Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Does Konami reignite the excitement of past Turtles games, or drop a cel-shaded turd? We reveal all.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was one of the many totally out of control fads of the eighties. Of course the turtles were strong enough to last into the 90's and spawn several movies and even video games, which is more than many of the other late 80's franchises could pull claim. Now they're back in action with with a new show on Saturday mornings - and a new videogame is here to greet them.
There is one thing that truly stands out the first time you play this game. While the cel shaded look does seem a bit trendy or even common nowadays, it really does fit this particular title because it's supposed to be an extension of the cartoon. The cartoon is even featured in cut-scenes and the look is almost interchangeable.
The four turtles are all present, each sporting the traditional pads, each with their respective color and weapons. Each turtle really does look awesome. They look like they were transplanted right from the cartoon - although they don't animate quite as well, sharing generic movements. It would have been better to distinguish each turtle after all they all use unique weapons and therefore different fighting styles.
Backgrounds and enemies are run of the mill and very reminiscent of the old TMNT games and shows. The backgrounds and lighting are comparable to the mood of a comic book, with words like "bam", "pow" and "ka-blam" written in comic book font when enemies are struck.
Aside from the shredder, the mousers and Baxter Stockman, there are very few enemies that fans will recognize. While this certainly doesn't make things bad, it does make things a little less interesting for people who are not fans of the new show and want to play for pure nostalgia. This does allow for new characters to be introduced and opens the door for some new designs and even new story aspects. So we see new enemies in the game, like the red dragon gang, as well as new versions of those old favorites. It's nice to see the graphics wrapped up into such a nice package.
Turtles games have historically been quite visually impressive. Sadly the actual gameplay has never matched. The controls are just plain normal. Movement is fluid enough with the control sticks, and the other buttons are used for attacking and throwing stars. Each turtle does have slightly different attack combos but they are generally all the same. After about ten minutes players will quickly realize that they are just pushing the same buttons over and over. This repetition could be the game's biggest drawback; many will probably either get bored before they finish, or finish quickly and not see any reason to go back through it.
There is a straightforward fighting mode but it's very boring and not worth anyone's time really. Playing through the game itself with another player offers up a slice of nostalgic though, but it's limited to only two players at a time, which is a great shame. There really are no other modes of play. The fighting, the story and then a time challenge mode. The replay value is out the window for sure. If nothing else, the Turtles at least control decently, but the repetitiveness will most likely keep people from appreciating it. In short, Konami tried to recreate something that worked 10 years ago, simply transferring gameplay that old is highly unlikely to work, especially in a genre that has evolved a great deal in this short time.
The game's voices are like a broken record. It wouldn't be so bad if they didn't play so frequently, or if there was more variety. Sadly we get to hear "slice and dice" 50 times a minute. The voices are straight from the show, which is cool once again, but seriously why would anyone want to hear the same line over and over? We're not storing on 8-bit cartridges anymore. You're probably better off playing this one without the sound.
The music is also your standard rock and roll action game fanfare. Each level presents another generic tune to take some focus off the over used voices. This game just sounds below average. There is very little chance that you'll be humming the music, unless of course you like the new theme song, which could never replace the old one in my book. If your gonna play put something in the CD player. It's games like this that could really use the custom soundtrack feature on the Xbox.
Turtles is a disappointing game. I enjoyed playing it for a while but I never really felt the magic from yesteryear, even though that was what Konami was shooting for. It might be the times, but this game just wasn't done right. With good-looking comic book style visuals, it's sad the game suffers from repetitive controls and horribly bland sound. Unlike the days of Super Nintendo, I don't think any franchise can be put into the "Double Dragon" model during this current console generation. Gamers seem to be getting into the niche games, the new and innovative stuff. Expect turtles to enjoy some success because of old fans coming back for more and the seasonal rush, but after that it'll be in the bargain bin.