Ok well it wasn't a year, it was more like a few weeks, which is forever when your 9 going on 10.
Ill never forget the day I turned the corner and was stopped dead in my tracks by this:
First let me set the stage. Like many kids in elementary school we were always go to Birthday parties on the weekend. One of the main joints was Peter Piper Pizza, a Chuck E. Cheese clone that was mostly in the Southwest.
This place was the usual kid corral: pizza, ball pit, VIDEO GAMES(!), and I think they even had a Rockafire Explosion there.
All right, enough with the intro! I put my quarter in and I was hooked! From the opening sequence where the Turtles swoop down to rescue April my mouth was wide open. These were such awesome graphics. There were more than one kind of foot soldier, there were TONS! 2 minutes in and BAM! Shell Shock! I then realized that this game was going to be harder than I thought.
After a few tries I made it to Rocksteady. I just kept hitting and hitting him until he finally fell! I beat him on the first try! I started the second level and right away Shell Shock! Boo! Well at least I made it past the first level. Unfortunately my parents were there to pick me up so I was unable to continue my mission. But as we left I looked back at TMNT and I made a vow that I would very soon defeat the Shredder.
After that I would make sure to use any excuse to make it to an arcade to play the game. Another birthday party? Don't mind if I do. Why yes mom I'll go with you to SEARS to look for new comforters. Every time I would play the game I made it a little farther. I remember how hopeless I felt when I had to fight Bebop and Rocksteady at the same time. And the elation I felt when I finally beat them. I still remember being blown away by the skateboard level. I loved this game! And my dad being the awesome dad he was noticed my obsession with the game.
Finally my dad told me "Son, this weekend I'm taking you to the mall and we are going to beat that game!" The problem was that he told me on a Monday. For the rest of the week I could not concentrate in class, could not enjoy my shows, could not even enjoy Fajita night. All that was on my mind was my date Saturday with Aladdin's Castle. If you've seen the episode of "Doug" where he gets into the Super Pretendo than you know what I felt like. Silt is...
Finally the big day came. I don't remember much about that morning so I'm pretty sure I followed the usual routine: breakfast, cartoons, etc. Finally sometime after noon my dad told me to get ready. I still remember "Little Shop of Horrors" was on TV as we left. The 8 minute trip to the Mall seemed to take forever. Finally we were parked and started into the mall. I took off at "kid speed" where you're a little ahead of your parents but not too far ahead so you wouldn't get in trouble.
I ran into Aladdin's Castle. I found my way through the maze of people and arcade cabinets. Finally I came upon it. There it was, and it would bow before me today. No one was on it. I put in my quarter. So did my dad, he was going to join me. We fought our way through foot soldier after foot soldier, boss after boss. My dad had played in arcades before I was born and played on his Atari 2600 so he was at home in this game. I remember being impressed by his play. Around the factory level my dad shell shocked and stepped away from the cabinet. I was now alone, but I knew I could do it. Finally I beat Granitor. This was the furthest I had ever made it. I was going into unfamiliar territory now.
There it was, the Technodrome. I saw Donatello's sprite approach it and jump in. I began the last level ready to kick butt. Foot Soldier after foot soldier fell, but it seemed like there were to many of them, plus giant balls coming from the ceiling and lasers coming at me from the wall. Then I heard it, "Cowabunga!" Another kid had joined me. Within seconds two more Cowabungas! rang out and Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael were all joining in for the final battle. I also began to notice a crowd forming around us as this 9 year old and a couple of teens were taking down this game. General Traag fell, and we proceeded to Krang. and then Shredder. I was actually a little disappointed in how anti-climactic Shredder was in comparison to Krang but it was still awesome.
And that was it. I had beaten the game. I had accomplished the goal I had set out to do. I had a sense of euphoria as the closing credits rolled. However I also had a sinking feeling of emptiness. It may sound silly now but in my mind I was wondering what I was living for now. I now had to return to my normal life. I would not be as looking forward to the next weekend as I had this one. Oh yes I had bragging rights at school but that was it. I was Adam, the kid who beat TMNT, and that was it.
But the point was that I did beat it. That could never be taken away from me. All my friends back at school congratulated me, and I had made it to the fraternity of cool people who beat games at the arcade.
I remember getting the TMNT Arcade for the NES not long after. However I was not as big of a fan of this version. I did not like the extra levels and the extra foot soldiers. I wanted a challenge not something unbeatable (but I did beat). I did, however, like the fact that you could use the Konami code.
A real quick addendum. In late 1992 I was 12 and wandering around the mall. Because of my age I was allowed to wander the mall by myself. I found myself back at Aladdin's castle and saw the Simpsons Arcade. On a whim I decided to play it. About an hour later I had beaten it. No crowd or extra help, but I did beat it. I had flashback to the TMNT Arcade while playing this. It is also an excellent game.
My wife (coincidentally named April)and I currently live in a small town about 20 miles out of Austin, TX. We were thrilled in the Fall of 2012 when some enterprising young people decided to open a local arcade. It was called the Joystick and when my wife and I walked in we were suddenly taken back to our childhoods. Before us was Tekken, Killer Instinct, Mortal Kombat, Cruising USA, Street Fighter II, DDR, Galaga, Pac-man, 1942, etc, etc. For the first few weeks it was our Saturday Night hangout randomly playing old classics. We then set aside 2 goals: We were going to beat Simpsons Arcade and TMNT Arcade. So the next Saturday we enjoyed our sushi dinner and headed to the Joystick. We set no limit on how much we were going to spend. I picked Bart and my wife picked Lisa. Oh we were rusty but the skill hadn't left us completely. We passed level after level until we finally defeated Mr. Burns. we high-fived. We bragged to our friends on Facebook and also informed them of our plan to take on TMNT Arcade the next week. One of our friends even told us he was going to make the trip down from Austin to join us. Unfortunately the next weekend we got busy and were unable to make the trip. A few days after that the Joystick announced they were closing effective immediately. They were just not making enough money to pay the lease.
The sad decline of the Arcade continues. Of course it can be argued that Arcades are making a comeback but they only seem to thrive in larger cities. The nearest arcade to us is more than an hour away. Some argue that Arcades are not needed as the graphics of home consoles have improved dramatically.
Although home consoles are fun sometimes you want to go to a public place with friends to bash a few foot soldiers.