We were pleased to discover that the TMNT franchise hasn’t undergone a total overhaul for the new CGI Nickelodeon series, and ergo this timely tie-in. Other than a handful of minor changes – such as Baxter Stockman now stomping around in a mech-suit rather than turning into some grotesque man/fly hybrid – they’re still the same heroes in a half shell that we knew and loved back in our youth. The absence of the dim-witted duo Bebop and Rocksteady is somewhat regrettable, but we’ll get over it.
It’s a shame that the formula behind the numerous Turtles tie-ins hasn’t moved with the times. Ever since Konami released their classic coin-op way back in 1989, it would appear that they’ve been typecast as simplistic side-scrolling brawlers no matter what publisher holds the license.
Just like the arcade original from all those years ago, the two-button combat system is beyond basic. So much so that there isn’t even a block button. Enemies emit a red glow when they’re about to attack, but there’s no way to dodge, counter or evade. All you can do is walk away like some sort of reluctant hero. The only real flourish as far as combat is concerned is the ability to grab enemies and throw them into the screen. Developers Magic Pockets obviously have a soft spot for the SNES’s Turtles in Time.
A score multiplier system has been implemented, but when playing on your lonesome it’s totally redundant. The combat upgrade system is similarly sloppy – we managed to unlock every single combo by the end of the second level, leaving just the health and attack damage upgrades. The chance to play online could have saved the scoring system, but being a budget effort online co-op play clearly wasn’t on the ‘to do’ list.
Heck, we wouldn’t be surprised at all to learn that the development budget was lower than that the recent XBLA brawler TMNT: Out of the Shadows. Even if this was an Xbox 360 launch game it would have looked outdated – backdrops can only be described as sterile, animation appears unfinished and character models are on the scruffy side. There’s so little passion for the license on display that Activision may have as well asked the Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts studio to have handled it.