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) was one of the most popular properties of the nineties thanks to a smash hit cartoon show. The video game series came straight after that and retained all the fun weirdness of the original show.
The games started with side-scrollers and moved on to “beat ’em ups” and action-adventure types.
These were a lot of fun to play, partly because of the free-flowing action, and partly because they had all the quirky charm of the show.
In this article we are ranking the top 10 TMNT games after playing many of the editions in this series, so keep reading till the end to check out our favorite.
Table of Contents
#10 – TMNT
This game came out for Nintendo and was notorious for being incredibly difficult to play.
The underwater level in particular had electric grass which made getting past it hard.
It was just frustrating to die over and over again on the same parts. It was also frustrating to know where to go half the time when you were in the overworld. Driving around in circles happened a lot.
You could also only play 2 different turtles, including Leonardo and Donatello. Despite all of this, TMNT was very popular when it came out, and it started the whole series.
The game did have its fun parts though with throwing boomerangs and attacking stuff with your sword or staff.
#9 – TMNT: Tournament Fighter
Unlike other games in the series, this game, which came out for NES, was in the fighter genre of games instead of a more action approach.
In this game, you choose characters from the TMNT universe to play against other characters in a one-on-one duel that goes sideways across the screen in a traditional fighter format.
If you play the single-player mode, you choose one of the four turtles, and then you have to fight other turtles to choose who’s going to fight against other characters in contests like Casey Jones. Hothead, or Shredder himself, later on.
There was also an SNES version released later. These games were inspired by the Street Fighter series based on how they function. Still, it’s fun to play as the TMNT characters specifically.
#8 – TMNT: Smash-Up
As a more modern game, Smash Up is also a fighting game for Wii and PS2. The game type is technically called a 2.5D game because it shows the illusion of 3D before that became more available.
Each player has unique moves that correspond to the series, and it’s a nice upgrade from Tournament fighter for more modern consoles.
It has a similar style to Super Smash Brothers, so people who like that series will be more likely to like the style of this kind of game.
Just like in that series, there are a lot of fun items to use to change the tide of fights, from pizza that restores life, to temporarily getting the ability to breathe fire. It’s an enjoyable game to play in the turtle style.
#7 – TMNT 2007
This game was based on an animated movie that came out at the time. It came out for Wii, PS2, Windows, and more.
The game is more of an action-adventure type than a platformer. You’ve got 15 story levels to make it through, and you can also unlock a good number of unlockable levels too.
It was made similar to the game Prince of Persia, so there are a lot of acrobatic elements.
Each player has unique fighting skills and some special abilities. You have to use the other players’ abilities to make it through the levels, which are all single player.
In terms of plot, the story is using the flashback conceit, so it’s something Splinter and the Turtles are remembering.
The acrobatic elements are interesting to use, since these are supposed to be ninjas, after all, even if they are turtles too.
#6 – TMNT 3: Mutant Nightmare
This game came out for PS2, Xbox, Game Cube, and DS. It was based on the 2003 version of the TMNT series.
You have four different “episodes” that make up the different parts of the game. The plot has to do with fighting off space invaders.
The genre is a more straightforward beat ’em up game, and it’s sheer joy to have this freedom to just move around and smash everything.
It has more of an arcade-style but with better graphics. You can also play with others making for some fun combinations as some of the turtles can team up for combos.
#5 – TMNT 2: Battle Nexus
Also based on the 2003 animated series, this game is one of the better versions of the games based on this series with its 4 main turtles that can play, along with backup characters.
This was important because it allowed you to sometimes play as something other than a turtle so it could draw into the lore of the series a bit deeper.
This game was also a beat em up style option for Game Cube, but it had some platformer elements for puzzles to figure out as well.
#4 – TMNT: The Hyperstone Heist
Hyperstone Heist came out exclusively for Sega Genesis but was ported to SNES eventually.
The gameplay is a bit of a copy of the Turtles in Time game, but it adds some new elements like being able to dash with a single button instead of having to use a combination of buttons.
It also no longer can throw enemies towards the screen like in the other game. The game also moves faster and it’s a bit harder with tougher A.I.
It’s a testament to how fun Turtles in Time is that any game even slightly like it tends to be more enjoyable than many other options.
#3 – TMNT III: The Manhattan Project
The Manhattan project got stellar ratings when it came out and has a bit of a comic book feel to it.
It’s a side-scrolling beat ’em up game that looks a bit similar to the Arcade Game even though it’s not directly related.
You can play it with two players at the same time if you want, choosing from one of the four turtles. It’s a lot of fun to play with two players as you move along.
The game was also released for the Japanese Famicon.
#2 – TMNT II: Arcade Game
The arcade game is surprisingly fun given how it’s a bit older. There was an NES port at some point later on as well as other releases.
One of the things that made it so engaging is that you could play up to four players at the same time.
Each turtle had a special move they could do that was based on their weapon, including a sword attack for Leonardo, nunchucks for Michelangelo, and so on. Otherwise, they just did a single attack when you hit the regular attack button.
Having four players, each with different attacks in this “beat em up” game meant that you could have quite a bit of strategy when playing through the game since each special attack was good for different things.
Playing with four players simultaneously in a game like this tends to be highly strategic anyway given that you can call out where everyone should go during the game, dishing out help here or there depending.
It created a strong sense of camaraderie in the players, and it gave you a sense of teamwork that the series is partly about in the first place.
There aren’t a lot of games, especially turtle games, where you could play with all four players.
It was a unique experience, especially when you’re all playing together on the same arcade machine.
#1 – TMNT: Turtles in Time (1992)
Turtles in Time came out for the SNES machine, and it is regarded as the best game in the series by quite a few people.
This is evident from the fact that the game is copied over and over again in other games for TMNT.
The reason why the game was so engaging and entertaining was that it had a combination of story and gameplay elements.
First off, for beat em up game, it managed to avoid one problem that style has which is that it can become monotonous.
This is because you had a variety of fun moves you could use depending on the situation, as well as the fact that each turtle’s moves were different since they had a different weapon.
One unique element that only this game had was that you could throw your opponent towards the “camera,” meaning toward the screen and yourself.
It made it seem like you were tossing the enemy a long way and it was a large amount of fun.
The plot elements were a bit ridiculous, but fun. You fought the bad guy throughout history, in the Old West, even in the future.
By Scanned from Electronic Gaming Monthly #53, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60440791
By Gamespot, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24487231
By Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62727312