Heros in a half-game
As a child growing up in the 80’s, the appeal of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was hard to deny. The stories of crime-fighting mutant brothers who used martial arts and ate pizza captured the hearts of many young viewers at the time. I spent many afternoons after school watching their cartoon and then pumping several dollars worth of quarters into the local K-mart’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game. With a successful new cartoon, TMNT the movie coming out, and TMNT the game hitting store shelves, the artistically named mutant brothers appear to be establishing a connection with old and new fans alike. I was looking forward to playing TMNT, assuming it would be a delightful trip down memory lane. While it did bring back many pleasant memories, once the nostalgia began to fade, I wasn’t very satisfied with what was left.
TMNT is an incredibly short (about five hours), completely linear, and mind numbingly repetitive experience. It mixes platforming gameplay with several combat sequence interludes. In some levels, you will control a specific turtle, while in others, you will be able to freely switch between all four of the brothers. In these levels, the turtle you choose to use will virtually have no effect on the gameplay besides their slightly unique fighting style and some minor puzzle elements.
Each level has the player reliving a story segment that is being told by one or all of the turtles. Throughout the course of the game, players will be able to help Leonardo train to become the turtle’s leader, fight crime with Raphael as the Nightwatcher, as well as many other familiar stories. It just so happens that all of these stories/levels seem to consist of constant platform jumping and fighting through hundreds of similar and uninspiring enemies. The platforming portions of the game actually do a fairly admirable job of being entertaining.
Although it is never really explained why, these quests require you to jump around elaborately laid out tracks full of booby traps. To make it through these tracks, players are given a descent number of acrobatic moves similar to those found in the new Prince of Persia games. You will need to combine double jumping, wall running, ledge shimmying, and pole swinging to survive. While the camera will sometimes make these segments more difficult with the occasional bad angle, this is still a very enjoyable part of the game. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the game’s combat.
While platforming down TMNT’s numerous linear paths, you will come upon some larger open areas. These are a clear indication that you are about to suffer through one of the game’s many combat sequences. Even with the later additions of team and slow-motion attacks, combat is tedious and painful. Literally, your hands will quickly begin to cramp as you mindlessly tap on buttons while hoping that the fight will just end. You will also encounter some bosses scattered throughout the game. These battles just require you to learn each bosses simplistic routine and attack when it is appropriate.
Graphically, TMNT does an admirable job. The turtle’s models look good while making your way through the game, with their masks swaying in accordance with your movements. All of these movements are also very well animated and fluid. The game’s environments are likewise well detailed with distinctive looking backgrounds and nice touches like weather effects. Although you can’t control TMNT’s camera, it usually does a good job of giving the player a useful and very cinematic view of the action. I only occasionally wished that I could move the camera to get a better view of the surrounding area.
TMNT is an incredibly short game. Even with its unlockable challenge maps and minigames, the game clocks in around six hours. Still, there is fun to be had with this title’s platforming segments as long as your arms can take the repetitive strain of the game’s combat.
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.