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TMNT III: The Manhattan Project – NES

TMNT III: The Manhattan Project – NES

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project - NESPlatform:  NES

Release Date (NA):  February 1992

Developer:  Konami

Publisher:  Konami

Genre:  Beat ’em up

Nerd Rating:  8 out of 10



8- and 16-bit beat ’em ups haven’t aged well against today’s games, but that doesn’t keep me from enjoying some brainless brawling from time to time.  TMNT II might just be the best NES beat ’em up of all time, and its sequel The Manhattan Project doesn’t fall too far behind.  This third installment in the series doesn’t aim to add much new to the overall gameplay and instead keeps pace with a formula that works – punch, jump, repeat.

The story goes that while vacationing in Florida, the Turtles must again contend with April’s kidnapping by Shredder.  On top of the usual damsel in distress, the entire borough of Manhattan has been turned into a floating island as part of one of Krang’s nefarious schemes.  And so the Turtles prepare to cut a path through the Foot Clan once again.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project - NES

The problem.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project - NES

I was glad to see an inclusion like Groundchuck, who I immediately recognized from the toy.

The player advances through various street level stages before finally ending up in the sewers and subsequently the Technodrome with the single goal of beating up bad guys.  Like TMNT II, the majority of foes are Foot Soldiers, coming in all sorts of colors and varieties.  Tougher enemies show up at times (robots (Fugitoid, I think) and rock soldiers) but the real challenges are the bosses and subbosses scattered about.  Familiar faces like Bebop and Rocksteady, Tokka and Rahzar, and Slash join some lesser known adversaries like Dirtbag and Groundchuck.  It’s nice to see some recognizable baddies after all the unknowns thrown into TMNT II.

The best way to enjoy these games is with a friend in co-op mode, and The Manhattan Project offers up an interesting option in this regard.  One can play in modes “A” or “B,” the difference being whether or not “friendly fire” is active.  It’s a small but thoughtful addition; most players won’t want to worry about hitting each other and causing actual damage but it is great for those looking for a more challenging playthrough.  Players can also enter in the famed Konami Code to access a basic cheat menu for stage selection and modifying the number of available continues. The Manhattan Project isn’t too very hard, but moving through all 8 levels on just a few lives can be tough.  As usual, the great thing about a game like this is that if you die, you’re able to respawn in exactly the same spot.  Co-op players can even exchange lives, which one can reacquire slowly via racking up points.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project - NES

Shit gets tough.

Controls are simple but effective – A jumps, B attacks, and attacking while jumping produces a jump kick.  The jump kicks are nearly impossible to effectively aim (as it was in the previous game) but Konami decided to add in a few extra moves as well.  The Turtles can perform a throwing move while pressing Down plus B and also execute a sort of special move by pressing A and B simultaneously.  It’s another small change, and all 4 Turtles still play exactly the same, but these baby steps can make an effective difference in these simpler games.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project - NES

Rahzar – or “Rahzer” as the credits call him – looks weird as hell and gains freezing breath for the game!

I wish The Manhattan Project had advanced the gameplay a little more from where it was in TMNT IIas it is, it feels a little more like a continuation than a full-fledged sequel.  However, the levels and the hordes of enemies are paced more evenly, probably because there was no arcade counterpart to The Manhattan Project designed to eat up quarters.  Graphics and sound are pretty much on par with its predecessor, though it would appear that at times the artists have (smartly) eschewed some of the low-res detail in order to give us a clearer picture of what’s going on.  For instance the boss characters are simpler and cleaner looking in TMNT III even if they appear slightly more cartoonish.

The other reason I can’t quite bring myself to score TMNT III as highly as TMNT II is because of the general decline in background interactivity.  TMNT III retains the basics, but TMNT II had all kinds of doors swinging and sliding open, balls rolling down stairs, cars backing up, and several other little touches that added to its simplistic appeal.  It’s possible that The Manhattan Project skipped over some of these details in favor of brevity and a faster paced experience, though it does have the effect of eroding some of the initial novelty.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project - NES

The game wraps up with a difficult face off against Krang and then an encounter with Super Shredder himself.

Nitpicks aside, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project still stands as a strong beat ’em up from an era when the genre was at its peak.  It’s brainless yet well-balanced fun for oldschool multiplayer action and perfectly captures what any kid could’ve wanted from a Turtles game.  Only one question remains: why is there a Triceraton on the cover!?

Reviewed by The Cubist

Written by The Cubist

The Cubist

Co-founder, Head Author, & Site Technician

Find out what these ratings mean and how I rate video games.

I collect as much video gaming paraphernalia as I can get my hands on, especially when it comes to hardware. With over 40 systems including oldies like the ColecoVision and Intellivision, obscurities like the CD-i and 3DO, and the latest and greatest including the Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, 3DS, and PS Vita, I get easily overwhelmed. Most of the time you can find me firmly nestled sometime between 1985 and 1995 when it comes to my games of choice, but I’m also having a great time seeing what the 8th generation has to offer.

Currently in love with: Mortal Kombat

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  1. Dude this game was hard (as were all of them) but it was fun as crap! Great series!

  2. InfiniteKnife
    InfiniteKnife says:


  3. InfiniteKnife
    InfiniteKnife says:

    Because the boos battles in these games are hard as crap!!

    Didn’t the special moves drain some of your health each time you hit an enemy with them? That’s usually how it goes in these beat em ups.

  4. Raph’s “can you believe this shit” look at the camera in that last screenshot is hilarious. I don’t think he wants to participate in that boss battle.


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