Turtle mania was sweeping the world when this came out in 1989. That's probably why this game was so popular despite it being an unfair bag of dog's droppings!
So popular was the franchise that Nintendo even bundled the NES with this game in Europe replacing the mighty Super Mario Bros cart.
It's easy to see why so many persevered with this at the time. It had the turtles in it! Unfortunately not many of the bad guys from the TV show even appear in the game. A bit of an oversight you might say. Instead baddies are just generic looking and could be from any other action platform game instead. They did put in Bebop and Rocksteady, but that was about it!
Basically the game is a platform game, but there are overhead driving sections as well. Both are probably as irritating and unfair as each other. The 4 turtles you can play as are hopelessly unbalanced; Raphael and Michelangelo have terrible reach with their weapons so it is much too easy to get hit.
Coupled with the lousy collision detection you will be tearing your hair out before long. Things are better with Donatello and the reach of his staff, so try to keep him alive!
Other problems are the endlessly respawning enemies which are difficult to take out and unfair precision jumps which you will have to progress in the game. One slight mess up and you have to backtrack several screens taking more and more damage. This just doesn't work in a game of this nature, it adds to the frustration factor.
To add insult to injury, there are also an abundance of graphical glitches and slowdown which further hampers the enjoyment factor. To make matters worse, the game's score is devoid of any recognizable TMNT tunes, including the main theme. This is a travesty, to say the least. The sound effects are all right, but by no means compensate for the lack of TMNT inspired sounds and music.
Thankfully some of the sequels on the NES are generally better than this. Don't let childhood nostalgia blind you to the flaws this game has. By all means if you have fond memories of this from when you were a kid download it, but don't say we didn't warn you!
Note: Presumably due to licensing costs, the game costs 600 Wii Points instead of 500 which is the cost of a standard NES game.