Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled Review Rewind
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On 06/27/2012 at 12:00 PM by Esteban Cuevas
This is the one with Pizza Monsters...
To fans of classic beat-em-ups like X-Men, Sunset Riders and The Simpsons.
When I was young, there was a pizza place near where I lived that had a bunch of arcade machines. Despite the presence of classics like Killer Instinct 2 and a 6-player X-Men cabinet, I always gravitated toward a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time cabinet. Flash forward to a few years ago and I found myself clocking hours with friends via a MAME emulator on my computer. Our first choice? None other than Turtles in Time. Needless to say, as far as beat-'em-ups go, it was always one of the best, standing shoulder to shoulder with both The Simpsons Arcade and X-Men.
Fortunately, Ubisoft also understood the game's greatness, allowing me to put away the emulator and opt for their upgraded port, Re-Shelled. The Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network title packs quite the punch, offering a mix of updated HD visuals, improved gameplay mechanics, and four player online co-op. As a straight update of the Arcade version, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled leaves out the content added in the Super Nintendo version and the Sega Genesis offshoot, The Hyperstone Heist. But who cares! The arcade version was tons of fun and this version maintains that.
The high definition visuals are beautifully done, with a clean and vibrant comic book aesthetic. The new animations for the turtles and Foot Clan soldiers are fluid and quick although the eight directional attack animations seem visually off. This presents itself primarily in the horizontal attacks, as they don't look as fluid as the others. Little touches like the comic explosions with "bamf" and "thwomp" in the dust clouds, enemies falling on their backs while jumping over a fence, and some of them losing balance and falling off their hover boards give the game more personality, although the speech bubbles from the turtles are missing from the original.
Other changes have been made to the general presentation, most notably new voice actors and a darker graphical style based on the most recent TMNT television series. Some of the bosses reflect this change and their designs are clearly different from before. A new soundtrack has also been recorded. This will irk many long time fans of the Ninja Turtles and the original game, although it's of no real consequence to the gameplay.
Anyone that's played a beat-'em-up knows what this one is all about: walking and jumping around a two dimensional plane beating up enemies by mashing on the attack button. An improvement on the original is that players can now attack in all eight directions, and special attacks can be done with a separate button. As simple as it may be, the solid controls, memorable bosses, levels, and of course, the license itself, make the game memorable and fun after all these years.
You can play as Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello or Raphael. Each turtle has advantages over the others. You'll quickly find a favorite, whether it's Raphael and his powerful strikes or Donatello and his long range attacks. Each level has a distinct design and no two levels look alike. You'll travel from the sewers to a pirate ship to a moving train to a futuristic highway. The time travel aspect to the storyline is used to its full potential and the levels are indicative of that.
Enemies mostly consists of foot soldiers but they all have various methods of attack with their uniform color dictating what that attack method is. Some will have swords, others will have bombs and others still will have throwing stars - the variations go on and on. Other enemies are fan favorites from the 80s cartoon such as pizza monsters, stone warriors, and roadkill rodneys. Bosses are also from the same cartoon series along with Tokka and Rahzar from the second feature movie and can be a challenging endeavor. The boss Leatherhead, for example, increases the speed of his attack pattern as he gets closer to defeat, making for a frustrating battle.
Turtles in Time Re-Shelled is great fun while it lasts, but therein lies the problem; the fun doesn’t last. The game can be completed in under an hour. Considering that this was originally an arcade game designed to suck quarters out of kids at the malt shop (yeah, there was a malt shop in my city), the difficulty level is surprisingly low. You can raise the level higher but it mostly just affects the amount of lives.
It seems Ubisoft decided to lower the difficulty to appease the current crowd of players. However, older games like this got its replay value from its difficulty. Maybe that’s why Ubisoft added a survival mode, to see if you can complete the whole game with one life. That simply isn’t enough. Other features like being able to save your progress after beating a level is a nice addition, but even that makes it easier too. As is, there isn’t enough here to keep players busy. Maybe including the original arcade game and the SNES port would have helped.
One thing you can’t deny, however, is the fun factor of the game. The game may last an hour, but that’s one fun hour. The updated animations are well done; if you played the original coin-op game, you'll be in awe of the visual updates provided. There really isn't anything wrong with this title other than its brevity. It’s a great party game to play with friends when they come over (if you have two to four controllers) or online. If you have nostalgia for the game or the Turtles, this is for you. If you don’t, there may still be something here for you.