I knew this game would be bad coming into this review. We didn’t even know it was coming out, we didn’t even ask for a review copy. It just appeared like the haunted video tape in The Ring and I knew it was going to be about as much fun as it too. But no matter how much you know better, there is always a little part of you that lives to hope; at this point I think it’s called Sonic Fan Syndrome. That part of me died a little bit after playing this game though.
Let’s start off by clearing up some confusion that many have been having with this game. This is not the arcade title TMNT: Out of the Shadows though you’d be forgiven for confusing the two. Both games are based in the current Nickelodeon iteration of the turtles and both are third-turtle brawlers. Why on earth Nickelodeon decided to have two unrelated games made about their series with such close launch dates is beyond me, but here we are anyway.
We might as well dive right into this rancid sewer of a video game then, starting with the story. Sing it with me folks, Shredder and the rest of the baddies are up to no good trying to take over New York city, the turtles do some investigating, April gets kidnapped, you fight your way to Shredder and rescue her. Work with what you know I guess. The plot, whilst boring and predictable, is functional enough in driving the gameplay, if only because the gameplay is so bad that the ingredients list on a packet of salt would weave an interesting enough narrative for this level of gameplay.
After playing for about 5 minutes, and if you’re old enough to have owned a Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, you’ll come to a pretty stark realisation…this is just Streets of Rage. Sure it may be modelled in a 3D engine but it’s still just walking across the screen under the regime of a fixed camera, wailing on dudes until a giant arrow pops up saying you can move on to the next bit.
At least Streets of Rage showed some variation in its backgrounds though. TMNT has some of the laziest level design I’ve ever seen in a video game. City levels are just an endless walk down a road with the same 5 or 6 buildings in the background, sewer levels consist entirely of sewer tube, room, sewer tube, room. If you’re lucky it will be a room with some generic sewer machinery knocking about in it. Even after all this lazy level design, there are repeat levels where you have to go back to the same place as before, such as the Shellraiser level where you fight on top of the turtles’ sweet ride whilst it zooms about the city.
The combat is woeful at best. There is one combo available at the start of the game, the world famous X, X, X. Once you upgrade your turtles, they can perform advanced combos such as X, X, X, X or even the mythical X, X, X, X, X. You can also press B to perform a special move if your special bar is high enough, or press Y to throw stunned enemies into each other, skips or even the screen. Yes, throwing a ninja at the screen and watching him slide down it is funny the first couple of times you do it, but it quickly gets old and more importantly it blocks the entire screen so you can’t see what you’re doing.
Don’t worry, I’m not done beating on the combat, I just needed two paragraphs to do it. Hit detection is iffy at best, as is the ‘press Y to throw stunned enemies’ mechanic which just flat out ignores you half of the time. Enemies all have a heavy attack which causes them to glow red and telegraph so hard that people playing a different game will see the attack coming. This attack also makes them invulnerable, drawing out combat unnecessarily as you’re forced to stand just out of range of their stupid attack and wait for it to finish. Of course, sometimes enemies will just spam this attack, because why wouldn’t you spam an attack that makes you invincible?
The enemies themselves are varied enough, one of TMNT’s only saving graces. You’ll fight various types of ninja, Kraang, Mousers, etc. The bosses are pretty varied too, featuring all the villains from the TMNT show both new and old. Shredder is obviously around and Baxter Stockman pops his head up. Those of you who only know the turtles from their earlier adventures might not recognise a few new faces such as Dogpound, but they are a well-rounded bunch.
Graphically the game is mediocre, only receiving such an esteemed descriptions as that because they stayed true to the art style of the television show. Even then the textures are muddy, flat and low resolution. Given that this game is only on the Wii and 3DS in addition to the Xbox 360, you’d expect it to be lacking in the graphical department but even so, the Wii can kick out prettier games than this easily.
The voice actors from the series all reprise their roles, which the exception of Leonardo’s voice actor Jason Biggs, presumably because they couldn’t afford him or he was busy sticking things in a pie or something. Weirdly, most of the voice actors sound fine but one or two of the turtles (I can’t remember which ones and can’t face putting the disc back in the Xbox to find out) sound like their audio was recorded in someone’s bedroom using a webcam microphone. My assumption here is that the fancy well-known actors all got the star treatment, but budget Jason Biggs was a last minute job.
The dialogue itself is pretty standard fare. All those PG-13 insults being slung around such as butthead; just once I’d like hear the turtles call Shredder a ******* **** or something. Whilst I may not get my wish of anything as profane as that (trust me, it was pretty hardcore under all those asterisks), the writers still managed to sneak in plenty of innuendo. Donatello asking his enemies “How does my staff taste?” was a particular one that gave me a chuckle. The only charm to be found in this game is in the characters themselves. If you’re a turtle fan then the dialogue is decent enough and you’ll be suitably engrossed in the turtles’ world.
So there we have it, a lazy Streets of Rage clone with bad combat, bad level design and mediocre graphics. The only real positive about this game is what it brings over from the vastly superior television show; the voice actors (minus the pie guy). Oh yeah and it’s an easy 1000G if you’re a bit of an achievement hunter like myself. OK I’m done, off to order some pizza. Cowabunga and all that jazz.