Turtles. Ninjas. Kickass martial arts. These make up the landscape of a very exciting child’s dream. For me, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons were the best things around. Videos of every one on my shelf. Well, that was ten years ago, and this arcade title helps to bring back some of those memories.
With its vivid, cartoon styling, TMNT 1989 brings back one of the classic arcade games of the late eighties. Opening with a fairly cheap looking start screen, my expectations however, were not high. Going into the first level, I choose which character to use – I chose Rafael, always my favourite – and begin to play. My low expectations turned out to be justified, as the first level set the tone for the whole game – extremely underwhelming. While it feels exciting with arcade controls in an arcade (I was lucky enough to play the original on an upright cabinet), with an Xbox 360 pad in hand, the game feels to simplistic and monotonous.
As with many of the ported arcade classics in the XBLA, the playing screen consists of a low resolution emulation of the game, framed by new artwork. Playing, as I do, on a projector, the screen looks extremely pixelated and even the options menu, which was designed specifically for the Xbox 360, feels very low rent.
The game, while the story progresses, stays very much the same preventing it from shaking the inherent feeling of monotony as you play. For me, there seemed very little motivation to finish the actual game, the only reason I could find to keep going was the achievements and if any achievement-junkies are considering it for an easy 200 points – forget it! The achievements are not in the slightest accessible and to get quite a few of them without earning a well deserved RSI, you will have to find a partner. Accepting that this is a fairly old game now, there is little chance of finding anyone to play Co-Op with on LIVE so you will have to rely on a player similar to yourself to play with.
All considered, the game is not terrible. It still bears the trademarks of its arcade heritage. But alas, as with much of the electronically fossilized contents of the XBLA, TMNT 1989 Arcade has not aged well. Pick it up for nostalgia’s sake or if you are a great fan of the franchise. Otherwise, your collection should not feel too empty without it.