Posted on August 30, 2011
TMNT (NES) and Mega Man 3 (NES)
It might seem strange on the surface, but for me, these two distinct titles are forever linked.
When Mega Man 3 came out, I was fortunate enough to have gotten it for Christmas. I was so excited to finally own a Mega Man title, that it actually ranks up there in my “Favourite Christmas Moments of All Time”. The game was just that great.
What wasn’t there to love? The bosses could be fought however the heck you wanted to (without any one perfect route), Mega Man had a nifty slide move, and best of all, you had a sidekick worth keeping in Rush “The Robodog”. I don’t know if his surname ever stuck, but it sure worked better than “1”, “2”, and “3” from the second game.
Even though it was many times tougher than the prior games in the series (mostly due to the re-appearance of the Mega Man 2 bosses), I managed to zip through it and have it almost beaten by the time I went back to class after Christmas break. I can remember the excitement of getting to that first Wily Stage upstairs in my grandmother’s bedroom, which is where I kept my NES hooked up on the longer trips. That under-water boss fight was intense!!
The first time I beat the game, my best friend and neighbor Josh was there. We found out we had to beat Dr. Wily using the most ridiculous power up ever conceived for a Mega Man game (up until that point, anyway).
The credits rolled, and I couldn’t help but find the music incredibly sad. The entire game’s soundtrack was amazing, and the 5-note Proto Man intro music was no exception. So, when they took it and wrote an entire 3-minute tune out of it, I had gone from thinking “awesome tune!” to “did Proto Man die??” The part of the credits where his image is in the sky certainly helped push me into thinking that.
With the game complete, I did as I often would do with certain friends – trade one game for another, just for kicks. Josh got Mega Man 3, and I got Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
I always thought it was a tough game, and I always thought that if I could get past the dreaded Dam level, I was golden! I managed to do that a few times, and even made it as far as rescuing Splinter at the end of the confusing Turtle Van level. In my mind, I had rescued both April O’Neil and Splinter – why bother with the rest of the game? My job is done. Let Shredder terrorize New York City, cuz I’m quitting. See you at the beach…
When it came time for the re-swap, Mega Man 3 could not be found by anyone. Not Josh, not his parents, not me when I’d go over to “play”, but really to look for the game… it had vanished. Josh and his family even moved two or three times in the following years, and the game was still nowhere to be found. I was sad at losing such a great game, but to make amends, was allowed to keep TMNT. Hardly an equal trade, but I took it.
I’m pretty sure the game accidentally got returned to our corner store, as Josh’s dad used to own it. Perhaps the game was brought back to my house, and somehow got hidden. My family hasn’t moved in 30 years, so I guess you just never know.
As I see things now, that sort of thing happens. It killed me as a kid, knowing it was out there, not being played. To this day, I still go to flea markets half-expecting to have it show up. It had a little tear on the sticker on the top of the cartridge, close to the “3”, and I keep an eye out for it. For all I know, someone could have ripped the entire sticker off of it by now.
As you can see, I was marked for life by this series of events.
Not only is it a completely different kind of game, but the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles title shares pretty much nothing with its cartoon TV show counterpart. I didn’t know this until recently, but the comic book the Turtles franchise is based on is much, much darker. The basics are there, and your typical “Turtles save either April or Splinter (or both) then foil Shredder” plot is intact.
As mentioned above, the credits made me sad when I watched them the first time. Even though it’s a toss-up between this and Mega Man 2, I always truly believed that this had a slight advantage in terms of which was the better game. I always argued that the content was what had the edge, but looking back, maybe it was the better story…