Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III : The Manhattan Project - A hit beat 'em up on the NES!

If you could choose one Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video game to play for the rest of your life, what would you choose? If you said TMNT IV: Turtles in Time you may need to go back and play TMNT III: The Manhattan Project, perhaps the best beat ‘em up on the NES and I’ll wager the best TMNT video game.

TMNT III is a completely original entry in the series. It is neither an arcade port, nor a standard side-scroller. It takes the formula from arcade games which were, let’s face it, designed to be just fun enough to keep our minds off the fact that we were spending on average 1/3 the cost of a new game cartridge to complete, and builds a game that requires strategy and teamwork.

Something lacking I found in TMNT II is how similar the turtles played. In TMNT III, each turtle has a unique special move, although this does cause damage to use. Aside from this every turtle has a one-hit kill move that flips enemies over their head with the possibility to strike other enemies for minor damage. As in TMNT II, when you jump and attack, it results in a downward diagonal jump kick…every time, as opposed to the nearly uncontrollable various attacks that occur at different jump heights in Turtles in Time.

This game features 8 huge and beautifully designed stages, taking you from the beach, to the sewers, to the Technodrome, and beyond! The foot soldiers never manage to get stale and while you may see a few types several times, each stage will surprise you with a new type or two as well as ways they will appear on screen. Seldom is it that a foot soldier just walks on screen from the left or right.

Of course like one would expect from a TMNT game, foot soldiers are the least of your troubles. There are all manner of robotic enemies and creatures from the dreaded Dimension X. Possibly the very best aspect of the game are the bosses. The designers seem to have delved quite deep into the TMNT universe in search of bosses and mini-bosses. Rocksteady, Bebop, Krang, and Shredder make their appearance as is usual, but we also face Groundchuck, Slash, Dirtbag, Leatherhead, Tokka, Rahzar, and Super Shredder. You read that correctly: 2 Shredder fights, one of which takes place about two-thirds of the way through the game. Just when you thought you had beaten the game upon defeating Shredder in the Technodrome, you are greeted with two more long, challenging, and incredibly fun stages.

Let us come back to the bosses, which as stated above, are perhaps the best aspect of the game. Aside from their wonderful variety is their design. A different strategy is required for each boss. Trying to repeatedly jump-kick or just wail away on the bosses will get you killed very quickly. You have to pay attention to how they move and attack to see when and how you must counterattack to take as little damage as possible. Add a second player into the mix and it takes the strategy required to a whole other level. The bosses will adapt to having two foes and try to deal out equal amounts of punishment.

This game is challenging, but with planning and teamwork can be overcome in about 2 hours in a multiplayer game, and a bit shorter in single player. If you or your partner is a n00b, the Konomi code will give you access to level select, increasing lives up to 7, and an easy mode.

Not only is this one of the best Turtles games out there, it is one of the best NES games and best beat-'em-ups perhaps of all time. It is certainly in the top 5 for best multiplayer games on the NES. The game’s only flaw is a minor bit of slowdown when about 9 foot soldiers end up on the screen in the final stages.

This game is near to perfection. The only thing that could have made it better would have been a four-player mode, which may not have been possible on the NES. If you have never played it, or forgot about it, you owe it to yourself to play it to completion. Pick up a copy, find a gaming buddy, and take down Krang and Shredder!

By Duston Justice


  1. I totally agree with you. Manhattan Project has always been my fav Turtles game. Even tho i have Turtles in time and the Hyperstone Heist i still think MP is better. For some reason MP never got released in Europe but somehow i got a pirate famicom cartrige of it and was probably one of the few in europe who got to play this when it was new. I still have the cartrige and play it now and then. Really fun to read your review and see that there is one other person who thinks this is the best Turtles game out there :)


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