|System: PS2, Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Game Arts||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept. 21, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Smash-ups mechanics are straightforward, though theres enough here to inspire more serious players to get down and dirty. The analog stick moves your character, pressing up to jump and double jump. Youve got a weak and strong attack, and each offers unique variations when combined with directional presses on the control stick. Grabbing enemies is executed by pushing both attack buttons simultaneously, and each character can block, dodge, or perform wall jumps.
Unlike Brawl, if you fall off a stage, youre not limited to two jumps as your only option for making it back onto solid ground. If you time your directional presses on the analog stick just right, you can often wall jump back to safety, depending, of course, on which stage youre battling in. Its a really cool mechanic, one that requires a bit of finesse. Another technique unique to Smash-up is the ability to sidle up to walls temporarily, either to stay out of harms way or, more often, to launch an aerial attack.
These might seem like minor additions, but they do give Smash-up its own identity, making it a worthy alternative to Nintendos juggernaut franchise. Stages, too, are interesting and well designed, borrowing both from Brawl and the Dead or Alive series. Some stages will force you into new areas, and various hazards add an additional element of excitement to the already frantic action. The selection of items is fairly limited, though items do play a significant role during matches.
Smash-up has a strong foundation, and ultimately, the pedigree of its development team shines through. However, the game is by no means perfect. There are only a handful of new stages to unlock, and though Ubisoft covers all bases in terms of options, its a pretty barebones package overall.
When it comes to online gameplay, Smash-up performs better than Brawl, but its still not quite enough. Surprisingly, though the game just released, we had little difficultly jumping into matches with random players. We occasionally got logged off when unable to find a room, but for the most part, the matchmaking aspect seems to work fine.
The main issue with playing online is lag. Testing the game on a network with broadband Internet access, we experienced at least slight delay in every match we played. On average, though, it would take our character a full second or two to respond to the commands we input. If you happen to be lucky enough to get matched up with players who also have a decent connection, the delay isnt nearly as bad. With such fast-paced fighting action, however, serious lag can render the game pretty much unplayable. Were not sure if this is an issue that can be corrected over time, but if past experience with the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection is any indication of what we can expect, the future of online matches doesnt look too promising.
In terms of presentation, TMNT Smash-up is solid but not great. The character models, especially the turtles, look excellent; they animate wonderfully, and the framerate (locally) is smooth. Most of the backgrounds look good in the sense that theres almost no shimmer and the texture work is well defined overall. However, the art style isnt very ambitious, and a few of the video tricks the game uses look cheesy. The voice work is sparse, and the character utterances are repetitive. The musical variety is also very limited, but it fits the TMNT thing well enough.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash-up isnt quite fit to be a Brawl contender, but its a worthy companion piece for folks looking for more of that same type of chaotic action. The fighting mechanics are tight and responsive, in spite of a few technical shortcomings. It doesnt feel weighty enough or polished enough to warrant a $50 price tag, but TMNT and Brawl fans alike might still get their moneys worth.
CCC Freelance Writer