TMNT: a shell game

In this day and age who could ask for more?

Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles on the NES is -- wait, sorry. Forgot that I'm British. Let me try that again.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the NES is thirty years old. This delights me, because it means it is getting older and therefore closer to death. Preferably a painful one, instantly followed by eternal tribulation in the abyss. I do not like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the NES. I do not like it, Sam I am.

Yet, annoyingly, it isn't actually bad. In fact, its reputation as a nails-hard runt-child of the NES library is slightly unfair and undue, based on the oft-cited underwater bomb-defusing, coral-evading second level. It's an area that's more intimidating than it is truly challenging, and I suspect its notoriety is - in no small part - down to the modern perception of retro games as short-term distractions. Died a couple of times on a stage? Might as well load up another rom.

No, the water level is alright. It's fine. The whole game is fine, up until the final level, which is - and I'm not exaggerating - the thing that made me the angriest I have ever been. I hasten to acknowledge that this is representative of what it would be entirely fair to describe as a charmed life. If you wish to scoff at my claim that the stupid Turtles game on Nintendo has prompted such overt fury within me, then I would not blame you in the slightest. In fact, I will join you. Ha, ha! I'm the worst!

But that final level. Not even really the final level, but the final corridor. It's like pushing your face through a wall of knives, like that feller in Saw 4. Or maybe it was 5. One of those crappy movies, anyway. It pitches you down a straight, linear path with a relatively low ceiling, then farts reams of enemies into your face like you're trapped in some bizarre fetish video. Jetpack sods firing lasers. Weird spinning robot things. You'll lose all your turtles in a matter of seconds as the game pours figurative scorn on you, pointing and laughing with embittered vigour. I had to abuse save states to get through there. I can't even imagine doing it on real hardware. I expect most of you - possibly all of you? - will, in fact, have done this. With consumnate ease.

"It's easy, Stu", you'll opine. And you'll detail a foolproof, flawless strategy. And perhaps that strategy would even work. But it'll never replace the memories I have of sitting in my mate's flat, screeching hateful slurs at that corridor because I had exhausted my supply of conventional obscenities.

TMNT is 30. It's a good game. May it rot in hell.