It wasn’t hard to fall in love with Konami’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time when you were eight years old. The brawler allowed you to pick your bipedal turtle of choice and smash through a few memorable locales plucked from the television series. But eight-year-olds can also fall in love with Twinkies and Power Rangers. Most twenty-somethings leave those silly feelings behind.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled (Xbox LIVE Arcade)
Konami unleashed the original game in arcades in 1991. It was a quarter-sucker, a basic brawler with cheap enemies possessing nonsensical and unbreakable looping attacks. Hot in arcades and on the television, the property was ported to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1992. Serious changes were made -- new enemies were created and the nasty sewer level was tacked on as a bonus -- but it more or less resembled the memorable arcade title.
The combat is mundane and without nuance. There are four attacks: a basic melee, a special (basic) melee, an aerial melee, and a sliding melee. With the exception of the special attack, everything is activated with the press of a single button. Unlike Fable II, the basic button smashing does nothing for the game. There aren’t any combinations or special depression activations. There are, however, flourishes. You can grab an enemy by his ankles and smash him into the ground or throw him into the television screen, but these are random occurrences. This, coupled with the lack of even a basic combo, makes for a stale experience of the mindless variety.
A special lashing is required for the Sewer Surfin’ level. There’s a reason it was tacked on in the SNES version of the game. It’s very arcadey, seemingly designed to snatch quarters. While you surf atop icky green ooze, a gamut of environmental obstacles -- soldiers, red sewer urchins (or whatever), and swinging gates -- present themselves in unavoidable instances. Response to the obstacles is difficult because the turtles move like they’re underwater, pushing against an invisible current. But the kicker is that whenever an obstacle knocks a turtle down, he can get whacked by another (and then another) while stuck in the recovery animation. This happens with bosses as well, and it’s endlessly frustrating.
I don’t have an intimate connection with the source material, but memories did flood back to me in waves as I jumped from level to level. Unfortunately, nostalgia doesn’t operate in this game’s favor: it’s too faithful to the original. The broken levels, mundane combat, meager play options, and short play time are factors that dwarf the delicious presentation and whatever fond memories you may have. If you’re a Turtles fan, just remember the good times. There’s no reason to try to rekindle them with this.
Score: 4 -- Below Average (4s have some high points, but they soon give way to glaring faults. Not the worst games, but are difficult to recommend.)
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