Pros: Spliced in TV episodes, two player support, it has turtles.. and
Cons: Repetitive gameplay, bad use of cel shaded graphics, useless two player mode, unbalanced characters
Back in the days on the Nintendo Entertainment System Ninja Turtles
games were top notch brawlers.
It had everything you would ask for in a NES game, heroes you know and
love, enemies you know and love to hate, endless bad guys and two player
support. Now in the era of the Playstation 2, Gamecube and Xbox it just
doesn't cut it anymore to have a game this simple.
OK so Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, isn't a travesty of a game, but it's
not great either. Let's start with the good. First of all this Ninja
Turtles game is based on the new version of the cartoon and older fans
of the show will notice some differences. To get everyone up to pace
with the new Ninja Turtles story there are a bunch of cleverly spliced
in cut scenes from the TV show. Each of the scenes are crisp animation
that you would see in a DVD anthology of the show. Even the voices
in the cut scenes and the game sound like they're from the TV show, so
you know you're going to get some good voice overs. Another bonus is
that every time you beat a level you get a cut scene. It's kind of like
a reward for completing a level.
Each of the levels are standard brawler style. You pick one of the turtles
(two if you're playing a two player game) and you bash your way to end
of the level. There is an endless amount of bad guys to beat up, who all
look like they were cut and paste over and over again. The levels aren't
exactly well designed with the camera in mind. If you happen to get
knocked into a corner or a tight area the camera can go haywire and be
placed within a wall. This leaves you blindly mashing buttons until you
can escape the corner. There are times (also in tight areas and while
turning) when enemies surround you and the camera will actually be
inside an enemy. This is a laughable error, and shows a lack of polish
in the game. These camera problems wouldn't be as salient a problem if
there weren't so many twists and turns in the level. The camera becomes
even more of a problem when you have a second player, The camera can't
move out of bounds between the two players, since they're on the same
screen. So it tries to pan out so both players can be seen. However,
while turning or when one player runs off, the other player can be left
completely blind. The camera will pan out more leaving a player behind
an object like a wall or random scenery. All of this leads to a
Luckily the gameplay itself is fun in moderate doses. I mean who doesn't
want to play an action game. If this game just had more moves it would
increase the score of the game significantly. Each character has a hard
attack and a light attack. Mix these up and you got a combo attack. Most
of the combos aren't very practical in one on one fighting and are meant
for plowing down a bunch of baddies surrounding you. So when you come to
boss battles you'll find that the majority of moves are useless. Another
problem with the combo system is that after knocking a bunch of enemies
down there is some recovery time between combos. So if you miss you'll
be leaving yourself to attack without a defense. This wouldn't be so
much of a problem, if the controls responded better so you knew which
combo you were actually doing. One more problem with the gameplay
balance is that the different characters don't really matter too much.
Each of the characters give the same amount of damage, the only
difference is their range. This makes Donatello and unstoppable
character and Raphael and Michelangelo are much weaker. If you're going
to have four character you should have some balance between them, for
example you could give examples: one has extra reach, one has extra
power, and one has extra speed. Konami neglected this altogether, which
is something that could have made the game more fun to play.
While playing the game there is a story mode that you'll go through.
You'll start by picking a turtle for the main player. Each of the
turtles has a slightly different story. There's one downside to this,
one you pick this turtle you're stuck with them until you beat the game.
If you want to switch turtles you'll have to start all over at level 1-1
again. While it is nice to see four different stories, well kind of
different stories, Ninja Turtles is a casual gameplay experience. You
want to turn it on and off switch and try out different characters
whenever you want to. It's not an epic adventure or even a deep action
game. Forcing a player to start at 1-1 over again is a huge
annoyance. There is a two player mode, but its more of an afterthought
rather than one of the driving forces of the game. A second player can
jump in almost at anytime. They'll have no part in the story and can't
learn the extra moves that the first player has unless they go through
the single player mode too. One of the best aspects of a brawler game is
being able to play with a second player, but if one player is clearly
stronger than another what's the fun in that? The worse part of the
imbalance can be seen in the games versus mode. You can pick one of the
four "different" turtles and battle one on one in different arenas.
Since some turtles are stronger than others what's the purpose of
fighting? It's not like the fighting system is any good either all you
can do is throw out one of your combos and button mash your way to
victory. There is no clear strategy to this mode. Thankfully, its not a
major part of the game.
The graphics in the game are more of an annoyance than are visual
pleasing. The textures are generally jagged even in the higher
resolution Gamecube and Xbox versions of the game. The turtle sprites
and enemy sprites look like they are cardboard cutouts on a paper
background. The enemies don't look much better. They're drab colored
paper cutouts too. Out of the many games that show an excellence in the
use of cel shaded graphics (Jet Grind Radio and The Legend of Zelda: The
Wind Waker for example) this game pales into comparison. Probably the
worst graphical addition is more of a gameplay nuance than it is a
graphical problem. After you defeat enemies on screen you'll notice a
bunch of explosions that say "Pow!" or "Bam" like the old Batman show.
When you attack a bunch of guys these explictives show up everywhere and
ocassionally cover an enemy up that you thought you got rid of. What was
designed as a cool feature ended up being more trouble than its worth.
With its lack luster graphics, stale gameplay and barely existant two
player mode there isn't too much to make you come back to play this
game. There are some secret characters, Splinter is one of them. That's
about it for extras and since the game is pretty short you'll be done
with it in no time. Unless you like doing the same thing over and over
there is no reason to complete the game with all four characters. All of
these problems put this game on shaky ground for a good recommendation.
The graphics from system to system don't vary too much. The level of
graphical detail of this game on the other systems is almost the same as
the PS2 version. While there are rumors circulating that there are less
characters in the PS2 version this is untrue. Since all three versions
are pretty much the same any version of this game will do.
This game is currently in stores in the US. It is believed that there
will be an eventual Japanese release of the game if they can get over
the licensing issues.
You can get this at your local video game story today.
The only saving grace this game has is for Ninja Turtles fans, but
during a time when there are so many better games released you're not
getting the same bang for your buck with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Review by RedLineX