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Monday, June 18, 2007

Game Review:TMNT

An admirable effort that is better than the movie. Really.

I have always adored those special turtles for their special abilities and have watched their cartoons when young. So, the question is: Did this game satisfy my want for another turtle adventure? Being a movie tie-in, I was not expecting much from TMNT, but after playing the game, I felt that it was not so bad after all. Read on to uncover more details.

My first impression of TMNT upon booting up the game was ‘wow!’ Graphically speaking, TMNT excels. Environments boast high details and are a pleasure to look at. Animations are smooth and character models look good as well. In fact, it left me wondering whether I was really playing with a DS game.

The game does follows the storyline of the movie very faithfully and you get to play as all the turtles, albeit with turn-taking involved, but gameplay, unfortunately, is considerably limited. The idea behind the main gameplay is to hit the Y button to jump forward, the X button to jump left and the A button to jump right. At times, you would be required to press and hold down the B button to push your turtle off an edge or swing around a beam. All these make for fairly basic gameplay. You do not even need to aim for any platform as that would be done by the game. However, the game compensates for this by giving you rewards if you can leap fast enough from one point to another. There are also other special tokens to be collected throughout each level. The second component of the gameplay is combat. Unfortunately again, combat is also quite basic. Hitting the B button repeatedly would make your turtle do some tricks with its weapon, while the A button is assigned to a special spin attack and a finishing move that can be done at a time specified by the game. The combat would be more exciting had the game made use of the L and R buttons and introduce the ability to build up multiple moves, as well as combo moves. The game would have been a much deeper one if those 2 gameplay components mentioned are corrected to give the player more decisions.

That being said, the game must not be mistaken as a breeze-through. Some levels may actually require retries if you are not careful enough. In the later stages, there will be traps like closing walls, electric shocks and noxious gases that do some massive damage to your turtle, especially the closing walls. Boss fights are challenging – knowing when to attack and when to let go and dodge will prove the difference between life and death for your turtle; quick reflexes are necessary. However, not all levels are as challenging. Instead, I find the game levels to be very unbalanced. While some missions are short and incredibly easy (this also happens at a few levels later in the game), others would not allow progression as easily.

Sound-wise, the music that came through the DS speakers goes hand in hand with the game and its atmosphere. Game duration is an area where the game fails to ace. With each mission lasting less than 15 minutes and with only 15 missions available, I am not wrong to say that it is possible for one to complete the entire game in about 2 hours or less, not putting some retries into account. Yes, TMNT is a very short game, but while it lasts, I find it quite fun to play with even though it may be flawed at some points. Leaping here and there gives me a sense of rush – you know, like Spiderman swinging from building to building. My last gripe with the game: It fails to use the DS’s unique features in any way, but that is okay with me as long as the game is fun.

Final comments
Ubisoft has put in some appluadable efforts into creating the DS version of TMNT instead of just treating as the game as ‘come-on-just-another-movie-game’ project. The graphics are excellent for a DS game, the game is quite challenging as a whole, and the sound is rightfully paired with the game. Moreover, the game follows the movie closely and you get to play as all 4 of the turtles. All those positives, however, are marred by the basic gameplay of TMNT, very unbalanced levels, and a super short game duration. Overall, though, I find TMNT to be a good play.


The Good
- Excellent graphics
- Follows movie faithfully and opportunities to play as all 4 turtles
- Overall, quite a challenging game
- Appropriate sound

The bad
- Fairly basic gameplay
- Very unbalanced levels
- Short game duration – less than 2 hours


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