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SummaryThe Turtles are back!
The GoodWith the return of the Ninja Turtles to comic and tv it made perfect sense to license once again the videogame adaptations to Konami so as to once again cash-in on the license with their trademark beat'em up gameplay, but a few things have changed for the better in this next-gen Turtle game. Juiced-up for the next generation of gaming machines, this particular game is far from the classic 2D titles of the SNES era in terms of look and features, with a fully polygonal cel-shaded engine that makes the game look incredibly good and fluid while also having that "ripped-out-of-the-tv" look so popular nowadays, plus the addition of comic book-like "Bang" "Slam" and assorted pop-up signs that give the game a distinct comic-booky feel that makes the game a unique experience in it's kind.
The other big improvement for games of this kind these days are the additional features and extras, and TMNT delivers the goods. Whereas the earlier games only featured little more than the arcade mode and the possibility for 2-player cooperative gameplay, this time around you have a story mode (single or 2-player), Vs mode (one-on-one fights between the turtles and bosses, also 1P or 2P), a challenge mode (endurance fights against every possible character in the game) as well as a gallery of conceptual art, pin-ups, character sheets and behind-the-scenes stuff that includes stuff from the animated series and toys, which you unlock by collecting special items in the story mode. Furthermore, the story mode is more than a glorified arcade mode, with moves unlocked as special dojo stages are cleared, with different and extra boss fights depending on the turtle you select and a gameplay arc that requires you to finish the game with all four turtles to get to the final challenge. All with added footage from the cartoons between the action and full voiceovers from the entire cast.
As mentioned, the gameplay involves unlocking moves and abilities such as jump attacks for the turtles, but the basic attacks have changed quite a bit from their original console roots, with each turtle playing differently from each other and with a selection of unique combos that can be quite rewarding for the proficient player (my record was a 35-hitter with Don!), also you have a collection of shurikens with different abilities that you can use to give you an edge anytime, and a special screen-clearing attack that becomes a key feature in the final fights.
The BadAs expected, this game tackles the new continuity in the Ninja Turtles story, which is much truer to the original comic book roots and thus darker, grittier and much more urbane, without any of the Dimension X crap we knew from the old cartoons. The game takes you through a stroll through what's essentially the first big story arc in the cartoons, going from the humble beginnings in the streets to the encounter with the Foot clan and Shredder. The problem with this is that this is handled as a showcase of highlights from the show instead of a full-lenght campaign, and as such leaves anyone without an intimate knowledge of the show in the dark as to what the hell is going on. On one level you are cleaning the streets from clan ninjas and the next you are fighting robotic monsters created by some stupid scientist, while the next you fight against a robotic turtle... at least the earlier games followed a simple arc that took you across the city while Shredder threw all his monsters at you in boss fights but this thing mixes everything up expecting us to know what the hell it's talking about.
Furthermore, the levels themselves are pretty boring, and just as the original Ninja Turtles games, they are a fun diversion, but not much else, Also the Vs mode needs a bit more balancing, as usually it only takes you to be the first one to connect a combo to win the match due to their raw power.
Finally, the turtles have the nasty tendency to spout catch-phrases and one-liners whenever you are fighting. Problem is they each have like 3 phrases and repeat them with an excruciating frequency, enough to drive you mad or kill the audio and put an album in the background as I did 99% of the time.
The Bottom LineDespite some minor flaws this is a great title to relive those simple-minded, head-bashing days of 16 bit glory with all the flair and improvements today's technology allows for.
Yes, it's not the most brainy game of the universe, and it doesn't break any new ground, but who cares about that when you can be a giant ninja turtle bashing street punks in the head with a bo stick?