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The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles NES video game turns 25 years old

Gameplay screenshot.
Gameplay screenshot.

It is difficult to overstate just how overwhelmingly widespread the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were, as a force of pop culture, in the early 1990's.

They were inescapable. They originally began as a comic book, actually -- but exploded into a cartoon series, a live-action movie canon, and countless toys. They were on bedsheets, in coloring books, and across underwear. To say they were "big" is an understatement. They were a red-hot zeitgeist that dominated the playground conversations of the era.

Perhaps, then, it should be no surprised that the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 8-bit video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) console managed to sell over four million copies. That figure is spectacular, especially considering that opinions of the game vary widely. Some view it as a timeless classic, a challenging action classic. Others just remember one particularly notorious level and let its bitter taste tinge their view of the game as a whole. Its true quality probably lies somewhere in the middle, of course.

Regardless of whether we liked it or not, the TMNT game was certainly memorable, especially as Turtles fans ourselves as kids. This video game still packs a potent nostalgia; how bittersweet, then, to reflect on its June 1989 release date, and realize that it is now a quarter-century old.

Cowabunga, dude.


Eric Bailey blogs at, where he is reviewing every American-released NES video game. He also serves as Editor-In-Chief of retro gaming features site, and can be followed on Twitter @Nintendo_Legend.

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