These four green sewer-dwelling heroes have fought it out with the baddies in cartoons, movies, toys, video games, and comics, and many of those adventures have been great and action-packed. But this is the first time I can recall being excited about a tabletop iteration of the universe.
T he Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have had a long and, for the most part, fruitful relationship with the world of videogames. As cartoon characters go, they are after all particularly suited to the medium - they run, they jump, they hit baddies with pointy things and sticks. All good fun. Most important of all, they have a huge existing fanbase, from hero-in-a-half-shell loving twentysomethings ahem right up to today's youngsters who have their own far inferior version of the classic series.
It's a shame then that Ubisoft haven't made more of the with this half-baked Super Smash Bros clone. It's not suprising that there are similarities between the two games: TMNT Smash-Up it's made by the same team responsible for the popular Nintendo beat-em-up series.
Common sense says
And you can see the logic - spend most of your production budget on acquiring a popularthen tweak an existing engine that's already proved popular with gamers. Sadly, this all-too-common laziness presents a few problems.
First off, there's something inherently 'wrong'-feeling about the floaty, double jump mechanics employed by characters in this context. Link and Mario fighting Peach on a cloud, hitting each other with hammers is a silly, fun premise so you take the feel of Smash Bros game at face value.
So April O'Neil being able to jump 30ft in the air just doesn't seem right. Meanwhile, the attempts to make this game different to its predecessor are largely cursory.
Ok, so the power-ups are pizzas and one of the levels is a sewer, but still the game doesn't have much of a Turtles-like feel about it. There's a wild west level, a level on a train - I don't remember those from the cartoon. Cursory too are the game's attempts to incorporate the Wii remote into gameplay - this is essentially a GameCube game and you're best off using a GameCube controller if you can find one.
The worst thing of all about TMNT is that you get the feeling that it doesn't really know what it's supposed to be. There are times where you can play it as a side-scrolling Streets of Rage-esque beaten up - but in small, Street Fighter like stages.
On the other hand, you can play one-on-one Street Fighter-esque bouts, but with simplistic, button-bashing Streets of Rage-like controls. It's the worst of both worlds. The most fun I had was with one of the mini-games - but these again smack of a lazy attempt to add a small amount of value to a repetitive game.
There's one in particular where you can shoot at a fairground style shooting gallery with the Wii remote which is particularly fun, but then on the otherhand there are stages where you simply have to see how many platforms you can jump up in 90 seconds.
So dull were these sorts of challenges that I often chose to kill my character rather than plough through them - you couldn't skip them. An attempt is made at some kind of narrative in the single-player Arcade mode, but the cutscenes are horrendously ugly - black and white stylised line drawings that bear no relation to a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle I ever saw.
The only saving grace is a well thought-out reward system where you can obtain objects, cutscenes and extra characters for certain achievements in the game. The objects can then be traded online - whether or not this will appeal to people playing the game I'm not sure, but the idea is commendable.
It's just a worse version of Smash Bros, with a poorly used. So why bother?