Review: TMNT: Turtles In Time Re-Shelled
Beat ’em Up/Retro Remake
Cowabunga or cow-a-dung-a? (sorry)
I was a fan of the original TMNT coin-op on XBLA. Yes, it was extremely cheap (the bad type of cheap) and the achievements wouldn’t unlock, but with anywhere from two to four players it was a blast and I really enjoyed it. That wasn’t the case with everyone however, so this remake of another Turtles coin-op has tried something a little different.
Some people may remember Turtles in Time from the SNES or maybe they played it in the arcade. For those unaware, Turtles in Time was a sidescrolling beat ’em up a la Streets of Rage or Final Fight released in 1991 by Konami. I have to admit to not playing either version so I will be reviewing this as a brand new game without rose tinted specs (although I loved the Turtles). This remake is based on the coin-op, not the SNES version which had extra levels.
I keep using the word ‘remake’ and that’s because this isn’t a straight port like the original Turtles coin-op XBLA game was. The graphics have been given a fully 3D makeover and you can now attack (and be attacked) in all directions, not just on the 2D plane. The music has also been changed.
You get a few extra game modes for your money this time around as well. Story Mode is simply the arcade game, Quickplay Mode allows you to play any level you’ve already completed and Survival Mode challenges you to complete the entire game without dying. All modes have four difficulty settings (Easy to Hardcore) which affect the amount of enemies you’re fighting at a time and boss health. All modes can be played with four player co-op, both online and offline, where each player assumes the role of one of the four turtles.
The online lobby system worked well every time I used it and the games were generally lag free, at the very least it certainly wasn’t game ruining. Having four players fighting large groups of enemies at a time can get a little confusing with all the explosions happening on screen, but if you lose your character a quick tap of the left trigger will help you pinpoint your turtle in the crowd. I would actually suggest that the game is best played with two or three players, rather than the full four as it does get a little hectic.
Graphically the game looks quite nice, with very colourful and cartoony looking graphics and everything is animated very well in keeping with the style. Certainly it looks good for an XBLA title. Voice samples have been recorded for the turtles and bosses which play at scripted moments and these too fit well and sound authentic. However, when the same one plays every time you hit a trap, which could happen three times in a row, numerous times in a level, it gets annoying.
The fact that you can get hit three times in a row is in itself a joke. You get hit, you get stunned, you should then be invincible until you recover. Not the case in Turtles in Time. There will be many times where you will just keep getting hit with nothing you can do to counter it. This will mostly occur during boss fights, but also with the traps on level three. It has caused many deaths and is most frustrating when attempting Survival Mode. If you are going to go to the trouble of updating all the graphics, and allowing people to attack in all directions then you’d think they’d fix these little annoyances as well. It is understandable (but still not really acceptable) in an arcade game as more lives means more money, but there is no excuse for it here.
As a massive fan of the original cartoon (not the dire new one with the shit alien triceratops enemies) I was eagerly anticipating this. I never played the original due to not owning aSNES at the time, and it’s been too long since I last played a good side scroller. Shame, then, that it’s quite a disappointment.
The most important element of this genre is the combat mechanics, and here it just feels very poorly done. The (very limited) move set doesn’t really seem to have that much â€œoomphâ€ when hits connect, and they don’t feel as powerful as they should. Each turtle’s weapon has different attributes, but it would have been interesting to see a little more personality and individuality to differentiate them a little more.
One major annoyance was that the enemies basically become invincible during certain animations which is incredibly frustration â€“ especially during boss battles, which aren’t really that enjoyable to begin with. Another thing worth mentioning is that, in changing from 2D to 3D, targeting enemies leads to more hassle than it really should and it just ends up feeling rather clunky and awkward.
The online four player co-op is one of the games few positives, but it also made me wonder why you can’t play alongside three AI controlled turtles in single player. All in all, it’s nothing more than a below average sidescroller wrapped up in the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles universe. It’s good to see that Microsoft were sensible in reducing the original (ridiculous) 1200 points price to 800, it’s just a shame they didn’t shave another 400 off since it’s worth nothing more.
You do wonder how much thought actually went into the changes they have made as well. I’ve mentioned a couple of times that you can attack in all directions, but certain bosses have attacks which cannot. These moves still only work on the 2D plane, so as long as you stay above or below the boss whilst you attack these moves are totally ineffective and make certain boss encounters in the later levels a joke.
The gameplay itself isn’t deep as it is, where simply tapping X constantly works for the majority of the game, so you’d have preferred the bosses to have a little more complexity. X uses your main attack, which you can use infinitely, but that’s not your only method for dishing out damage (although it’ll be your most effective through the levels). There is a pizza which appears in levels every now and then which makes your turtle spin like a top destroying every enemy you bump into (another refills your life gauge), the Y button allows you to use a special attack that knocks all regular enemies to the ground (effective when you’re being over run) and you also have two jump attacks depending on whether you do a single or double jump (pointless due to the lack of platforming).
Against most bosses the jump attack is devastating. You can stay out of range of their attacks and jump in and kick them and jump away again before they know what hit them making most of the boss battles a test of endurance rather than skill. The bosses are also invincible during certain animations meaning you can only hurt them when the game says you can, whether you got a blatantly clean hit on them or not, further extending the length of these fights.
Plenty of problems then, but if you’ve got friends who are willing to play this with you regularly and you enjoyed the original XBLA game then this may well be worth a look. The Survival Mode will probably hold your attention the longest as the Story Mode can be a little easy. In single player once you’ve got all of the achievements (not difficult) then you’ll struggle to find a reason to come back, but it’s not a bad multiplayer title to break out every now and then and at 800 points it’s cheaper than the majority of games being released on the service at the minute.