Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014, Xbox 360) Review

Released around the same time as TMNT: Out of the Shadows, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is based off of the recent Nickelodeon cartoon.  The graphics are pretty good, and are close to the cartoon's visuals, but there is a lot of clipping in the game.  As far as I can tell, the cartoon's voice cast all reprise their roles, but the audio quality is spotty.  Some lines are fine, but others sound terrible, as if the microphone was too sensitive, or that the volume was turned up to equalize it.  The audio is just poorly done overall.

You have all four turtles at the outset, and can switch between them just about whenever you want with the d-pad.  The game is reminiscent of the old arcade games, even down to the life bar.  It's total hack and slash gameplay.  To mix it up a bit, you can throw enemies when they are stunned, use a radial attack or super attack when your special meter is filled, and even get some ninja tools.  The throws don't always work when they are supposed to, since if an enemy is doing an action, you can't throw them until it's done.  Like one of the old NES games, you can even throw the enemies onto the screen.  It's a nice throwback to the old game, and even kind of funny, but its obstructs the view until it's gone.  The ninja tools -shuriken, smoke bombs and flash bombs- are fun to use, but you don't get them very often, and they cannot be carried to the next stage.  It would have been more fun if they either carried over, or if they were available in more stages.

Overall, it's not a very difficult game.  You get several lives, and you don't reach game over until all the lives are gone and all the turtles have run out of health.  Enemy attacks are usually easy to dodge, provided you can move away from them.  The hit detection is very spotty.  Frequently I would get stuck on enemies and different parts of the environment while trying to move around.  If in the middle of a fight, I would usually get hit because of this.  It's not game-breaking, but it could have used a lot more polish to make it work properly.  Especially the AI, since they don't really help attack at all, only occasionally throwing an enemy that you were probably starting to attack.

The game has 15 different levels, and the time it takes for each one ranges from about 3-15 minutes your first time through, especially if you are seeking the collectibles.  The collectibles are worth finding, since they unlock upgrades and other game modes.  To run through the game with my 7 year old son, it took just over two and a half hours.  We had found all but two of the collectibles, so we did go back for those later.  Beating the game unlocks a Time Attack mode, where you will do the same stages (including the unskippable cutscenes), but try to get under a target time.  The only stages that are difficult to do like this are the boss stages.  Bosses are only vulnerable to damage at certain times, but their attack pattern is random, so you might be waiting awhile before you can actually hit them.

There's also a Survival mode, where you just fight waves of enemies.  It was kind of fun to do that, but again, it's mostly mindless button mashing.  The game was very forgiving, and we made it to wave 40 before we let ourselves die because the waves were becoming ridiculously long.  If you collect all the mutagen canisters, you unlock a silly old-school style arcade game where you fly a ship around a city and blast aliens.  Not a great reward, but at least better than its associated achievement.  The achievements in the game are not hard at all, so I suspect it will show up on many a achievement hunter's gamercard.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles did have its fun.  I played through the whole game co-op with my 7 year old and he had a blast.  The game is short, and very unpolished, but worth a rental if you are a fan of TMNT.  The game is more aimed at children, and my son had a lot of fun playing it, and even played on his own for a few hours.  It's not really worth purchasing, unless it's for a younger kid, and even then I wouldn't recommend it at it's release price.  However, it is a lot better than Out of the Shadows.

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