Once we were setup and loaded up the game, things started to take a turn. If Part 1 was anything to go by, I already was not expecting anything from this game already; I was surprised that it could not even met me halfway at mediocrity.
To be fair, the control scheme is simple and easy to understand: X attacks, Y throws enemies, B does a super attack, A jumps, RT uses items, D-pad switches characters. I even admitted looking at the controls, this felt familiar to the Warriors series. However, while Dynasty Warriors games allow for more damaging and longer combos through the use of other attacks, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the Video Game does not really. There are points where using one option over your regular attack is advantageous, but 80% of the time you’ll just be mashing X.
Unfortunately, it’s controls are one of the few things the game has going for it. I knew going into this it was a port from the Wii and 3DS, so I didn’t expect much the graphics department. However, the characters look incredibly blocky, more so than the Nickelodeon cartoon or any game I’ve played on the Wii in awhile yet. The menus are brightly colored, but are otherwise forgettable. The enemy types come with some variety, but stand in neutral poses that are just bland and have no intimidation or energy to them at all. The backdrops are nice looking, but I attribute that more to the source material than anything the developers worked on. Overall, the visual style of the game is very by-the-numbers, and feels sterile compared to the TV show it’s based on.
I will try to talk about the soundtrack, but aside from the theme song from the original show, there isn’t any soundtrack. The theme song is pretty much the only song, and it is the reason I could not post the Let’s Play videos without getting flagged on Youtube. (Viacom apparently has a habit of blocking anything that is even tangentially related to it’s material — the new Turtles’ theme included.) There are other compositions in the game, but they’re mostly just dull hums, and not anything anyone would find particularly interesting. One stage decided even this was too much effort, and had no environmental effects or background music at all.
The rest of the sound design is just as impressive, as in not at all. For instance, the turtles will banter with each other, but unlike Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows where the banter is witty and clever, banter in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the Video Game is repetitive, unintelligent, and/or drool. The game uses the talking heads format popular with many anime-based games, during which the sound gets worse. The actors portraying the characters lines are frequently too loud, creating a popping noise coming from my speakers when they spoke their lines (this was on the 360, so I can’t imagine the issues the 3DS may have). Only occasionally were we caught off guard with the dialog, and most of the time we were laughing at the horrible script rather than the actual joke.
All of these are water under the bridge, however. I could ignore any of these problems, but there are two things that really made this the worst slog to get through.
Of all the things to get wrong in a side-scrolling beat ’em up, the camera is the one thing you really shouldn’t mess with. The best comparison point is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Konami for the Playstation 2/Xbox/Gamecube. In both that and the new Activision game, the camera angle changes to make stages look a little more dynamic and to take advantage of the 3D rendering of the characters. Both these cameras had to be scripted and on rails. While Konami’s calmly slide down the track, or swapped angles on a dime, Activision’s jerks and chuggs from one point to the other. This makes it difficult to see exactly what is going on. If a turtle gets caught on geometry off-screen, it especially becomes a nuisance.
Almost in response to this, they implemented a system where if a turtle was stuck too far off screen, or moves out of range of the camera, they would be teleported to the camera’s field of vision instantly. This happens most often in obvious 3DS pandering sequences where the camera actually goes behind the turtles, usually as they move through a tunnel or alley. This wouldn’t be a serious issue, except that it tends to enforce certain angles at inconvenient times. During a fight with a giant mouser, katsa and I lost nearly all our lives because the camera kept pulling us back to the spot where giant rocks were falling on our heads. Only after we were able to coordinate our movement away from the rocks did the camera allow us to escape the death trap. Seemingly as an apology, we found an extra life behind the boss area after the mouser was defeated.
Nevertheless, we would still get caught on geometry or invisible walls even while still on the screen (the most memorable being in the first stage). To combat this you have the ability to switch to other Turtles and escape so long as the other turtles aren’t in the hands of a player. This brings me to the other major issue the game has.
All four turtles are on screen at all times in this game. Even with a single player or two players, you will have all four turtles on screen. Unlike it’s precursor Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, this is not a beneficial feature, but a detriment to the game design. In Out of the Shadows, your AI controlled brothers may not make for the best allies, but they move around attacking powerful enemies and using combos; they at least try. In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the Video Game, the turtles that are not being controlled stand around doing nothing. They’ll move to the next area when you do, but they won’t move otherwise. In addition, the enemy AI is just as incompetent, as they will continue to attack the turtles you aren’t directing. Now, these ‘dummy’ turtles will throw out attacks if an enemy attacks them, but they’re not really doing damage. This is counter-balanced by the fact that they can’t actually take damage either — one of the few upsides to this whole game.
Stay tuned for closing remarks and final recommendations for this game.
I do not own Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Activision, or any property mentioned in this article. I only own the opinions formed here, and the learning experience this product has granted me through this ordeal. Opinions were formulated from the XBox360 version of this game.