Featured Columns

September 24, 2009

The Comics Console: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash-Up

Last week I reviewed Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, where the game’s story is based off of Mark Millar’s Civil War. Fans were elated to discover that they would be able to play through the events of one of this decades most epic story lines; something that has been an extreme rarity in the video game/comic book relationship. Most modern comic book video games are only created as a tie-in to a film featuring the character. Usually these games blow hard because not much effort is put into them. The idea is that the game will sell simply by being based off the film (Superman Returns, Iron Man). Every now and then us fans are treated to a game with no real tie-ins to anything with an all new story (Spider-Man: Web Of Shadows, Justice League Heroes), but the story will suffer because those writing it will have little knowledge of the characters. Very, very rarely has a comic book video game come out that is adapted from a specific piece of source material.

In 1994 Sunsoft released a side scrolling beat ’em up titled The Death and Return of Superman based off the very same comic book story line. It was one of the first video games to be directly adapted from the comics. It’s also probably the best (or only good) Superman game ever developed. In 2005, Activision published Ultimate Spider-Man which succeeded in capturing the style and feel of the comic book title of the same name. The game received generally positive reviews.


So would game developers do well to pull more from the comics themselves for their games? I think so! How cool would a massive Planet Hulk game be? Playing as Hulk taking on Saakar gladiators in the arena? Or a Superman/Batman game covering Jeph Loeb’s run; Play as Superman or Batman, or both in co-op, fighting off other DC heroes trying to cash in the hit on your heads a la Public Enemies.

Hopefully we’ll be seeing more of our favorite stories and moments relived through the video games. What comic book story lines do you want to play?

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles turn 25 this year, and they’re celebrating with awesome DVD releases, commemorative comic books, and a new video game! Ubisoft’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash-Up pulls most of it’s inspiration from Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. series as a brawler for the Wii and Playstation 2. Developer Game Arts previously worked on Super Smash Bros. Brawl and does a pretty decent job of capturing the same experience.

In single player mode, players will enter a tournament designed by Master Splinter to review his students’ progress in their ninjutsu training. The story, penned by TMNT co-creator, Peter Laird, is pretty short and probably not compelling enough to keep single players interested for very long, but makes up for it with lots of other game modes: arcade, practice, tournament, battle royal, survival, and mission mode. Mission mode is a series of 51 different challenges; like taking on your brothers in a gauntlet match as Leonardo or protecting Master Splinter until the time expires.

Smash-Up offers many different control types, including the Game Cube controller, and classic controller. Attacks are simple to pull off with the A and B buttons and can be combined with the directional pad to pull off unique attacks for each character. The game’s control scheme differs from Brawl’s beat ’em up style and gives Smash-Up more of a fighting game feel. Dropping from the sky are Ninja Powers that, like in Smash Bros., gives your character special power ups and attack options like throwing bombs or shurikens.

The online play is smooth with no lagging and is one of the game’s high points. However, putting together custom tournaments and matches means dealing with the Wii’s ridiculous friend code system.

Smash-Up’s level designs are pretty and just as action filled as the fights themselves. In addition to beating your opponent with your bo staff or hockey stick, you’ll have to keep up with moving trains, avoiding debris from burning buildings, and dodge crocodile attacks that, if you’re not careful, can be a determining factor in the outcome of the fight.


Animation for each character is solid and pretty. The look of the Turtles is pulled from the 2007 TMNT film, though the game has no other attachments to the films or any other part of Turtles cannon.

The character roster is unfortunately very disappointing. Hardcore TMNT fans will be upset to see no Bebop, Rocksteady, Krang, Rat King, Baxter Stockman, or Vanilla Ice (GO, NINJA! GO, NINJA! GO!). Starting out in the game are of course the four ninja teens Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo, along with Master Splinter, Casey Jones, and April O’Neil. Eventually you unlock Shredder, Nightwatcher, Karai, Utrominator, a Foot soldier, and Fugitoid as well as three other characters from the Raging Rabbits series (another Ubisoft Game).

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash-Up is good party brawler, but its lack of depth in roster and single player mode doesn’t make it a worthy substitute of Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Long time Turtle fans, however, will appreciate going a few rounds against friends as their favorite pizza loving hero-in-a-half-shell. Cowabunga! 3/5

Check out The Comics Console next week when we play Dead Space: Extraction!

Andrew Hurst



  1. I played this game in a few tournaments at PAX this year and I have to admit I was pretty bummed. I have a RABID TMNT fan, so the thought of getting a TMNT brawler was incredibly exciting. However you are right they did lag on some serious components that could have been great. First off the roster is small and yeah there are alot of missing players that should have been there, the one I wanted to see more then anyone else is Usagi Yojimbo, how sweet would that have been?

    At PAX there was one down side to the game I noticed immediately, and that is the combos are very simplistic, and lend to button mashing very easily. Now to a fighter fan this is a negative, however to the casual gamer this is a plus, because this make Smash-up a game anyone can pick up.

    Thanks for great review on a good game and I look forward to reading more man.

  2. InfiniteSpeech

    I was just upset TMNT Smash Up is a Wii exclusive title and I wasn’t thrilled with the roster size when I first read about it. I still think it would be a fun game to play here and there…great review!

    A Planet Hulk game would be AWESOME!!! While fighting in the arena and various other places on Sakaar you unlock members of your Warbound and you can play as them too! Then come to NY and just wreck HAVOK!!

  3. What, you didn’t like the N64 ‘Superman’ game where you fly through rings all day? lol

    I’d like to see a comic book game based on Messiah Complex/Messiah War. You’d have a huge cast to choose from as characters to play, and the rogues gallery is equally as large!

    And the new Green Lantern game should be pretty cool once it comes out as it’s written by comic book writer, Marc Guggenheim (Amazing Spider-Man, Resurrection, Young X-Men).

    And why oh why are Rocksteady, Bebop and Krang ALWAYS left out of anything TMNT that isn’t related to the cartoon or the Archie comics series!? WTF is up with that??

  4. Billy

    Holy crap do these graphics look off the hook.

  5. […] they aren’t quite capturing the magic we saw two decades ago. Turtles in Time Re-Shelled and TMNT: Smash-Up weren’t all bad games, and you would think a Turtles game titled TMNT: Arcade Attack would be […]

  6. […] Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash-Up comicattack.net […]

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