With the release of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie by IMAGI studios, Ubisoft enters the ninja turtles’ universe with a game that shows us the more acrobatic side of the story, a game similar to the well known Prince of Persia, but targeted at younger players. Unfortunately, not even the French publisher’s renown could create an above average game.
The storyline closely follows that of the movie, with a couple of variations in the plot to make room for the gameplay, which is the biggest disappointment concerning Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The single-player campaign is comprised of 16 missions which total approximately 6 hours of game time; extremely short by any standards. For the most part, you’ll climb walls and jump from one rooftop to another using the acrobatic abilities of the Ninja Turtles. From time to time, in predefined areas, you’ll also fight waves of enemies hell-bent on stopping you in your tracks.
Acrobatic jumps, coin collecting and ninja battles… This sounds good in theory for an arcade title, but unfortunately the reality is much less fun than it should be. Like I said, for the most part, the game is based on jumps and different acrobatic moves in the style of a mini-Prince of Persia. Barring the lack of creativity in regards to the level design (with two or three exceptions) the thing that ruins this part of the game is the camera and the control systems, which isn’t surprising, considering that these problems have plagued almost every PC version of a multi-platform game. So, for instance, because the camera can rotate automatically, left can become right in middle of a jump, which isn’t something you’ll enjoy too many times. Fortunately, the game has checkpoints preceding the more dangerous areas, which means that in case of a fatal fall you’ll have to re-do only a few jumps, but it still remains a thing that can cause frustration, which could have been avoided.
During the single-player campaign you’ll get the chance play in turn with each of the four ninja turtles – Raphael, Donatello, Leonardo and Michelangelo, plus the Night Watcher – being also able to switch between the turtles in real time during some missions. As expected, each turtle has an individual way of fighting and unique special moves, on top of which the producers added a special move which can be executed in combination by the turtles. The battles in TMNT take place in predefined areas, but as any other element of the game they too are also over simplified.
As mentioned earlier, each turtle has individual attack moves but these are executed with the repeated pressing of only one button, which means that the player doesn’t have an exact control of what happens during a battle. Besides the attack button we have two more, one for blocking attacks and another for a kick which dazes the enemies. But considering the fact that all the enemies in the game are actually mobile targets rather than dangerous opponents, you’ll quickly realize that in any battle it’s enough to just abuse the attack button no matter the number of enemies around you. The few boss fights aren’t hard either. In general to defeat them easily you’ll just have to use the special moves executed by two turtles. But except the final boss, all the others can be defeated even without these special moves. Probably the majority of people reading this article without trying the game are asking themselves why I keep mentioning the simplicity of an arcade game. Yes, simplicity may be considered a key element of arcade games, but when this is taken to extremes things change.
To better understand this, besides the low difficulty (the chaotic camera which makes some of the jumps harder, or even a pain in the but in some cases, can’t be considered a plus to the difficulty) you can add the lack of overall danger. For instance, during a fight in TMNT you can’t die. When the health of one of the turtles reaches to zero he is resurrected (read this as picked up from the ground) by the repeated pressing of one button and you can continue like nothing happened from the same spot. So the game doesn’t offer any kind of a challenge in the single-player campaign, which makes it boring until the end, even with such a short game time.