Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles


Review by Dan Loosen



Graphics: 10

Sound: 4

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 8

I've been thinking about doing this for a while with some of the games I've been playing lately on my Xbox. First up, the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game that I bought last night.

Beat 'em ups have always been my favorite type of game. I keep a Genesis around to play Maximum Carnage and TMNT: Hyperstone Heist. I play TMNT IV for my SNES regularly. TMNT II, TMNT III and Battletoads are probably my most played NES games. I adore beat 'em ups, and the classic Turtle games are some of my favorites.

That's why I'm both happy with and disappointed with the new TMNT game at the same time. It's the same type of game as the old school beat 'em ups -- you run around, beating up hordes of the same-looking bad guys as you make your way to the guy at the end.

TMNT does some things right, but I want to talk about some of the things that it does wrong first. In old school beat 'em ups, one of the greatest things was that the hordes of enemies would come running in from off screen to start beating you up. In this game, the hordes of enemies appear from thin air and sit there waiting for you to go attack them.

Secondly, the radar. Half of the time, you can't see the enemies coming unless you watch the radar. While this allows you to get ready to hit the enemies, it isn't the same.

And the moves... what in the world? The jump kick was a very, very important part of the games as it gave you at least two and usually three (or in Maximum Carnage, four) different ways to beat them up. There was the regular attack, jump kick, special attack and (in MC) the web grab / single enemy attack. By removing the jump kick, we're left with two attacks that are generally the same thing -- regular and special. The game tried to make up by adding throwing stars, but it just doesn't work out because they are too easy. I met the first enemy and ran across the screen so he was off screen and threw the stars at him (while he stood there waiting for me to get closer) until he died. The strategy of the game is totally off because of this, and it just doesn't have the same action.

Along with this, the special moves aren't as funky and strange as they used to be and they also aren't as functional as the old ones were. In the older games, you would do a special move, lose a little life and buy yourself some time. This was a huge strategy point as you could clear away the enemies if you felt that they were going to beat you up.

Before you start against the foot clan, you have a ton of enemies that all look the same. This was fine with the other Turtles games because they were all Foot Clan members and that was how it was supposed to be. But when you're beating up punk kids, it doesn't make sense that they all look identical. Hell, in Maximum Carnage, they simply changed the colors for the bad guys and it created enough of a difference that you didn't feel like you were beating up identical bad guys. How could a game that is on the Xbox, with a TON of storage space, not even care enough to change the color of the bad guys clothes?

Some other small gripes:
  • The ending of levels forces you to walk somewhere. The charm of finishing off the last baddie and having the game make you jump into the sewer or whatever was a lot nicer in my opinion.
  • The enemy counter counts backwards with how many enemies are currently around. If it shows five and you beat up five and another five appear, it stays at five. I understand why it is there, but I would've rather it had how many enemies per section. If you walked into a place and saw that you had 40 enemies to go, it would be better.
  • Why no counter for how many enemies killed? That was one of my favorite parts of the TMNT games. I still remember the first time I finished off more than 250 with one quarter. I understand the points, but the baddie counter would've been nice too.
  • The combo system is stupid. If you get an enemy in the corner (at least with Donatello) you can keep beating on him forever. I had a combo that was up to 75 yesterday all from the same baddie. I thought the combo system was cool... until that happened.
  • Is there enough recover things? In the 2D games, there was one or maybe two pizzas per level. In this one, there seems to be one everywhere.
  • Could we please add another four or five lines to each Turtle's lines? Good lord. I'm getting sick of Dontallo saying the _exact same thing_ every time he makes a move.

With all that said, I don't hate the game. In fact, I rather like it. Konami did a good job of turning the game into a 3D world, and the graphics are absolutely perfect for the style of game that it is. Never before has a Turtles world looked so darn good.

The storyline, while rather bland isn't bad. It's rather like an older game. In fact, I'd say it's better than games like the Hyperstone Heist (that really had no coherent story at all).

The action is really fun. When you enter a group of 8 mousers or 5 baddies and swing your weapon around, it is great to see everything go flying back.

You have to move through each area with each Turtle to unlock them. That means that after I'm done beating everything with Donatello, I'll go back with the other three and do the same. While this isn't appealing to a lot of people, it will definitely keep me playing the game.

Lastly, the control of it (other than the jump kicking thing) is dead on. I can't believe how perfect it is. If I'm in a group of baddies and attacking one in front of me but want to hit the guy behind me before he attacks, I just move the control stick and he starts getting beat up. Out of everything when I first played this game I was afraid of, it was the fact that I wouldn't be able to control the Turtles as well in 3D as I was able to in 2D.

As for one thing that I don't know, I always enjoyed playing the TMNT games with a friend. According to some sites, you can't do this. According to others, you can but it only saves one Turtle's progress. If you can, I'm happy with it. If not, it won't be the biggest issue, but it is strange. I know that it won't support four players, but that isn't too big of a deal for me -- none of the other Turtle games did (except the arcade ones) either. I can't complain.

Overall though, even with the shortcomings this has already become one of my favorite Xbox games and I'm sure that I'll be playing it for a long, long time.

The game all hinges on the gameplay for me, and while it isn't perfect, I love the genre and wish there was more games like this. When TMNT II drops to $20.00, I'll happily pick it up too :)


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Last updated: Tuesday, November 23, 2004 08:07 PM