|System: X360 (XBLA)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubisoft Singapore||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 5, 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|
by Robert VerBruggen
Adults often wince when they look back at the games they enjoyed as children. Also, thanks to changing tastes and technology, even modern children might find kids' fare from decades past a little silly.
Such is the plight that has befallen the early-'90s brawler Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time. It doesn't matter how fond your memories of classic Turtles beat-'em-ups are, you're unlikely to re-live them today, even with the new HD version of this much-loved coin-op (and later, with some changes, Super Nintendo) title.
It's not that the developers did a completely poor job getting the game "re-shelled," as the updated name has it. The high-def visuals, though they arguably hurt the nostalgia (there's no option to play with the original graphics), present the four heroes and their environments in a realistic yet just-cartoonish-enough light. It always feels a little weird when 2-D gameplay and 3-D graphics meet, but this game overcomes the awkwardness. Also, despite fears that the ability to attack in all directions (instead of just left and right) would disrupt the game's balance, we found it to be a sensible update that helps players control the hordes, especially when playing solo (up to four players can work together, and the levels are designed accordingly).
Other aspects of the update didn't go so well, unfortunately. The worst part is the sound. Between the insanely cheesy music and the repetitive, poorly acted comments the Turtles blurt out with gusto, you'll turn the volume down in a hurry. Within the space of a minute or two, how many times can you hear, "Dohh! My nose!" and "My toes! My toes!"?
Also, games that eat quarters in malls are very different from games that entertain people in their homes. To a certain degree the developers knew this; reportedly, they re-tooled some of the enemies to make them more console-friendly. Otherwise, however, the arcade-style gameplay remains intact to a fault. There is an upside in that returning fans will feel right at home, but there are many more downsides.
For one, you'll encounter lots of cheap hits from random, hard-to-avoid traps. A path made of boards is so poorly constructed that every few feet, your Turtle steps on one that see-saws, smacking him in the head (more precisely, the nose). In the sewer, for some reason there are floating, quickly moving gates that dock energy off your life bar, et cetera.
The continue system also broke in the jump to consoles. Whereas in an arcade each continue costs money, there's no punishment at all in hitting the start button on a console controller. Usually, console developers limit players' continues enough that the game is challenging, but not the ones who handled Turtles in Time Re-Shelled. You have six lives, infinite continues, and the ability to save your progress. As a result, the "normal" difficulty (the second of four settings) is laughably easy; the average player should be able to slash his way through all the "scenes" in 45 minutes, give or take. There are enough pizza power-ups lying around that in the first few levels, we didn't lose a single life. Anyone looking for the slightest challenge should start on "hard" difficulty right away.