I get very uneasy when things I love get messed with. Especially Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. While reintroducing the turtles to a fresh fan base is something I can get behind, it still leaves the hardcore faithful with some room for worry. Although, the one aspect of this TMNT reboot the 90s fans didn’t have to sweat was the video games. Why? One word: Konami.
Released: Nov. 25, 2003
Platforms: Xbox, PS2, Game Cube, PC
TMNT: The Arcade Game, Turtles in Time, The Hyperstone Heist, and several other of the original TMNT games were developed and published by Konami. These games were widely successful due not only to the green machine behind them, but because they were genuinely well made games. Konami takes the turtles back to their video games roots, but with a 3D update. However, the nostalgia factor is lost in the modernization.
Katana, sai, bo staff, or nunchaku. However you choose to take on the Mousers infesting the sewer, the gangs roaming the streets, or the Foot creeping in the shadows, you’re going to be hitting a lot of the same button. TMNT is as beat-em-up as beat-em-ups get. All four turtles play essentially the same, the only differences being Donatello having the advantage of a slightly broader reach, and each turtle shouting their own catchphrase.
Throughout five stages, each stage with about five different areas, cookie cutter enemies attack in waves one right after the other. There’s not much challenge to these foes, especially with explosive cars and fire hydrants to help you in tough spots. On the other hand, the boss battles are much more complex and the highlight of every stage, forcing you to find the appropriate strategy to bring your enemy down. In between some stages, you’ll be faced with special challenges like breaking X amount of crates in X amount of time, or taking on a wave of thugs without taking any damage. Successfully completing these rewards you with special attributes like increased speed or durability.
The story follows that of the new animated series it’s based off of, going so far as using clips from the actual show as cut scenes. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by saying that the Shredder is your greatest villain in this game, with the Purple Dragon gang, Dragonface, and Baxter Stockman showing up as well.
Progressing through the game unlocks characters for the multiplayer game – a versus mode pitting you and a friend against each other fighting game style. The turtles along with Splinter, Casey Jones, Hamato Yoshi, Hun, Turtlebot, and Shredder are all available for play.
The game being a basic beat-em-up leaves it open for a great deal of repetition, which can be made less excruciating with a friend. But only one friend. Even though there are four turtles to choose from, we only get to play two at a time. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. Furthermore, the game’s difficulty does not adapt to the addition of a second player, making the game even easier.
The game’s graphics are simple and pretty, though in tight spaces the Batman-like POWs and WHACKs that pop up can obscure a bit of the action. The voice acting is decent, being pulled from the cartoon, but the generic soundtrack is absolutely forgettable.
Honestly, if I’m going to play a TMNT game, this one is far down on my list of go-to’s, but if you’re a huge TMNT fan, there are worse ways to kill an afternoon with a friend. And if you set your system’s clock to December 25, all the characters sport little Santa hats! Who doesn’t love Christmas turtles?
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