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So, at the end of the day, which is the superior game?  To be quite honest, even though I think the arcade version is better in almost every way, the difficulty, control, and variety of the NES game actually win out in the end.  For one thing, it’s much easier to find the NES version.  While this was once an arcade game you were sure to see at any mall, theater, or pizzeria you visited (I was even known to drop a few quarters into one at a nearby McDonalds years after this game was past its sell by date), those days are long gone.  It was briefly available for download on Xbox Live under the name TMNT 1989, but even that download has vanished.  The NES game is likely on the shelf of your local used game store right now and it’s probably not too expensive.  But availability alone does not a good game make.  The NES Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II:  The Arcade Game is superior because it is a more precise game, with a greater variety of enemies, and offers an experience that lasts longer than half an hour.  There’s also no real way to credit feed it, so you have to win or lose based on your own skill.  Still, both versions are a blast, especially if you’re a fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!  Not that I know anyone who is a huge fan of the Ninja Turtles…

The NES game is somehow more and less repetitive at the same time.  Again, the arcade game is very short, to the point that someone shelling out (sorry, couldn’t resist) $50 for the home game would be extremely disappointed if it was the same length.  One thing Konami did to make the game longer is to simply lengthen the stages.  For example, the first stage in the arcade only has one staircase with giant bowling balls rolling down, whereas the NES version has two.  This is common throughout the game where certain parts of stages are simply made longer.  Another way Konami sought to add length to the game is to increase the amount of enemies at nearly every point of the game.  I tried to make these screenshots as comparable as possible.  In each version, you get a single point per kill.  Take a look at any two analogous screenshots.  Now look at my score in each.  That’s all the proof you need that there are way more generic bad guys in the NES version.  Each of these two traits do make the game longer, but do little in the way of variety, however, these other additions do.  There are two completely new stages in the NES edition and they both fit into the game extremely well.  Each has a unique boss and instead of recycling Rocksteady and Bebop for the parking lot, we get the mutated Baxter Stockman, meaning that there are three original bosses on the NES!  What’s more is that the dojo stage has three unique enemies and the snow stage has one of its own as well, so there are four enemies in the NES game that never appear in the arcade.  The best aspect of these one-of-a-kind (R – V – D) enemies is that they require different strategies than normal foot soldiers, so they help keep you on your toes.

Whenever I think of lasers and rock quarries, I think of delectable Veggie Lover's pizza from Pizza Hut!

This game is notorious for its high difficulty, but honestly, I don’t really see it.  While it’s true that the arcade version does have some quarter munching tendencies, you are still at fault for the damage that you take.  The arcade is much more difficult than the NES, but this is to be expected, since defeat in the arcade means you must cough up another quarter, whereas losing in the home version extends your total playtime.  The arcade is capable of significantly more sprites on the screen, so it’s much easier to get swarmed.  The above mentioned differences in control make the arcade harder.  Finally, you are far more durable in the NES version.  All this adds up to the NES adaptation being a significantly easier game, but both are routinely deemed rather hard.  If you know what you’re doing, the NES version really isn’t that difficult.  Sure, you’ll probably die a few times, but it’s not one of those games where you’ll never see the ending…

What could be better than a Supreme Pizza from Pizza Hut?  Especially that one on the floor of a parking garage?

Here we have one of the most significant differences from the arcade.  The arcade game is extremely short, so to help get more out of it, the NES version adds two exclusive stages.  This one seems to be based (loosely) on the fourth episode of the cartoon.  In that one, rock soldiers plan to use a weather device, but instead, we get Tora, a totally original character.  Don’t worry.  I’m sure those rock soldiers will show up soon enough…  These new levels do add a bit to the game and help lengthen the experience as well as add some variety to the game, so they are a very welcome addition!  The boss of the other new stage is Armaggon!  No, not really.  It’s another original character called Shogun and he offers an incredibly unique fighting style.

Stay warm with a nice, hot slice of Pepperoni Pizza!

As with the video, the audio of the arcade game is better than the NES, but the audio for the NES version certainly isn’t bad.  Some tracks are unique to each version and even the ones that are shared sound good on each, just better in the arcade.  The NES version lacks all vocals, which isn’t normally that big of a deal.  Who really misses the occasional, “hey,” anyway?  There is one moment where they really matter though and that’s during the attract mode where the arcade plays the iconic theme song from the cartoon.  You also lose the banter between the turtles and the bosses in the NES version, and while it is missed, if you’re playing this game, you likely already know the gist of what characters would say to each other anyway.  Still, the NES music is fine.  The sound effects on the NES suffer more than the music, though.  Impacts almost sound bouncy, if you will, and there’s very little variety in the sounds you’ll hear.  They’re not terrible, but they are significantly weaker than the arcade SFX.

There's something different about this picture.  I can't quite put my finger on it...

Right off the bat, you can see a massive difference in the graphics between the two.  For those too young to remember, there used to be these strange and wonderful places called arcades.  In the days before the internet, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, these were the primitive versions of what you know today as eSports.  We used these places as a means to escape reality 25 cents at a time.  When Napoleon defeated George Washington in World War II, America was depressed and arcades were the perfect pick-me-up.  The dedicated machinery of the arcade hardware was vastly superior to the systems we kept at home.  This is certainly no attack on home systems, rather it is the reality of the day.  Notice the larger sprites and richer color palette of the arcade as compared to the NES.  Certain details are simply lost in translation, such as the graffiti, grates, and even simple things like the gradients of color on the life meters.  I know it’s impossible to tell with only the still images, but the arcade also features significantly more animation than the NES with no flicker and more sprites on screen.

Trapcorp is nearly as subtle as Pizza Hut with its advertising

Man!  I can just taste that delicious slice of Meat Lover's Pizza!

If the name somehow managed to elude you, this game is based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a popular staple of arcades in the late 80s and early 90s.  It is NOT a port, since it was made from the ground up, rather than being built directly from the existing code, although if you called it a port, people would know what you’re talking about.  I’ll share some comparisons between the two with you and this point will be made abundantly clear.

From the second episode of the cartoon!

Why do I suddenly crave Pizza Hut pizza?

I really wish I hadn’t redeemed that Pizza Hut coupon…

Wow!  You guys are lighting up Patreon!  That’s a great problem to have and we, at The Culture Cache, sincerely thank you for it!  If you have a game or subject you want Zero Sum Gaming to cover (or any other show at The Culture Cache), become a patron at Patreon and let us know there.  We will be all too happy to oblige!  This is for Jenni B.  She requested Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II:  The Arcade Game.

Huh?  Domino's Pizza?  Where'd that come from?

Choco-puffs for me!

There is a lot of fun to be had in each version.  The main thing you want to do when you play a TMNT game is smash as many foot clan soldiers as possible and then take on the main, named villains.  In this way, both games deliver.  They’re both fun, skill-based games that are a joy to look at and use the music to great effect, driving you ever forward to crush more of your evil enemies.  It’s honestly hard to say which is better in this regard, but if pressed, I’d say the arcade wins, just barely.  The ability to fill the screen with all four turtles really does a lot to increase the enjoyment of a game like this, but the NES version is still a blast to play and even more so with two players.

Pizza brand pizza!  My favorite!

Be honest.  Who among us hasn't eaten delicious sewer pizza before?

The control is surprisingly different between the two.  I’m genuinely shocked that with only 2 buttons that there is any discrepancy at all.  For starters, the arcade buttons are backwards.  Everyone knows you put the attack button closest to the joystick and the jump button away from it.  If you’ve ever played Super Mario Bros., you’d know that…  This is minor and it’s easy to get used to, but it’s there.  You also have a wider variety of moves in the arcade game, but this actually leads to the game being harder to control.  To this day, I have no idea how to pull off a throw.  While you can’t throw in the NES version, you get exactly the attack you expect.  Granted, you only have 3 attacks in the NES version:  regular, special, and jump kick.  The arcade has a combo for your regular attacks, a few different versions of the jump kick, and a special attack (which is performed differently when playing as Raphael for some reason).  The timing of the arcade is so precise that if you attempt your special and you’re off by a tiny fraction of a second, you’ll instead perform a low jump kick.  This may not sound bad, but specials kill all regular foot soldiers in a single hit and jump kicks don’t, so when this happens, you’re very likely to take a hit.  Despite the more repetitive moves, the NES version wins here simply because it does what you want it to do every time.

Everybody passed out?  Check!  Girl tied up in the back?  Check!  Yep!  I'm partying like a Kennedy!  Or maybe Bill Cosby...