TMNT on the NES isn't really the game franchise in it's best form. The first two games aren't really worth playing, and are quite disappointing for fans. But I'm happy to say that the third breaks this trend and gives us the 2nd best brawler on the NES: The Manhattan Project (which I just realized is the name of a nuclear bomb. 0_0)
The plot is that The Turtles are enjoying a nice vacation in the Key Islands, when all of a sudden The Shredder announces that he is kidnapping April O'Neil and taking the whole island of Manhattan by lifting it off of the ground.
The gameplay is vastly improved from the second game. You can now perform combo attacks, and can even impale and throw your enemies; a nice touch. Not only that, Each of the Turtles has their own special attack that's always useful in a pinch, however it can burn through your energy quickly. The 2 player has made a return, and still is pretty slow and it still flickers quite a bit, but it's still fun and makes the game more enjoyable. Another nice touch with the game is the ability to swap out Turtles when you lose a life. It really helps when you need another characters special attack during a tough boss battle.
About that, The Manhattan Project is a pretty tough game. Not as hard as say, the first game, but it can get nasty at times. The enemies have some pretty tricky attacks and the bosses are incredibly aggravating, but with some patience and a bit of skill they are easily conquered. The visuals are nice, colorful and stylish. All of the in-game environments are diverse and unique, and the art direction for the turtles and enemy characters is top-notch.
The music is also amazing. The tunes are upbeat and intense, featuring the TMNT theme throughout the compositions, as expected of course. My personal favorite is the theme that plays during the credits; it's funky and is a nice reward for completing the game.
Other that a few changes and different levels, The Manhattan Project is not much different from the second game. It's much better than TMNT II, but it suffers from the same glitchy cooperative play, and the boss encounters can be unfair from time to time. But as it stands, it's a lot better than the first two, and aside from Double Dragon 2, is the best beat em' up for the NES.
+ Pretty Colors.
+ Can swap out players.
+ Fun co-op.
+ Catchy music.
- Similar to the 2nd game.
- 2-Player still glitch-ridden.
- Frustrating Boss fights.
Overall: ***8 out of 10***