Thursday, 28 August 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, absolutely love them! My deep seeded childhood love for all things Turtles came about when I first started watching the classic 1987 TV series, which I suspect many of you also enjoyed! The excellent voice acting, animation and the fact that it had the awesome James Avery in it, made it literal perfection. Then there was the Konami arcade game that allowed 4-players to kick Footsoldier ass. Brilliant! I also enjoyed the 80's movies too, though even as a kid I did find them a little boring, especially the third one in which the Turtles time travelled back to Feudal Japan. Ugh... what a piece of shit, right? Then I even got into the action figures, and pestered my parents to buy me the figure of my favourite Turtle, Leonardo. Which they did, though I lost his sword the very next day. 

Needless to say, I was in a Turtle craze in the early 90's, but that evaporated as the decade went on. Since my fascination with the franchise, there has been countless more TV series, films, figures, games – you name it, they made it! But while a lot of Turtle media has been created since I stopped paying attention to it, the new film caught my attention. Produced by Michael Bay and directed by Jonathan Liebesman, the latest incarnation of Turtles, going purely by the trailer, just looks, feels and sounds, well, wrong. Seeing as this latest game is based upon this new Turtles film, I didn't exactly have high hopes...

Developed by Magic Pockets and out now on Nintendo 3DS comes Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a game that despite offering nothing new is strangely enjoyable and charming. The story doesn't base itself directly on the film, instead going down a route that reminded me of Spider-Man 2 on the PS2, in the fact that between following major plot points seen in the film it also throws in a few extra villains, scenes and scenarios. So unlike the film, this game isn't just about defeating Shredder, as it even includes classic Turtle foe Baxter Stockman and his legion of abominations created in his lab. Though it's a story we've seen a million times before, Magic Pockets' decision to beef it out and include other characters is highly welcomed, as an entire game based around defeating Shredder would be a little thin on substance.

Obviously targeted towards the younger gamer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles goes for a rather simple approach to gameplay, but that isn't to say it's not fun. Viewing gameplay from an isometric perspective, once into the game the player will soon discover that they can instantly switch between the four Turtles: Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo. This isn't just for simple visual flair though, as each Turtle is vastly different from one another. Obvious weapon changes aside, the differences come in the likes of speed and strength, with Raphael being the muscle of the group. Though I found Donatello the perfect mix of strengths and weaknesses between them all, choosing the right Turtle for the right mission is key. Fighting is painfully simple, with the Y button serving as the attack button, the R button being used to evade enemy attacks, and the L button to eat pizza to restore health. It's pretty straightforward, but combat is nonetheless fun, quick and reminiscent of the kind of game I would have loved back in the days of the PS1. It's fun for all ages, but younger gamers will love it!

The Turtles' underground sewer serves as the games main hub. From here you can choose to use unlocked cheats, take part in various types of challenges, buy new weapons and items, craft new gear, do some side missions or simply just go directly onto the next main mission. This hub is a nice little addition to an otherwise linear game, with the crafting element being especially welcomed. Through collecting weapons and then breaking them down into various raw materials, the player can then craft new, stronger and better weapons, which can even have added special effects such as being poisoned. Though rather simplistic, this crafting element breaths new life into the game, as instead of merely trying to rush through levels, I found myself checking around random corners, backtracking through levels and even breaking boxes looking for random items I could use for crafting.

Overall Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is neither terrible nor great, it's just good. What Magic Pockets has created here is a game that tries nothing new, recycles ideas we've seen a million times before, yet somehow managed to create a fun game that genuinely feels like it belongs in the Turtles franchise. It ain't high art, but hell, that's fine by me!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles goes down like a decent slice of sewer pizza and gets a 3/5.


Denis Murphy

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at CeX

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