Other '80s cartoon franchises have fallen to the wayside since those neon-tinged days of yore. Some see revivals of varying quality, in the case of Transformers, Thundercats, and GI: Joe. One franchise that has hung around for years, constantly reinventing itself, is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. To go along with Nickelodeon's newest imagining of these heroes in a half-shell we've got a new game with the same name. These turtle boys have a long history of excellent games, and with the power of modern gaming technology it seems like making a fun, new turtle game should be a no-brainer.

As with many of the previous Turtles games, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles brings four-player brawling action to consoles, essentially acting as a 3D side-scrolling beat 'em up. You and your friends take control of the turtles and traverse the game's 15 stages, taking down Foot Clan members left and right as well as facing off against a few bosses. Simple is the name of the game here; you have a couple of attack buttons, a jump button, and a special item button. Most of the bells and whistles on your fancy controller will go unused.

You'll gain experience points as you take down the many baddies on the mean streets of New York, and can use these points to purchase new abilities. These abilities, however, are some of the most uninspired things you'll ever see, things like adding an additional hit at the end of a combo, or increasing your health. Don't come in expecting your gameplay options to increase as the game goes on — what you start with is pretty much what you get.

The combat may be about as average as it comes, but rampant glitches, bugs, and flaws drag the already mediocre experience down, like the glitches that snag players in place and leave them unable to move, or the awkward, unrefined animations in every cutscene. The voice actors from the Nickelodeon show reprise their roles as all of the major characters, which is great, but whoever cleaned up their audio did a terrible job, as some of the pre-recorded battle quips sound fuzzy and blown-out, like the actors were too loud or too close to the mic. Also, while the voices work well enough on the show, without Michaelangelo's traditionally surfer-esque voice, or Raphel's typically gruff tones, it's easy to get three of the four turtles mixed up — the exception here being Rob Paulsen, voice of the '80s Raphael and current Donatello, whose voice always rings out clearly and enthusiastically.

All sound issues and glitches aside, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a $40 game that feels like it should cost $15. Everywhere you look you'll see evidence of cut corners, small budget, and rushed development time. The boss fights go on for way too long, you'll spend too much time in the same area fighting excessive numbers of foes, and invisible walls hinder any semblance of exploration.

If you've got kids who're fans of this new show, TMNT will probably keep them entertained for a couple of hours. But, if you have the option, you and whoever you're playing with, whether it's your kids, your friends, or total strangers, would have much more fun going old-school with any of Konami's great Ninja Turtles titles.

This review is based on a retail copy of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles purchased for review on the Xbox 360.

 

4.5 out of 10 arcade sushi rating