Platform: Available on all systems, tested on the Nintendo Wii for this review
Rating: 3.6 out of 5
The newest in a long line of video games for fans of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle franchise, TMNT is not only the best console game out of the bunch, but it is also is the closest adaptation to the original Mirage Studios characters.
As a fan of the Turtles characters since middle school, I always take some time to check out any video game title that features the Mutant Ninjas. Konamis first 8-bit Turtles game kind of sucked, but that didnt stop me and my friends from playing the hell out of it. Many of the arcade and console games in the Turtles franchise since then have been great, with hours and hours of replay value. My personal favorite was Konamis 2003 offering, gorgeous on the Xbox, with some of the best cel-shading rendered characters of any comic book adaptation Ive played. However, this newest offering out-classes all of them.
As many critics have already noted about the game, it borrows much from the controls already established by the Prince of Persia line. This is outstanding, as the POP series was not only classic fun, it really helped spearhead a new level of platform game animation and expanded the range of movement for almost every game across the board. The controls are responsive and the action is fast paced. This is light years ahead of the first NES Turtles game, which basically used the same engine as the first Contra home console version. Each Turtle has a different special ability, Michelangelo can use his nunchucks like a helicopter and float a little bit, Donatello can pole vault gaps with his bo staff, Raphael strikes the quickest and can throw his sai, while Leonardo has a deadly range and is the most effective fighter with a katana in each hand.
The 3D environments are superb. Your missions take you throughout New York City for a good amount of the game. You run over roof tops, shimmy across the face of skyscrapers - even traipse upon the surface of the huge balloons of the Macys Day Parade high above the streets. When I actually got to the part where you jet atop the balloons it was an awesome moment, the scale was magnificent and that was the point where I really was like, This is exactly how a ninja gets down, damn right. The perspective is outstanding and the city is rendered nicely, with a smattering of graffiti burners and throw-ups all over the city. Some larger graffiti pieces, maybe some commissions by a group of dope writers could have made this look a little more fly, but still this is one of the better looking urban environments Ive had the pleasure of navigating. The camera is fully automated and was adequate to navigate without hampering the game play.
The controls are very natural once you get a feel for the range of motion the turtles can now accomplish. One glitch on the Wii, which could be annoying, is that if the Wii remote is not pointed directly at the screen, your character can get stuck in a squatting position while the controller vibrates non-stop. There is nothing on the screen to indicate what is causing this and for awhile I thought I was taking some sort of damage. Fear not, because once the Wii remote is again pointed at the screen game play returns to normal.
The Wii remote works so well with the game that it seems like the unlockable mini-games were made just for it. One mini game has you chucking shuriken at guerilla soldiers and the way you flick your wrist is so natural that its hard to imagine playing this board any other way. In this title the mini games are really solid, one in particular that stands out is very Tron-esque in its design with an all digital 3D environment that just looked so dope I had to play it over and over so I could check out the background some more. A note to all game publishers: some people like the mini games so do not slack on this aspect! Thankfully TMNT delivers with more than half a dozen fresh little games that Ive already unlocked so far.
You can also unlock bonus weapons and Easter eggs with points you get from completing the missions. I unlocked one called ghastly gas which makes your turtle fart hella. Its hilarious because it is totally random - you might be jumping or fighting whatever when you bust a hot fart and a plume of gas comes out of the turtles a**. Be cautioned: the fart spray looks just like the hot steam from some pipes which causes damage. One time I farted and got a little scared because I thought I had just burned the Turtle.
The voice acting is solid, even though as an original Mirage fan I get tired of the sophomoric dude thats totally awesome and pizza jokes all the dang time. But I am not mad at this game! This version manages to capture the grittiness and dark tone of the earlier Eastman and Laird universe. For some reason I feel like superheroes continue to make the best video game characters. I mean, Ultimate Spiderman and Hulk: Ultimate Destruction are two of the sickest games ever for the Xbox. Id like to see a TMNT RPG for the new consoles with Fugitoid as the main character.
Overall, if you like platformer games or are a fan of the Turtles, you will enjoy this title. It looks sharp and plays well. The characters are well suited for the action and the environment is compelling. (This sh*t is Ninja Gaiden status with turtles!) Furthermore, this is one of the few movie adaptations for gamers that deliver an experience that stands on its own as a good time. This title probably renders best on a PC or Xbox360, but even on the Wii the backgrounds are handsome and the controls are peppy. Go Ninja Go Ninja GO!
Gentle Jones is online right now at www.gentlejones.com