Leapin’ Lizards! It’s TMNT! On PSP!
Okay, well, they’re not lizards, they’re turtles. But there’s still a lot of leaping. A LOT of leaping. I’d heard before that there were some major differences between the handheld and console versions of the game. So, I decided to check out the handheld PSP version. Boy, what a mistake. The PSP version of this game can best be described as a series of incoherent missions that involve jumping from ledge to ledge. Oh, and you might fight something in between your jumps. But it’s not very likely.
The game begins by placing you right in the middle of the action. You play as the newly returned Leonardo, and go through a two minute tutorial. You learn the exceedingly simplistic controls, and then you’re off. As you progress through the different levels, you can sort of infer that there’s a new bad guy in town, and his minions are (somewhat) after you and your Teenage Mutant Ninja brothers. However, there are several levels where you play as said bad guy, and no real transition is given when you switch over to playing as Mr. Bad Guy. The game is extremely light on storyline and rarely explains why you go through different levels or what the ultimate goal or purpose is to your seemingly aimless gameplay.
But that’s not even the bad part. Anyone who has played licensed games based on movies can tell you that by and large they’re light on story and don’t really make for engrossing or satisfying gameplay. But TMNT on the PSP really takes bad licensed games to a whole new level. The basic structure and purpose of the game is that you are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and you can jump. You can jump onto small places, high places, skinny places; you can jump all the time. Three of your action buttons are devoted to jumping. You only get one “fight” button, which is the X button. Okay, I lied, late in the game, one of your jump buttons becomes a fight button, but for a good portion of the game, all you do is jump.
And what’s worse is you can’t even decide where you jump. The game will give you blue, yellow, and orange cues telling you where and how to jump to different surfaces. The environment is completely without interaction. The game tells you exactly where to go, and gives you no option to go anywhere else. This might be a good strategy for the 8 and 9-year old crowd, but since this game is rated “E10+,” methinks those weren’t the crowd that Ubisoft was trying to attract.
There are a few so-called “boss-fights,” and the user is given a few more options when dealing with a boss at the end of a level. Instead of just hitting the X button endlessly in the general direction of the bad guy, players can use the O button to dodge attacks and perform a counter-attack. But this technique is largely impractical and doesn’t really work too well when put into practice. The X button is still the only real option you have to do anything. Of course, boss fights are incredibly easy, and take little to no time at all, which just adds to the overall worthlessness of the game.
The in-game graphics aren’t really that bad and actually feature some pretty good looking in-game animation. However, the cinema and dialogue scenes did not follow this trend and instead feature stills from the movie accompanied by written dialogue. One has to wonder why the decision was made to make cinema and dialogue scenes out of stills when the in-game animations look so clean.
The sound is absolutely terrible with the same 50 second loop playing through each level. Granted, sometimes it’s a different loop on occasion, but it’s really mind numbing and tiring to hear the same couple snippets over and over during some of the more lengthy levels. It was so bad at one point that I did something I almost never do: I turned off the sound altogether.
There is an ad-hoc multiplayer mode that allows you to play as your favorite turtle and race your friends to see who can make it to the goal first. However, this mode is generally just as annoying and pointless as that one-player mode and will probably gain you less friends than it’ll make you. Trust me on this.
Overall I would say that this game is absolutely terrible. If you really want your TMNT fix, I would have to recommend that you go with one of the console versions, which are supposed to be much better. Even the GameBoy Advance version is supposed to be better. The PSP version has so many things against it: the gameplay is terrible, the story is non-existent, and the entire game experience ranges from boring to enraging, depending on how long you’ve been playing. I feel almost guilty giving ANY game this bad of a review. But trust me, this one earned it. It’s the first game that I can truthfully say that was painfully unplayable.
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A TURTLE…
by Jwan Jordan
Those amphibious and flamboyant ninjas are back and looking to rekindle our nostalgia for them with a new movie and a follow up game. The Ninja Turtles were most popular in the eighties and after many attempts in both games and movies the turtles have yet to revive their popularity again. For those of you who were unfortunate enough to be born in the psychedelic eighties, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles consisted of well, four teenage turtles who were accidentally exposed to a strange ooze which, along with their rat sensei Splinter, became almost human-like in form. Trained in the art of ninjitsu, the Turtles set out to fight crime from the damp sewers below.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) game is coming out for multiple systems in March so everyone can rejoice (or mourn) together on its release date. TMNT is being produced by Ubisoft Montreal and they’re following the movie script very closely. From the very beginning Ubisoft was handed the movie script and was also allowed to fly to Hong Kong to look at early footage of the movie, so it’s good to hear that Ubisoft has a total cooperation with the movie team.
Ubisoft admits that what they gathered from the script was that the film focuses on the darker side of being a teenager and the hardships that come with being a family. Much like the film, they wanted the player to feel alone and distant, so Ubisoft opted for a single person experience. However, there will be instances where you’ll need your brothers to assist you in order to progress in the game. One example shows Leonardo being tossed into the distance by Michelangelo in order to clear a massive gap between roof tops.
TMNT will also be using the Jade engine which was used in the very popular Prince of Persia series. Fortunately, Ubisoft customized the Jade engine to fit the physical capabilities and personalities of the turtles so everyone will still be very distinct. Each turtle movement is also meant to be very fluid and rapid and not the blocky frame skipping movements of most games. It seems that the game will also be reliant on platforming elements and combat which appear very fast-paced and exciting. From what I’ve seen, you traverse from rooftop, much like the turtles have always done and, with the use of the Jade engine, you scale pipes and windows. Those who have played and liked the Prince of Persia series may be very pleased with the acrobatic antics of the game.
So far not too many images have been released for any console. The images that have been shown look really rough, but of course these can and should be fixed before the game is released in March.
I’m looking forward to Ninja Turtle’s game, movie and the nostalgia that comes with it, so until further notice, blow the dust off your Nintendo Entertainment System and relive the good old days.