This was the second game I ever beat on the Nintendo. Well, when I say “I” that means it was really a group effort. You see, this was a game that took a little time to beat. One couldn’t merely load a checkpoint and continue from a previous day. Nope, back in those days we had to blow on our cartridge, stick in the game, and hope for the best.
Some things in life don’t change.
The game was famous for allowing players to switch between Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo. If you lost one in combat, you would start the stage over, less one turtle, but no matter, you could rescue them during certain stages (I believe the long stage 3 come is the first opportunity).
Back to the group effort. You see, I was pretty good at the first couple stages. We had this thing where my brother and I would test to see if we could beat the swim stage without getting hit once. This proved pretty easy. Then we would test if we could beat it on a single breath without getting hit, and we never could. I dare you to try. It wasn’t until stage 3 that we had some difficulty.
This is because of the fucking scrolls.
I looked online for some pictures of a turtle actually throwing one of these weapons of mass foot soldier destruction, but couldn’t find one in 10 minutes of searching. You see, the scrolls were the only weapon that could beat Shredder, so my brother and I loaded each turtle with the max (I think 99).
Then, this is where the plot thickens, because the biggest gamer in the house happened to be my father, who actually seemed to play this game more than us. So on stage 4, we would hand the controller to our father, who had come the closest to beating the game on a random Saturday.
The goal was simple.
We wanted to beat the game as a family. So over and over, my brother and I were essentially tricked to becoming my father’s scroll mules as we essentially became his restart button. I can’t blame him, this is what I would do today if there was no save function. Just truck the kid that it was a quest together, and they would do the hard work getting the turtles prepped for the harder stages to come.
In any case, I still remember each time “we” would descend down to Shredders lair, which was the most boobytrapped place since King Tut’s tomb. The walls would collapse in with spikes and there was this maneuver where you had to drop three levels just in time. If you lost a turtle, you were fucked, because you needed four turtles to beat Shredder.
This is where my father came in. He had a certain sense of timing. So on the day of reckoning, my brother and I watched as he made the drop and we finally saw Shredder for the first time. My father then unleashed a shitload of scrolls on him, in a deadly battle of wills. My father didn’t have the full compliment of scrolls, but he had enough to win, in which we all jumped in gamer glory.
Then the hard part happened. My brother and I wanted to beat it by ourselves and never could. We tried and tried but always hit a wall (pun intended).
I’m sure there was some gamer trick to it, but eventually, we reached the conclusion that my father and the secret touch. So whenever the time was at hand, we would give the controller to our father, or run outside and tell him to stop mowing the lawn, because we were near the end of stage 6. He would stop whatever he was doing and pull the miracle.
I forget how many times we beat the game, maybe 7 to 10 times or so, but I’ll never forget the father would answer the call to arms.