Comic Publishers

January 7, 2010

The Comics Console: TMNT: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled & Arcade Attack

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time remains not only one of the greatest TMNT games ever, but one of the all time side scrolling SNES classics. Back in August, Ubisoft released a downloadable remake of the game, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled with updated 3D graphics, while maintaining the great 2D gameplay. Unfortunately, what sounds like a stellar idea, and a dream come true for hardcore TMNT fans, Re-Shelled will have fans turning off their Xbox 360’s and Playstation 3’s and plugging in their Super Nintendo’s to remind them why they loved Turtles in Time.

For those unfamiliar with the classic, Turtles in Time starts with the heroes-in-a-half-shell watching the local April O’Neil’s news report from Liberty Island when Krang shows up to steal the Statue of Liberty, and the Shredder hijacks the air waves to mock the teen turtles. That’s where you and three friends come in. As Donatello, Raphael, Leonardo and Michelangelo, you’re dropped into the sexy new 3D New York to fight the foot and stop Krang when Shredder drops the boys into a time warp.

Though the graphics have received a huge overhaul, the gameplay remains largely unchanged. You’ll still take on armies of foot soldiers through the past and future, and it’s still pretty repetitive and simple at first. The difficulty and number of enemies increases as you progress, and end-of-level bosses do provide a challenge, but not exactly a fun challenge.

As the Turtles, your ninja skills consist of a light attack and a heavy attack, each assigned to a different button, and you can jump kick, or throw enemies if you get close enough. While repetition is expected in a beat ’em up style game, these moves aren’t exactly fun to repeat. There is no new way to chain together moves or make combos, withering the overall interest in the game.

The varying level designs are still very pleasing, some with strange color palates that make the game look a lot more interesting than it feels. Some times with four players on screen, and a fresh batch of foot clan to clobber, you may get a little lost in the confusion. The developers have addressed this problem and added a button to show you exactly where you are on screen, which is useful while zooming in and out while surfing through the sewers.

The sewer level in particular provides some healthy frustration that will have you sending your controller across the room. If you hit a mine or spikes, then you may be unable to get up and protect yourself in time to avoid damage from more mines and spikes. In the boss battle against Cement Man, who transforms into a weird invincible blob and shoots around the screen, he’ll sometimes not hit you at all, sometimes go right at you and wait for you to get back up just to knock you back down.

The original nine campaign levels are all still here, and will take only about an hour to complete. Aside from the graphical upgrades and four player online co-op, other features setting Re-Shelled apart from it’s 17 year old counterpart are the new game modes like Survival, similar to a gauntlet where you only have one life and battle against an endless horde of Foot soldiers until you fall, and Quick Play, that drops you in a random level. The music has also been tweaked and there are a new set of achievements to add to your gamer score.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled‘s worth is really weighed by how big of a Turtles fan you are. Fans will be thankful for the thought by Ubisoft, but given the option, you may want to invest your $10 into an original version of Turtles in Time. 3/5

There’s no doubt that the Konami’s old arcade TMNT games are among the best, and I have to give Ubisoft credit for wanting to develop games reminiscent of those, but they aren’t quite capturing the magic we saw two decades ago. Turtles in Time Re-Shelled and TMNT: Smash-Up weren’t totally bad games, and you would think a Turtles game titled TMNT: Arcade Attack would be right up your shell…but it’s not.

When the Turtles were first booming in video games it was during a period where hand-held games were expected to be much lower quality than any console game. But with systems like the Nintendo DS proving that hand-held games can hold their own and be truly great, low quality games are completely inexcusable.

Arcade Attack is a co-op game, making you choose a second Turtle, be it A.I. or a friend, to play with because the special attacks in the game are all team based, which is a fairly interesting aspect. The four face buttons on the DS are all put to use with jump, heavy and light attacks, and block; nothing bad there, but once you jump into gameplay is where it all falls apart.

You fight down streets and ally’s beating up a wave of Foot, then move further a little bit, beat up more Foot, move up again, then beat up more Foot… There are two things awkward and wrong with this besides being utterly boring. First: Though previous TMNT beat ’em ups shared a similar repetitive pattern, you weren’t just moving forward and hitting B; you were dodging Krang’s laser blasts or speeding through the streets on a skateboard or something that added some level of skill and changing things up to keep interest. Second: The developers took the simple punch/kick style away that beat ’em ups are used to, and made combat more reflective of a 2D fighting game, encouraging you to use combos and specials. I know this doesn’t sound like a bad thing, but it’s tough to engage in one-on-one combat with a Foot soldier when you’re being ganged up on from all sides.

The worst part about these repetitive levels is there is seldom a boss battle to contend with after, and when there is, he’s no more difficult than the Foot chumps you just fought. The game is only eight stages long and takes maybe an hour to beat. Even the biggest Turtle fans will want to avoid this one. 1/5

Again, all us Turtle fans appreciate Ubisoft for the new line of TMNT games, but unfortunately Ubisoft isn’t taking the games as seriously as we would like. Sure the TMNT franchise is something garnered toward kids, and will probably never be as violent as the original Eastman and Laird concept, but just imagine how cool a real action ninja game with real stealth elements and weapon upgrades with the turtles could be? Something much deeper than the repetitive beat ’em ups the Turtles have been so recognized with. What would your dream TMNT game be like?

Andrew Hurst



  1. Tec3615

    The true greatness of those classic beat ’em up titles (especially The turtle games) ware playing with your Friends, I remember downloading TMNT The Arcade Game for live and only played through it once (by myself) and I never want back cause I couldn’t get anyone to join in. I also agree that a slightly darker Turtles game that plays like an Arkham Asylum in the sewers of N.Y would be a dream come true. Great article once again, keep ’em coming!

  2. The graphics may have taken on a “huge overhaul,” but to be honest, I like the old-school cartoon look much much better.

    …and I don’t think $10 is enough to nab you the original version. Last I checked it was selling for something like $25 on ebay.

    As for my dream TMNT game? If you saw the article about the new TMNT movie, Turtles Forever, it would have to be something like that: A crossover of genres:

  3. billy

    I tried to get my kids to ask “Santa” for Smash-up for Christmas but they wouldn’t bite. lol

  4. […] Laird. On November 21, 2009, their 25th anniversary was celebrated with a TV movie on CW4Kids. …The Comics Console: TMNT: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled & Arcade …Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time remains not only one of … of the game, Teenage […]

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