Tag - nintendo

The Wizard – Where Are They Now?

Wizard Header

March 2016 Update This article remains the most popular article on this site so I figured I’d give it a bit of a refresh. Since the creation of this article in ’08, more light has been shed on the film. Actors have been tracked down and interviewed, along with director Tod Holland, and some people removed from the spotlight have resurfaced. A few “Where Are They Now” style articles have appeared on other sites, but I think this one is still the most complete. Enjoy!

I recently watched The Wizard again for the first time in over a decade. Coming out of it as an adult, I feel like a have a stronger appreciation for the movie. This movie is by no means good, and it suffers from some of the most blatant product placement I‘ve seen. On the flip side, this film is absolutely amazing in that it has captured an era so perfectly. For a child who grew up in the NES era of gaming, this isn’t a commercial to sell video games. The creators weren’t selling Simon’s Quest and Ninja Gaiden to us because we already knew those games inside and out. This was simply something we could relate to as children. As corny as it is to see Fred Savage compare Jenny Lewis’ life to The Adventure of Link, we understood what he was trying to say, even if he did describe The Legend of Zelda. Watching the movie again is like taking a look back on a childhood that we once had. The discussions of video games on the play ground, talk in the lunch room, and salivating over the pages of Nintendo Power magazine. A life that was heavily influenced by the culture that Nintendo helped create. In this way, the movie succeeds where it didn’t intend to, but that’s part of the charm. This movie was created for generation NES, and no one else. Everyone who watches this movie today will see it for the crap that it is, but the rest of us will see yesterday.

Considering the subject matter, The Wizard actually had a decent cast. Fred Savage and Christian Slater? Come on, this movie was created when they were at their prime, how can we not want to know where these guys are now? Oh you don’t care? That’s okay, I’ll tell you anyway. Let us take a look at not just the actors all these years later, but also the games that defined the movie. So flip up your collar and get ready to learn a few things you didn‘t want to. It’s going to be rad.

Luke Edwards – Jimmy Woods / The Wizard

Luke Edwards and Jimmy Woods
California. One of the only words that Edwards needed to mutter in The Wizard, and he couldn’t even deliver it properly. Maybe it was better that little Jimmy Woods didn’t have much to say during the film. Okay, so Edwards wasn’t the greatest child actor, where does this leave him these days? Edwards has appeared in a variety of roles in movies and shows that I actually never really heard of. His highest profile movie is Jeepers Creepers 2, but I’ve never seen it, so who knows if he is even a main character. It doesn’t matter what he’s in, he’ll always be that kid that wanted to see the dinosaur’s from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure to me.

March 2016 Update In an interview with NintendoLife from 2011 Edward’s revealed that he’s had steady acting gigs since The Wizard. In addition to his acting, he also teaches the occasional acting class in LA and coaches aspiring actors. He recently appeared in episodes of True Detective.

Fred Savage – Corey Woods

Fred Savage is Corey Woods
Savage played the lead role and was the middle brother of the Woods family. If not for Corey Woods, Jimmy would never have embarked on his journey to Video Armageddon. Savage was one of the few kid actors that was actually good, so it’s sad to see his career fade after The Wonder Years. These days, Savage mainly directs children’s shows. In particular, he’s responsible for episodes of Zoey 101, That’s So Raven, Hannah Montana, and Drake and Josh. He has also directed a handful of episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, his feature film directorial debut was the box office bomb Daddy Day Camp. He might not be an A-list actor, but Savage has been keeping himself busy over the years. Good for him.

March 2016 Update Savage currently stars in the Fox comedy series The Grinder after a long acting hiatus. He has not slowed up in directing TV shows. Recently directing shows such as Modern Family and The Goldbergs.

Jenny Lewis – Haley Brookes

Jenny Lewis is Haley Brookes
Lewis is the spunky red headed girl who managed to worm her way into Jimmy and Corey’s life, and was also responsible for pointing out Corey’s natural gaming talent. The character Haley was what every 11 year old boy was looking for in a girl, and that’s the fact that she apparently loved video games. The term girl gamer didn’t exactly exist then, so this made up character is the first mainstream one ever. Lewis actually had a short lived career, but mostly because she chose things to be that way. After acting for several years, she decided to take a break and form the band Rilo Kiley with a few of her friends. Rilo Kiley’s latest album, Under the Black Light, was 8th in Rolling Stone’s Top 50 Albums of 2007.

March 2016 Update In 2011 Rilo Kiley officially disbanded. She has since had a successful solo career.

Christian Slater – Nick Woods

Christian Slater is Nick Woods
Nick Woods is the eldest Woods brother, and helps his father in trying to track down Jimmy and Corey throughout the movie. Nick Woods is mainly remembered for having the magical ability to turn off the NES by unplugging the controller. Slater went from staring in a movie about video games, to staring in a movie based on a video game. That movie is none other than the terrible Alone in the Dark which has a 1% on RottenTomatoes.com. For some reason when I was a kid, I always got Slater confused with Kevin Bacon, which is why I find his role in the direct to DVD sequel, Hallow Man II, even more hilarious.

March 2016 UpdateSlater has seen steady work over the years and I’d say is still a big name. Probably the biggest one on this list. Most recently he is part of USA Network’s Mr. Robot.

Beau Bridges – Sam Woods

Beau Bridges is Sam Woods
Sam is the father of our hero The Wizard. During the movie Sam is not only trying to find his son, but also piece his family back together. Beau is actually the older brother of Jeff Bridges, and since The Wizard he has only seen a string of minor roles. However, he has found success in the hit sci-fi series Stargate-SG1 as General Landry, as well as the TV comedy My Name Is Earl.

March 2016 Update Bridges has had steady TV work over the years. Most recently he starred on the The Millers which ran from 2013 – 2015.

Jackey Vinson – Lucas

“I love the Power Glove, it’s so bad.” When Jackey Vinson shot that scene, there was no way he could have predicted that the internet was going to make him into a star nearly 20 years later. Lucas is Jimmy’s rival gamer in the movie. We all know that the Power Glove is actually a big giant piece of shit, which is what makes this scene all the better. Lucas is basically saying to Jimmy “Listen kid, if I can beat Rad Racer with this piece of shit on my hand, then I’m going to mop the god damned floor with you when I’m using a standard controller.” He handicapped himself in an effort to show off just how awesome he is. No wonder Jimmy bitched out and ran out of the house. Of course, Lucas loses against The Wizard in the end. As for Jackey Vinson? No one really knows. He was only in a handful of episodes of some TV series and one other movie back in ’92. Aside from that, you can’t even find a Wikipedia page on the guy. Maybe he really did see into the future, saw what was coming and ducked out of the publics’ eye. Jackey Vinson, where are you?

UPDATED: 2/4/11
Well we now know where Jackey Vinson is, and boy it isn’t pretty. Reader “King1501″ provided us with a link as to what he’s been doing. Say it aint so Jackey. He should have took Fred Savage’s advice and just kept his Power Gloves to himself.

March 2016 Update So it didn’t take long for word to spread of Jackey Vinson’s sex offender violation, but the details are not known (which is fine, that is his business). It’s unfortunate because a question about this even popped up in the above linked interview with Luke Edwards regarding Jackey’s charges. What we do know is that in 2012 Jackey tried to crawl out of the woodwork a bit by creating an official Twitter handle. A glance through his feed showed that he was trying to embrace the whole Power Glove line and attempt to connect with his audience. He made one small tweet about making mistakes in his life and wanting to reconnect. It seems to Twitter time only lasted a few short months.

Lee Arenberg – The “NINJA GAI-DAN! HAI!” Guy

Lee Arenberg is Ninja Gaiden Guy
My favorite part of The Wizard is when the kids finally make it to Video Armaggedon and sign up for the tournament. There they meet Lee Arenberg, who shouts and screams his three lines with more enthusiasm than anyone in the movie. It was hilarious then, and it’s hilarious now. What you don’t know about Lee Arenberg is that he’s a secret great bit actor, and has shown up in more movies and television shows than anyone on this list. He has been in episodes of Star Trek, Friends, Walker Texas Ranger, and Scrubs. Most people would probably know him as Pintel from the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy.

March 2016 Update Arenberg currently stars in Once Upon a Time as Grumpy.

Tobey Maguire – Lucas’ henchman

Tobey Maguire is Lucas’ henchman
Who would have guessed that the person who made it big from The Wizard was the little kid that was cast as Lucas’ thug friend? No one. Yup, our friendly neighborhood spider had an uncredited role in The Wizard. It’s a cool easter egg that fits in with the movie quite well.

March 2016 Update A recent interview with Maguire from the Collider actually has him going into a story about his bit part in the film.

The Games of The Wizard

Contrary to the 97 games that this movie claims to have existed at the time, the NES actually had something closer to 1 bazillion games, and the producers made sure to pick the games they knew kids loved at the time. I imagine that back in that time it was a little harder to pick the most popular games, though I’m sure Nintendo probably helped point them in the right direction. Many games were mentioned during the movie, but few actually had long moments of screen time. So, which series of games mentioned in this movie stood the test of time?

Double Dragon

Double Dragon
Strangely enough, the first game showcased in The Wizard is the original Double Dragon. Double Dragon is one of those series that didn‘t quite graduate from the 8-bit era. The height of Double Dragon was with it’s NES sequal, Double Dragon II: The Revenge, though the SNES’ Super Double Dragon was a decent game as well. Double Dragon became popular enough to get its own feature film and Saturday morning cartoon series, but it’s popularity died not long after. The game series basically ended in the mid 90s, though there were some spin off fighting games on the Neo Geo. In 2003 the original Double Dragon was recreated for the Gameboy Advance, but no new titles were developed for the platform. In May of ’07, a port of the arcade original was released for Xbox Live. This series is a shell of what it used to be, and these new releases are likely only purchased by people who have loving memories of the early games.

March 2016 Update Double Dragon had a slight comeback with 2012’s excellent Double Dragon Neon by WayForward. It’s easily the best Double Dragon since 2 on the NES.

Rad Racer

Rad Racer
This game was done by Square before they created (and milked to death) the Final Fantasy series. It’s really interesting to see people like Hironobu Sakaguchi and Nobuo Uematsu have their names attached to a title like this. As for the Rad Racer series, Square did an exclusive sequel for North America but sadly the series has passed on with the 8-bit era of video games.

Ninja Gaiden

Ninja Gaiden
This game is actually featured twice in the movie. We get a glimpse of Jimmy playing it earlier in the film, and again at the competition. Ninja Gaiden went on to become a successful trilogy on the NES, and even had a Gameboy iteration. Several ports of Ninja Gaiden were available on a variety of consoles, but none of them had the success of the NES titles. For nearly 10 years the Ninja Gaiden games remained dormant, until 2004 when Tecmo revived the series for Xbox. The new game did extremely well both commercially and critically, and new titles for the Xbox 360 and Nintendo DS are right around the corner.

March 2016 Update Ninja Gaiden is still very much a thing. Ninja Gaiden finally returned to Nintendo with 2012’s Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge. Along with that, the classic NES Ninja Gaiden games continue to roll out on Nintendo’s download services like the eShop for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

This game was likely spotlighted because not only was the NES the talk of the town in ’89, but so was TMNT. As we know TMNT has never really gone away, though the franchise never quite hit the stride it once had. TMNT on the NES isn’t really a good game, but the fact of the matter is that everyone was playing it. Because the game was so damn hard, people were no doubt trying to give tips to each other on how to get through the thing. It was only fitting to see it in The Wizard. For years Konami made TMNT titles that appeared on nearly every console, skipping only the 32-bit generation. Last year with the release of the TMNT movie, Ubisoft released new titles across all major platforms, as well as the arcade original for XBox 360, and this very game on the Wii Virtual console.

March 2016 Update Ninja Turtles had a huge resurgence when Nickelodeon rebooted the series with the latest cartoon series. Now we’re in the middle of a whole new TMNT renaissance with new toys, games, shows and movies. Due later this year is a TMNT game from Platinum.

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

Zelda II
For whatever reason, this movie never mentions the original Zelda game. The Zelda series has held in tight, and the overall quality of the entire series has never truly faltered. Zelda II in particular is somewhat of the black sheep of the family, but that didn’t stop Nintendo from packaging it in the Zelda Collector’s Edition for Gamecube, as a Gameboy Advance game, and as a Wii Virtual Console title for download. Not only has the Zelda series survived the times, but so has this game in particular.

March 2016 Update Nintendo never forgot Zelda 2. It has since hit 3DS and Wii U’s eShop services and has been remixed into the game NES Remix 2.

Super Mario Brothers 3

Mario 3
Perhaps the reason every child begged their parents to see this movie. The Wizard promised us the first real look at Super Mario Brothers 3, and it delivered. Though it likely would have become a hit regardless, Super Mario Brothers 3 not only went on to become the best selling NES game, but the best selling game of all time. Super Mario Brothers 3 has since been rereleased through Super Mario All Stars on the SNES, ported to the Gameboy Advance, and available for download on the Nintendo Wii. The Mario brand is still as strong today as it was in ’89 both commercially and critically. The recently released Super Mario Galaxy has once again solidified Mario’s place in gaming, and New Super Mario Brothers for Nintendo DS is the second highest selling Mario title to date, proving that the world still loves Mario the best when he’s running from left to right.

March 2016 Update Much like Zelda 2, Super Mario Bros. 3 never really went away. It has since been launched for 3DS and Wii U, along with being remixed into NES Remix 2. It was also part of a reissued Super Mario Allstars for Wii in 2010.

Dr. Chaos

Dr Chaos
The only game mentioned in The Wizard that didn’t deserve a mention is Dr. Chaos. Oddly enough, even though Dr. Chaos was released in ’88, ads for the game weren’t created until ’90. Considering the fact The Wizard came out at the end of ’89, these ads were likely the result of Haley’s shout out of the game towards the end of the movie. Not sure if it did the title much good because Dr. Chaos began and ended with this game.

Other popular titles and series mentioned in The Wizard include Metroid, R.C. Pro-Am, Simon’s Quest, Mega Man 2, Contra, Rampage, and Super Mario Brothers 2. Aside from the Rare developed R.C. Pro-Am, all of those series are still relevant to this day.

March 2015 Update Some of these franchises are now waning. Mega Man, Contra and Metroid have not seen much in the way of significant new titles in years. Rereleases for all of these classic franchises of course continue. Rampage could have a potential resurgence with the movie starring The Rock. There is no date attached the film that I’m aware of, but I assume new games will be made and old ones will be rereleased when/if it is released.

The Power Glove

The Power Glove
The device that couldn’t deserves a nod as well. Always at the butt of an internet joke, the Power Glove is remembered for all the wrong reasons. It’s worth mentioning though that Nintendo never gave up on the idea of motion controls, and we can all see a bit of the Power Glove in the Wii controller.

For anyone who grew up during the height of the NES, it’s worth watching The Wizard for reliving the moment. For everyone else? It’s a terrible movie that serves as a good reference to what was popular in ’89.

Restore your N64 to its former glory

Nintendo 64

(Updated: 5/29/07: Added a few more images)

As much as we love to rag on Gamestop around here, earlier in the month they had an awesome clearance on old Nintendo 64 and Playstation 1 games. The pickings were slim, but for every 20 cartridges of WWF Warzone was a copy of Excitebike, F-Zero X or Pokemon Puzzle League waiting to be adopted. Needless to say, I picked up five games for under 10 bucks, not a bad haul by any means.

When I brought the games home to try out, my old N64 looked tired and worn. Not only did games barely start up, but the power and reset buttons felt like they had peanut butter in them. On top of that, all of the analog sticks on my controllers were positively worthless. It also didn’t help that the games from Gamestop looked like crap, loaded with stickers, smears, food, possibly fecal matter, and other hideous things. For a moment I thought about buying a new N64 and a set of controllers off eBay, but chances are that thing would be gross too. Instead, I decided it was time to breathe some life back into the aging Nintendo console.

The following guide will help you restore your Nintendo 64 and for a rather low price at that. It is by no means for experienced console modders, just people who wouldn’t mind putting a little polish onto their games. Best of all, most of these tips can be used for various consoles from the NES to the Genesis.

Dusty old N64

Old and ugly

Cleaning and Modding the N64

Considering the games weren’t starting upon hitting power, the cartridge loader probably needed a good cleaning. The first and most obvious thing I did was hop onto eBay and purchase a N64 cleaning kit for the control deck. The only way to clean out the sticky buttons would be to pop open the control deck, and the only way to pop open the console is with a 4.5mm screwbit, aka a GameBit. This tiny chunk of metal is a bit of a rip off but it’s the only way you’re going to get inside the console. Be warned you’ll need a 3.8mm Gamebit to crack open games. Other methods to open the unit include melting plastic, such as bic pens, and molding them to the screws. Don’t even waste your time. You’ll need to melt a pen for every screw, and then hope that you’ll be able to screw them back in later. Trust me, it’s not worth the time, hassle, or smell. I tried it while waiting for my Gamebit to arrive.

Tools of the trade

The Tools of the Trade

Steel 3.8mm Screwdriver Security Bit Open NES SNES Nintendo 64 & Game Boy Games

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, Original, 4 Count

Q-tips Cotton Swabs, 500 Count (1 Pack)

Security Bit Steel SET 3.8mm + 4.5mm Security Bit Screwdriver Tool (7cm Length) Open NES SNES N64 Super Nintendo 64 Cartridges & Systems

Redesigned REPLACEMENT Joystick for Nintendo 64 Controller Repair N64 Thumbstick Pad or

N64 Replacement Joystick – Nintendo 64


Once the items arrived I opened up the console with no problem. It was amazing how much dust and grime was packed away inside of the console. I popped out the power and reset buttons and gave them a thorough cleaning. Use a damp cotton swab (keep a small cup of water near you) to get into some of the crevices you can’t reach with a cloth. This is also a good time to take a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and go over the plastic on the console to take off whatever scuff marks and dirt are on there. As you’ll come to find, the Magic Eraser is key to making things look fantastic.

Since you have your console open, why not take the time to mod it? This way you can play Japanese N64 games without using a converter. There are two ways to mod the N64, and both methods sort of blow. The easy way is to simply remove the gray dust cover screwed into the top half of the unit. Doing so will also remove the doors that help keep dust out of the unit. Basically, you can play whatever you want on the console, but you’ll have a gigantic hole in it and dust will slowly gather unless you keep a game in there at all times.

Modded unit
That’s what you want to chop off

The second way is to remove the two tabs from the left and right of the dust tray. I did this by going to town on the thing with a pair of pliers. Serious modders would use a tool called a Dremmel, which would do it in seconds, but we’re doing this on the cheap. After butchering the dust tray, I reassembled the unit. It’s a small price to pay, but it looks so much better than having that hole in the top of the unit and it beats using the converter. You won’t miss those two tabs believe me.

Editor’s Note 2/27/2016I’m happy to see so many people read this guide! Much has changed since it was written ages ago, like people having access to 3D printers and making cool stuff. With a bit of searching you can find different outlets offering a Universal Nintendo 64 Tray. If you want to spend a few extra dollars, you can purchase one of these and play both Japanese and North American games on the same console without having the ugly butchered tabs.

Fixing the Controllers

The N64 analog stick: The biggest innovation, and the biggest piece of crap all rolled into one. Face it, as awesome as these things were, they break and turn to crap after throwing Bowser around one to many times. The problem is that the rest of the controller is fine, why should we have to throw these things away just because the analog stick is dead? The good news is all you need to throw out is the analog stick.

Replacement ananlog stick
The first thing I tried to do was take apart the analog stick and try to see if I could fix the problem. After trying it out myself and then following a tutorial I found on the net, I came to the conclusion there was no way I was fixing the thing. Yeah, I cleaned it up really nice and got all the grinded plastic out of it, but it didn’t have the snap and precision that it should. After a bit of web searching, I discovered that some places actually sell replacement analog sticks. I picked up a set of 4 of them for about 20 bucks, not to bad if you ask me.

The analog sticks are really easy to pop into the controller. Once you unscrew the controller, you’ll need to unscrew the analog stick pack. You will see that a few small cords, all of which lead to a tiny blue box connecting the pack. The pack is literally plugged into that box, so just remove it and then insert the new one. You’ll notice that these new sticks are actually refurbished, so someone knows how to fix them properly.

Editor’s Note 2/27/2016Well the sticks WERE refurbished then. Like my other note, many things have changed in the retro gaming scene since writing this article. It’s really easy to find replacement N64 sticks, most of them which are brand new. I linked it above, but there is also a different style N64 stick that looks like it’s more in line with a Gamecube Analog stick. I bought myself one of these a few years back and I love it. I know purists seem to have a bit of beef with them in regards to accuracy, but I personally haven’t had trouble using them and they’re super sturdy compared to the originals. Of course, the choice is yours!


Having your controller open, you’ll also notice that the thing is probably nasty and filled with grime and dirt. Take the time to really give it a good cleaning. Damp cotton swabs are key to making sure you get all of the dirt out of those hard to reach places. Make sure you clean all the holes the buttons rest in, then clean off all the buttons, and wipe down both sides of the controller shell with the Magic Eraser. Doing a good job will probably take you about an hour (per controller!) but it is totally worth the effort. I feel like I have four brand new N64 control pads.

Cleaning Games

Update: I actually have better and different cleaning methods for cartridges as explained in our NES restoration guide.

If you bought the N64 cleaning kit, then you’ll have everything you need to clean out your games. If you didn’t buy the kit, you can easily make your own cleaning solution. Pour some rubbing alcohol into a bowl, and then dilute it with a bit of water. Mix your new solution and then dip a cotton swab in it. Go back and forth on the connector of the cartridge and chances are the swab will turn black. Once you feel you have cleaned it well, take a dry swab and wipe it down. Let it sit for a while before you decide to throw it into the control deck. Editor’s Note 2/27/2016Or you could just use some Windex.

Dirty Game

75% off that price

Being that all the games I purchased the other day were used, not only do they have obnoxious Gamestop stickers on them, but also sport all sorts of bad things from their previous owner(s). To remove the stickers, grab some Windex or Alcohol and rub a bit of it into the sticker. Let it soak up and then remove the sticker with a razor blade/box cutter. Things get a little tricky when there is a sticker on top of a sticker that you want to keep (like the cover art or warning labels), so try seeing what you can get off with just using the razor blade. Since the cover stickers are glossy, don’t be afraid to get them a little wet. In fact, I recommend putting a bit of Windex onto a paper towel or cloth and shining the sticker up. Just make sure you dry it off as soon as you’re finished.

Removing sticker

Once you get those nasty stickers off, use the Magic Eraser to get rid of the glue left behind, as well as the scuffmarks and dirt on the cartridge. Try not to hit the cover sticker with the Magic Eraser; I could see it doing a good number on the cover sticker. With a bit of effort, you’ll make these games look and play like new. Worth the effort if you’re a collector who wants their collection to look pretty.

Cleaned Game

You now have a clean and fully restored N64. If you’re up to doing this project, keep in mind it is going to take several hours. I did all of this over the course of a few days just for fun.

Cleaned up N64
Better than ever

Liked this article? You might also like:
Ultimate Guide to Restoring the NES
SNES Controller: The Most Influential Game Pad Ever?

Turtle Power – A look at the Highs and Lows of TMNT

TMNT Header

With the release of the new theatrical Ninja Turtle movie, simply titled TMNT, I feel it’s time to take a moment to share a little retrospective of my favorite green machines. When I hear the words “Ninja Turtles” I can’t help but think back to my youth, the days when Turtle Power meant something, and when saying “radical” was acceptable, and cool.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw the Ninja Turtles; I hated them. My memory is a little fuzzy, but I remember a kid in my class brought the toys into school one day. A friend of mine and I were playing around with them when we decided that they were “stupid,” and proceeded to act like assholes and tear off their heads (that was when they had the soft heads). Immediately we realized we did bad and tried to reattach the heads, but failed. So we left them in a corner and probably went and ruined something else instead. Youths… a bunch of assholes.

However, I suppose the memory of tearing their heads off never left me. Not much later I remember going shopping with my Mom for a day, and I spotted a copy of the cartoon series on VHS. After a bit of begging, my Mom rented the tape for me, and from that moment on, I was a Turtle fan for life.

The High Points
While it’s totally laughable looking back at it, the original cartoon series of Ninja Turtles was probably the best thing I have ever seen in my life. I mean, what could be better than a cartoon with kick ass turtles that were ninjas? They stood for justice, pizza, and hung out with a girl who had the biggest rack in New York City. They sound like heroes to me.

The cartoon was a goofy affair, but the Turtles were all rather likable. I think it helped that each of the Turtles had really good voice actors, all of which who have had a huge career in voice acting. Raphael, voiced by Rob Paulson, can be heard in what seems like hundreds of cartoons, video games, and movies to this day. Leonardo, voiced by Cam Clark, is also in the same boat as Paulson. As a bonus to Metal Gear Solid fans, Clark voices Liquid Snake in every title Liquid appears in, and Paulson lent his voice to Ninja in The Twin Snakes. Overall it’s a rather lousy cartoon that hasn’t aged well, but if you have a craving, I highly recommend picking up the first DVD that was released about two years ago. It has the first 4 episodes of the show that feature a single story arc, and they’re actually not half bad. As a bonus, you can see how awful the show progressed as it includes a bunch of episodes that were “never released” and for good reason.

TMNT Cartoon

Back in the day, the only thing better than the cartoon was the original live action movie. I remember watching that movie for the first time, being completely blown away. Not only were the Turtles themselves technical wonders, they were even more badass than in the cartoon. I mean, Raphael actually said “damn,” and more than once might I add. It was obvious to a 10 year old that these Turtles were more than capable of beating the hell out of the cartoon ones. The Turtles in the movie were a completely different breed of turtle. I would also like to point out, that the original movie has aged fairly well. It is by no means a masterpiece, but it’s still enjoyable and likely the best Turtle movie you’ll ever get to see.

Then there were the video games. Thank god that Konami secured the license to make the video games, because if there was ever a company that needed to make games based on TMNT, it was Konami. As a result, there were plenty of really good TMNT games spread across all the major platforms.

The original NES title is regarded as the worst of the lot, but you know, I’m going to argue that. Yeah, it looked ugly even back in the day, it’s sorely missing a password system, it ridiculously glitchy, and it’s beyond hard, but I still like it. It had more depth than the ‘beat ‘em up’ Turtle games, and being able to switch each Turtle on the fly was a cool bonus. I liked the untraditional stage layouts, and the game had some pretty cool tunes to boot.

Both of the arcade games, TMNT: The Arcade Game and TMNT: Turtles in Time are extremely memorable. If there was one thing Konami was good at, it was taking a shallow beat ‘em up game and making it fun by making great use of the source material (The Simpsons, X-Men, Turtles, Bucky ‘o Hare). Shallow games? Yup. Always awesome? Of course. The original arcade game was ported to the NES as TMNT 2: The Arcade game. At the time it was an amazing port, but it hasn’t aged to well with its slow pacing, unnecessary 2 new stages (they just made it longer and more boring) and unforgivable use of Pizza Hut branding. The SNES port of Turtles in Time was damn amazing, and aside from some missing frames of animation, a few bad guy swaps, a handful of missing voice samples and lack of 4 player co-op, it was as close to perfect as you could get. There was also a decent Genesis title called “The Hyperstone Heist” and a solid third NES game called “The Manhattan Project.”

The games didn’t end there though, I believe the original Gameboy had three Turtle games (I only played the first one), and there were multiple versions of TMNT: Tournament Fighters spread across all the major consoles at the time. I only played the SNES version of the game, and I thought it was a decent fighter at the time. It didn’t replace Street Fighter, but it was better than Mortal Kombat, and the countless other fighting game turds that appeared on the console. I’m 100% positive all the versions of this game were completely different.

TMNT Games

I would sing praises about the comic series that started it all, but I’ll be honest, I never actually read many of them. Looking at the history of the comic, there were so many different variations of the Turtles that it’s kind of tough to nail down a “golden age” of them, though I’m willing to bet the book that the movie was based on was probably when the Turtles came into their own.

The Low Points
The first movie was so amazing, the follow up had to be even more amazing, right? Wrong. The second theatrical release, TMNT: The Secret of the Ooze was a step in the opposite direction. Long gone were the badass turtles of the first movie. Instead, they were replaced by a bunch of dopey morons dressed as the Ninja Turtles, and beat up bad guys with hot dogs, and yoyos, among other objects. You really couldn’t sink much lower. I remember being really disappointed with the movie as I watched it, but then there was a promise of an amazing battle between the Turtles and the two new mutant bad guys. The two are about to clash, and I found myself getting more excited, and then right when the battle was about to start, the Turtles defeat them with donuts. Oh well, there is still Super Shredder at the end, right? No, he just kills himself by acting like a big asshole and tearing down a dock. Boo.

Then there is the third movie, which is one of the most atrocious pieces of film making in cinematic history. I’d write more about it, but the Angry Video Game Nerd summed it up best with his (genius) review of the flick.

As if it wasn’t bad enough that the second and third movies sucked so bad, some ass in a suite decided that the Ninja Turtles should drop their weapons, and pick up instruments. It was time for the Turtles to tour America and play awful songs, and it was time for the fans to cry. The TMNT: Coming Out of Their Shells Tour was probably the most insulting thing you could have done not only the fans, but also the Turtles.

However, if you enjoyed watching awful shows, I highly suggest finding a copy of the Coming Out of Their Shells Tour, as it offers an hour and a half of absolute stupidity. The real gem though, is the behind the scenes video of the tour, which offers 20 minutes of the most unreal segments you could possibly think of. Below is a little clip I edited together of just some of the madness that occurs in this show, and it’s amazing.

After The Hype
Sometime during the mid 90s the TMNT franchise was practically killed. There weren’t many fans left, and between the awful movies and the crappy Tour, Turtle Power was at it’s lowest. That doesn’t mean the Turtles totally went away though, you’d be surprised to learn that the Turtles never really went away at all.

The cartoon series continued on for a few more seasons, getting worse and worse. By the end, Shredder wasn’t even the bad guy anymore, replaced by some stupid alien in a space ship, and Michelangelo’s nunchucks were replaced with a grappling hook.

Then there was the live action TV series on Fox, TMNT: The Next Mutation. This awful show featured the turtles with a slightly new look, and probably the worst offender of the entire Ninja Turtles legacy; a female Ninja Turtle… with boobs. This show was unwatchable, and apparently kids thought so too, as it only had one season.

TMNT Next Mutation

In what had to be the biggest jump the shark moment in Turtle history, the Ninja Turtles of this new show teamed up with the Power Rangers, and at that moment, the sun moved just a little closer to the earth. Scope a peak below, you’ll hate yourself.

The Come Back
A few years ago the Turtles got a complete remake and a new cartoon series on Fox. I didn’t watch it, but I get the feeling if I were a kid I would have loved it. From what I saw it was a decent new take on the franchise, and it featured some really nice designs of the Turtles. It has done well enough to earn multiple seasons, and Konami picked up the franchise again and made a bunch of new TMNT games over the last console generation. The games weren’t good, but it was nice to see the Turtles on the rise again.

I suppose this newfound success has lead to the development of the new TMNT movie. I have a feeling that the movie is going to be absolutely awful, but you know what? I hope it’s a surprise hit and steals number 1 at the box office. I’m getting pumped up for it regardless; it’s going to be nice to see my old friends.