Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the NES was infamous for being super hard. For many, the game unbeatable. On the PC, though, that was actually true!
The PC port of TMNT—the DOS one, specifically—was weird for a few reasons: the sound was terrible, it didn’t look as good, and playing with a keyboard sucked. Worse, the programmers modified one of the levels, shifted the geometry over, and made a key jump impossible.
As a result, you literally could not beat the game without cheating!
Yes, that actually happened.
These days, if a game has a game-breaking glitch, patches can be issued. That wasn’t the case in 1989, when TMNT was released. If the game didn’t work, the game didn’t work. So far as I can tell, the game was never fixed.
To get a better sense of what changed, here’s a comparison:
The only way to progress in the game is to cheat or glitch! Seriously.
Video Credit: TheRabidOgre
If it’s possible to make that jump with clever timing, nobody seems to figured out how to do it. I can’t find any video evidence, and it prompted the long running website Scary Crayon to make a declaration:
Actually, scratch that. This game isn’t just hard to beat — it’s impossible. Seriously. Back when I used to play this game on the old 286, I never even got to Rocksteady, let alone the dreaded underwater level. But now that I’ve been able to cheat (pressing Q, W, E, R, T, Y, U, and P at the same time will render you invincible, or you can hack the game exe to similar effect using the DOS debug utility), I’ve been able to get all the way to the last building that you can reach via the Turtle Van before making your way to the building where you face Mechaturtle on the roof. [...] So, expert gamers of the world, you want a challenge? Beat this game without cheating.
I have terrible memories of this game. As a kid, TMNT and Ghostbusters were my life, which meant I was playing every game based on them that came out, good or bad. (Luckily, there were actually a handful of very good TMNT games!) This game, despite selling a ton of copies, wasn’t one of them.
That Actually Happened is a weekly series at Kotaku in which we highlight interesting moments in gaming history. So far, we’ve revisited when Sonic kissed a human, a live game show on Xbox 360, and Sony throwing a God of War party with a dead goat. If you have any suggestions for future entries, please let us know in the comments below!