Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review (Wii/360/3DS): “Ahh…Shell Shock”

TMNT 2013 Wallpaper

Over time, we’ve seen some stellar media franchises progress over the years. One particular franchise that’s had numerous changes has been the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Between it’s dark toned comic, chipper late 80s/early 90s cartoon, to the comic-based 2003 cartoon and now, Nickelodeon’s rendition that started in 2012, there’s no question we’ve seen the turtles in a variety of ways. However, if there’s one thing that fans of the franchise will remain fond of, it’s the video games that released in the early 90s. Whether it be TMNT: Turtles in Time, TMNT II: The Arcade Game, TMNT: Hyperstone Heist, TMNT III: Manhattan Project or even the 2003 TMNT game for the PS2/GC/Xbox, they’ve always been known for their downright fun, beat-em-up gameplay. Well, with a new media rendition comes a new game based on the latest cartoon. Developed by Magic Pockets and published by Activision, is the turtle’s latest return a radical one or should it stay in the sewers?

Story: 2/5

There’s one thing for sure: TMNT games are never really known for their story. However, if you plan on incorporating one, make sure it’s somewhat coherent. Unfortunately, TMNT’s story here mainly falls flat. The turtles are thrown into mischief as there’s a mutagen bomb that Stockman plans on detonating in NYC that will turn all its inhabitants into vile creatures. Fans of the show will instantly recognize characters such as Fishface, Dogpound, the blob known as “Justin”, Krang bots, Foot Ninja, Karai, and naturally, Shredder. The story is told through very brief cutscenes with minimal dialogue just to remind you there’s something to connect the player to the scenario. However, as opposed to the story being somewhat engaging, it’s very shoddily pieced together. It doesn’t help that the presentation of the story is downright poor and incredibly rushed. Even though it’s nice to see familiar faces return, the story is minimal and very subpar.

TMNT 2013 Gameplay 1

Gameplay: 2/5

“Well, that was incredibly mediocre.“ Leonardo states this numerous times throughout the game, and it pretty much sums up the gameplay of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The game is designed as an old-school style brawler where you can choose between all four turtles on the fly, which is nice since you don’t have to wait to lose a life before choosing another character as had been done in previous TMNT games. This option gives you the chance to try out any of the characters during any point in the game. Yet while each turtle has their different variation of moves, they are very limited and the game becomes more of a continuous button masher. Each turtle has a basic attack move, a special attack, and a throw feature (along with jumping). The problem is that the moves and gameplay are incredibly repetitive. Each level is a series of areas where you need to defeat a horde of foot ninjas and Krang bots. Once destroyed, you continue on your path until you do it all over again. This continues until you complete the level.

TMNT 2013 Gameplay 5

There are 5 levels in TMNT and each level contains 3-4 sub-levels. Yet with the exception of the last sub-level on each level, you are basically attacking enemies until you complete the level. There are some minor collectibles that you can locate in order to gain more points, and pickup items such as throwing stars and smoke bombs, but they are pretty much useless in the game as you can just slash your way through everything. At certain moments, you can access your camera device to locate hidden doors. If you locate them, you can find additional mutagen canisters needed to unlock a mini-game (which is essentially the classic arcade game “Defender”, TMNT style) in the Extras area. The last sub-level is a boss battle that pits you against some of the main enemies from the TV show, such as Dogpound, Baxter Stockman and the Shredder. These boss battles deliver a change of pace and strategy, which was refreshing, but not enough to help ease the boredom that the game delivers. The game is also extremely short, taking only about 2-3 hours to complete, and in a way, I’m glad it was short because of how tedious it is. While you can co-op your way through the game on the Wii and 360, the 3DS is mysteriously missing this option, which is strange. I did enjoy the ability to upgrade each turtle by collecting orbs from defeated enemies and then using them to update your characters strength and move set, but most of the upgrades aren’t even needed to complete the story mode.

Once you do finish the game, other options become available to you, such as Time Attack and Survival Mode, but they are more of the same and offer nothing new to the experience. You can tell that the game is geared towards a younger audience based on the easy difficulty, and that Nickelodeon wanted to quickly put out a product that aligned with the popular show.

TMNT 2013 Gameplay 3

Graphics: 2/5

Let me start off by saying, the versions I am reviewing are the Wii and 3DS version, not the Xbox 360 (which is already an odd assortment of consoles they chose to develop for…omitting the PS3, Vita and Wii U). However, even for a Wii game 7 years into the console’s lifecycle, the visuals here are less than average. Washed out textures, incredibly blocky character models, stiff animations and lifeless, mundane environments round TMNT to be one of the most inexcusable visual games for 2013. The TMNT game that released in 2003 for the PS2/GC/Xbox looked next-gen compared to this…and that was 10 years ago! When I look at a 10 year old game and am immediately blown away by the comparison, it’s just plain sad. On the 3DS, it’s a bit more excusable and less ugly due to the condensed resolution. The only benefit visually is that the game runs quite smooth, with only a few rare instances of slowdown.

TMNT 2013 Gameplay 2

Sound: 2/5

Turtles games have relied heavily on energetic soundtracks to really engage the player during the beat-em-up fun, with the pinnacle soundtracks being Turtles in Time and Hyperstone Heist. What we have here is something that matches the tone of the show a bit, which is fine. Although there’s nothing memorable to leave the game humming too, it’s still serviceable background music that neither adds or detracts from the experience. The voice actors from the TV show reprise their roles, but they all fail to deliver any excitement to the game. Some of the line deliveries just don’t match the tone of certain scenarios and just feel stiff. For example, there’s a boss battle where April will keep shouting “keep it up guys, you’ve almost got him!” but I didn’t even hit the boss once yet. The boss battle lasts for about 5 minutes and she repeats it every 20 seconds…so do the math and it’s pretty nonsensical. Worse yet, occasionally some voices will be blown out while others will be much lower. Sound effects are pretty poor overall as well, feeling like stock sound effects for an amateur game development program.

TMNT 2013 Gameplay 4

Overall Score: 8/20 = 4.0 out of 10

When I heard there was a new TMNT game coming out, it was easy for me to get excited. Being a die-hard turtles fan, I’m always eager to play a new game in the series. However, what I was left with was an immensely rushed and pale imitation of the SNES/Genesis beat-em-ups from years past. What the game lacks is soul. It feels lifeless, generic and doesn’t have anything that the older TMNT games didn’t do better…in 1992 or even 2003. While I had the slightest mild enjoyment playing this game for the fact that it was a TMNT game, the game itself is just incredibly dull and unimaginative. The only thing going through my head as I played it was, “Ahh…Shell Shock”.

PROs:

+ Has the show’s intro

+ Turtles can be upgraded

+ 4-player co-op on Wii/360

CONs:

– Ugly visuals

– Awful audio mixing

– Subpar, rushed storytelling

– Unimaginative, bland levels

– Very spotty hit detection

– Too easy

– 3DS version omitted co-op completely

A special thank you to Activision for providing us a review copy for “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”! Copy tested on the Wii and 3DS.

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Cowabunga! The Ninja Turtles are “Out of the Shadows” This Summer

TMNT-tmnt-22587793-1344-1056

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans will finally be getting a new game soon. Aptly named “TMNT: Out of the Shadows”, it will be a digital only affair for the PSN, XBLA and PC. Out of the Shadows will be published by Activision. This is a follow up to last year’s annoucement of Activision purchasing the rights of the series. It has been confirmed that Activison intends to release at least three titles in the next three years. This would make a TMNT trilogy for fans missing the series in recent years. It was also stated that these three titles are based on the newly released Nickelodeon cartoon.

In the game, players take on the role of one of the ninja turtles and fight criminals using famed moves and melee weapons. The highlight of the game is promised to be the four player online co-op. Red Fly Studios will be developing the game for the PSN, XBLA, and STEAM. The developer’s not a stranger to licensed games, as they released the Wii versions of “Thor: God of Thunder” and “Ghostbusters: The Video Game”. The game will be due out this summer for the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC. For more news on this or any other topic, be sure to keep it locked onto Gamers Xtreme, and as always “Game On!”

Top 10 SEGA Genesis Soundtracks

Sega Genesis, a console that rivaled the Super Nintendo and truly started the concept of “Console Wars” (nowhere near as bad as it is today with the PS3 vs 360 though).  The Sega Genesis had some really excellent games with exceptional soundtracks, as well as some terrible games that still maintained great soundtracks.  This week’s “Top 10 Soundtracks” may have a few titles that you’re not expecting or you may have completely forgotten about.  Here’s my top 10 soundtracks that stood out to me the most during the Genesis era.

 

– Superman

If you played the Superman game for the Sega Genesis, you’ll know that it was a pretty bad game.  Stiff controls, poor gameplay design and outrageous difficulty made this game well…not so super.  However, it did have a saving grace…it’s soundtrack.  Even if the game was bad, I made sure to keep playing it to listen in on the awesome soundtrack.  The boss song alone was just…well, have a listen below and you’ll probably understand why the soundtrack is that good!

 

– Streets of Rage 2

One of the best Sega Genesis titles that had one of the best soundtracks not only for the Genesis, but out of every game out there for any console.  Streets of Rage 2 had an extremely dynamic soundtrack from composer Yuzo Koshiro that really helped make this already brilliant game achieve a true “masterpiece” status.  By infusing a club-style score, this was one soundtrack that you could listen to at any place, any time.

 

– Sonic and Knuckles

Back in the days where Sonic was recognized as a signature franchise, his titles boasted great soundtracks.  While this one was a tough decision, Sonic and Knuckles was the one that was most memorable for me.  Every single track was brilliantly composed to perfectly fit each zone throughout the game.  Sure, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is the one that many people cherish but I personally felt Sonic and Knuckles had a better soundtrack thanks to the fact that every single song stood out.

 

– Earthworm Jim

Shiny Entertainment’s first big title, Earthworm Jim was ahead of it’s time offering diverse gameplay mechanics, wacky humor, state-of-the-art character animations and a terrific soundtrack.  Sure, the game was very frustrating at points, but will still remain a classic.  GROOVY!

 

– Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master

Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master was one of the best 2D platformers to ever grace the Sega Genesis.  It dramatically improved on the gameplay mechanics of Revenge of the Shinobi by offering more variety in gameplay, much tighter controls, beautiful visuals and a soundtrack that certainly deserves a spot in the hall of fame of game soundtracks (yes, I know I just made that up).  Also, name another game where a Ninja fights his enemies while riding a jet surfboard to awesome music…yeah, didn’t think you could.

 

– Vectorman

Vectorman was released towards the end of the 16-bit era but pushed the Genesis past it’s limits.  Blue Sky Software really pushed the hardware by offering top-notch visuals, intuitive gameplay and a soundtrack worthy of it’s own CD release (which it did have).

 

– Castlevania: Bloodlines

The Castlevania franchise is notorious for it’s soundtracks and their single release for the Genesis certainly stood out.  It was the first time Castlevania fans were introduced to the “Iron Blue Intention” piece which was the start of a new brilliant song. It’s as incredible as “Bloody Tears” was to hear the first time you heard it while playing Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest (which I mentioned in my “Top 10 NES Soundtracks”).

 

– Rocket Knight Adventures

Here’s a title that was extremely underrated.  I remember going to Blockbuster to rent a game and picking this out.  My brother at the time didn’t think it was going to be that great and questioned my choice…until we actually played it.  Rocket Knight Adventures was as perfect of a 2D platformer that one could ask for.  Colorful visuals, tight gameplay and a soundtrack that would surprise most people, Rocket Knight Adventures had it all.  Whether it was something cutesy, to something more upbeat, to a really dark boss theme and final level theme, this was one soundtrack that must be witnessed if you haven’t already.  Also, if you never played this game, shame on you…

 

– Contra Hard Corps

Contra Hard Corps is considered a fan favorite amongst Contra fans…and for good reasons.  It was the first Contra title to introduce choice-based gameplay that affected the story and what levels you’d play through.  It was also one of, if not the, most difficult Contra game ever made.  Just from the opening level and music alone, you knew that you were in for a hell of game, both in difficulty and gameplay.

 

– TMNT Hyperstone Heist

No matter how you slice it, TMNT games back in the 90’s had excellent soundtracks to boot with it.  Similar to what I stated about Super Mario Bros 3’s soundtrack in my “Top 10 NES Soundtracks” article, this was another game that I’d hum or whistle the music to.  Classic music to a classic game.  By the way, this song below should play in every elevator I walk into from now on…

 

Agree or disagree with my selection?  Be sure to sound off your thoughts in the comments!

TMNT TURTLES IN TIME RE-SHELLED RETURNING TO THE SEWERS AFTER JUNE 30TH…FOREVER

“Ahhh…Shellshock!”  If you notice on the PlayStation Store, one of the ads is for TMNT Turtles in Time Re-Shelled saying “Last Chance to Purchase!”  Well, apparently the turtles are going back to the sewers after June 30th (according to Joystiq whom asked Ubisoft for confirmation), meaning the game is being pulled from the PSN and XBLA in the US.

Going back to the sewers...

This is certainly a strange move on Ubisoft’s part.  Granted the remake wasn’t as much of a classic as the SNES version of Turtles in Time but it was still really fun nonetheless.  Either way, if you ever had any interest in getting TMNT Turtles in Time Re-Shelled, now would be the time!