Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles never was my jam as a kid. Sure, I watched it occasionally if it was on but I was more of a Thundercats kid. However, I did still play the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games; the first one in the arcade and the sequel, Turtles in Time, on my friend’s SNES. Back then, the experience was great. Picking my favourite turtle (mine was Donatello) and beating up Shredder’s goons. Nowadays, that experience is sort of lost on me.
This is the second remake in the Summer of Arcade, the first being the fantastic Marvel vs Capcom 2, but it is easily the weakest.
Turtles in Time: Re-shelled isn’t much of a remake. It’s probably better to call it a direct port with a few graphical changes made to it. The graphics have been amped up, new animations and sounds have been added but the levels themselves are still pretty much the same as the SNES version, apart from the use of 3D. The transition to 3D has been done well on numerous occasions (see Mario 64 or the Ocarina of Time), but for Turtles in Time it becomes apparent that it’s 2D brethren is easily the better.
The swap to 3D for Re-shelled is needless and utterly wasted. Despite giving you eight directions of attack, you pretty much still follow the same 2D plain as normal. Enemies come at you in a straight line as you follow a liner path forwards. You might think that maybe the 3D plain would allow you to explore the levels a bit. Alas no. You just go forwards, beating up enemies that come directly at you or from behind you. The 3D, if anything, makes the experience worse because it is hard to deduce from which plain of field an enemy is attacking you from, and then the eight directions of attack work against you.
The combat itself isn’t all that exciting anyway. You basically have four attacks, three of which come from the same button: ground melee, sliding melee, aerial melee and special attack. There are no real combinations to these attacks, so it tends to just end up with you smashing X repeatedly with the occasional Y for the special attack. Sure, occasionally your turtle will slam an enemy into the ground or swing them off screen, but these occur randomly and have no real bearing on what buttons you press. It ends up being a rinse and repeat procedure with the enemies, even more so with the bosses, which don’t really break up the combat all that much (you’re forced to only do aerial attacks once in a while).
The game itself is incredibly frustrating. Not in a “learn from your mistakes” kind of frustrating, but a “that wasn’t even fair!” kind of frustrating. This all seems to be down to the “traps”. The first example that comes to mind is the Sewer level, but i’ll get back to that later. Another is the ship level in which planks, if stepped on, will hit you in the face. It is almost impossible to see the planks which are traps, especially with a number of turtles and enemies on screen at one time. The collision detection is quite broad too, so if you happen to so much as go near the trap, it will somehow hit you square in the face. What’s more annoying is that during some levels, if you are knocked down by a trap you can get hit by another trap while you recover from the previous one.
The above example comes from the Sewer level, in which you surf down the sewers of New York avoiding closing gates and red mines. This would be ok if your turtle didn’t control like he was swimming through a vat of Golden Syrup. It is almost impossible to avoid any of the traps in this level and, what with the mines so close together, if you hit one it is guaranteed you will hit the next one as you try to get up.
The worst thing about Turtles in Time is that it’s only an hour long at most. Seriously. An hour. For 800 MS Points. If that doesn’t put you off, I don’t know what will.
The game advertises co-op as a main part of the game. But even that is no fun. The constant confusion with what is going on on-screen coupled with network problems every few minutes makes it one of the most infuriating online experiences I’ve ever had.
Granted, the game does look pretty. The redesigned turtles looks like their recent cartoon companions and levels pop and shine with colour, giving it a light hearted edge that is really appealing to the eye. But it is hard to sell a game on graphics alone when the rest of the game is so bad.
In short, don’t buy this game. The fact that it only has about an hours worth of gameplay for 800 MS Points is enough to make this a stupid purchase. If you have fond childhood memories of Turtles in Time, keep them by not playing this game. it will only ruin those memories.