A long time ago, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird sat down and penned one of the weirdest ideas for a comic book ever written. Originally a loose pastiche work of titles such as Ronin and Daredevil, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were a weird concept that really shouldn’t have worked, but years later almost everyone in the world knows and love these heroes in a half shell.

RELATED: The Best Beat Em Up Games Ever

No one could have imagined the success of merchandising alone, and no one could have imagined the critical reception of video games that followed comic books, movies, and animated series. These are the best TMNT games that order the double cheese, hold the anchovies, and never pay full price for a late-night pizza – in short, these are the best TMNT games of all time.

four humanoid turtles surrounded by armed enemies

It was only a matter of time for Konami to transfer their success in arcades and on home consoles to the realm of handheld gaming, and their first entry was memorable. Fall of the Foot Clan took a simplified approach to the TMNT arcade formula.

Rather than the standard brawler, the Game Boy game focused a bit more on platforming and dodging obstacles. The game featured music from the original 80s TV show and great cutscenes between levels.


9 TMNT Tournament Fighters

a mutant turtle and a mutant man shark face off

If you ever look at old ninja turtle action figures and think, “who the hell is that type of shark?” TMNT: Tournament Fighters is your answer. But the game wasn’t just a soulless cash grab for extra merchandising – it was a fleshed out, fairly well-rounded fighting game.

While there are differences between the SNES and Genesis versions, you’re safe with either – just know that you’re in for a long game if you choose tournament mode in the Genesis version.

8 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Battle Nexus

3 ninjas stand in front of a man like a turtle

There aren’t many games that can turn the beat ’em up genre into a 3D experience and still be worth playing, but TMNT 2: Battle Nexus pulls it off. More than just a standard 3D brawler, the game mixes it well with lots of platforming and fun collectibles.

RELATED: The Best Collectathon Games Ranked

Another cool feature was the ability to play with up to four players, a perk the first game based on the Turtles incarnation lacked in 2003.

seven TMNT 3: The Manhattan Project

tmnt the manhattan project

The sequel to the NES port of the arcade game, The Manhattan Project is an even tougher outing, yes even tougher than the previous NES game. On the plus side, the graphics are attractive and the level design and variety is such that the game offers enough of a unique experience to warrant a play, even if you’ve played the other games too much.

Plus, like many beat ’em ups from the era, you can also choose to play with the option to beat your friends, for even more of a challenge.


an image attached the one on the left is a ninja turtle facing another ninja the right is a turtle skating in a sewer

The early and mid-2000s gave us a new teenage ninja adaptation that reflected a more gritty, action-packed, and dramatic animated spectacle than its ’80s predecessor. forms including the PS2, GameCube and Game Boy Advance.

This latest release was a throwback to the classic beat ’em ups of the past, with a few extra bells and whistles such as sewer tunnel skating, hovercraft rail shooting and a really good GBA rendition of the edgy theme song and very 2000s of the show.

5 TMNT 2: The Arcade

a mutant ninja turtle standing in the snow next to the Pizza Hut sign

Often when an arcade game was ported to home consoles, the game ended up being a watered down, deflated balloon of what it was before. That wasn’t the case when the Turtles arcade game made its way to the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Although the four-player option had to be dropped, the game added more levels and provided a much greater challenge than its arcade counterpart. The game served as many gamers’ first exposure to beat them and portrayed the Turtles and Konami as the kings of the genre.

4 TMNT: Hyperstone Break

hyperstone tmnt heist gameplay

Like Castlevania Bloodlines and Super Castlevania 4, Konami has developed an all-new Turtles game for Genesis as a companion to the SNES Turtles in Time. As with many Genesis titles, the main difference was speed. In addition to offering a run button, Hyperstone Heist has established a good pace with fewer but longer levels than Turtles in Time and much more aggressive enemies.

Comparing Turtles in Time and Hyperstone Heist, Turtles in Time is best thought of as the easy listening Beatles and feel-good classic Abbey Road, while Hyperstone Heist is the punchy, fast, in-your-face track of Metallica. Black album. Both are great on their own, but different in their approach and delivery.

3 TMNT – Arcade

4 ninja turtles stand in a burning room and a rhinoceros man comes out of a room in the corner

The game that made history and launched a true renaissance of the beat ’em up genre, the original arcade game was a trailblazer. Simultaneous four-player action made you and your friends feel like the turtles you’re playing with.

There’s no better feeling than walking into a pizzeria and finding the holy grail that is a Turtles arcade cabinet – but for those unlucky, the game has since seen plenty of ports and re-releases, like being unlockable in TMNT 2: Battle Nexus and Arcade 1UP keep those memories alive with their mini arcade cabinets.

2 TMNT 3: The Radical Rescue

tmnt the radical rescue cutscene

Very few people stop to think about the implications that a small Game Boy Turtles game would have on the gaming industry. rollback and abilities to help you access previously blocked. This is done by rescuing each of the four turtles which each have different abilities and different ways they can help the game progress.

RELATED: The Best Metroidvania Games On Switch

Released four years before Symphony of The Night, Radical Rescue is not just a game worth playing, but a game that helped create one of the most important games in gaming history.

1 TMNT: Turtles in Time

a purple silhouette on a black background

Turtles in Time set the standard for all beat ’em ups to follow. Beautiful colors and graphics with great detailed sprites, a huge variety of enemies and bosses, and interesting levels to go through. Turtles in Time offered the ability to not only throw enemies, but also project them onto the screen.

It featured ten levels all centered around the theme of time travel. Featuring western, prehistoric, and futuristic settings, Turtles in Time was a truly epic beat ’em up in the literal definition of the word.

NEXT: The Best Beat Em Ups of the 2010s

No coming home
Spider-Man: No Way Home is the MCU at its absolute worst

Peter Parker’s adventure in the Metaverse could have been so much more.

Read more

About the Author