|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|
One advantage that consoles have over arcades is that console games can feature additional modes. Turtles in Time Re-Shelled has two, but both show incredible laziness on the developers' part. One simply lets you play any stage you've unlocked with 99 lives, and the other gives you only one life and turns you loose in the normal game. The game really cries out for some competitive multiplayer (you can only play with friends in co-op, local or online), or maybe even some all-new story levels to unlock.
The biggest problem here, however, has nothing to do with how the developers "re-shelled" the game for the modern era, or how they tweaked (and failed to tweak) the settings to make it more fun on consoles as opposed to arcade machines. The biggest problem is that you can't simply "re-shell" a game that doesn't hold up anymore and expect it to work. You have to remake it completely, or at most release the pure original for nostalgia purposes only.
As it turns out, by 2009 standards, Turtles in Time is not very good. It has none of the features that made some games from its era age well. Design-wise, the levels are all basically streets that fill with enemies; even when you surf through a sewer or on air, there's no real difference in the way you move around the screen (somehow, even when you jump sideways, the surfboard stays right under your character). Players have to overcome no platforming challenges, solve no puzzles, and, aside from the bosses, spend time memorizing no enemy patterns. On the lower skill levels, it's almost always enough just to walk up to your foes and hammer the two attack buttons (though eventually you do have to learn the few special moves and combos).
The characters vary slightly in such abilities as reach and speed, but the differences aren't all that noticeable, and there's no need to use more than one Turtle anyway. The story's time-travel theme enables each stage to look completely different from the last, but otherwise the tale is nothing special, and there's not much detail to the plot (which is explained in painfully cheesy cutscenes).
The visceral thrill of smacking recognizable cartoon enemies with swords and nunchuks was enough to entertain elementary-schoolers in the early '90s, but those elementary-schoolers are in their mid-to-late 20s now, and today's elementary-schoolers have access to far better fighting games. What we're left with is a brief, simple trip down memory lane, stuffed into a new shell and polished to a shine for $10.
True, there are $10 downloads that are worse, especially if you plan to play this with friends, or if the original game meant a whole lot to you back in the grunge era. But lots of $10 downloads are better, too.
CCC Freelance Writer