Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Bay & Liebesman Movie Tie-in Game) Review for Nintendo 3DS

     Publisher Activision and developer Magic Pockets teamed up once again to give us yet another mundane Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game.  That isn't to say it's all bad- this new Nintendo 3DS Bay & Liebesman movie tie-in has quite a few merits, and a fair amount of enjoyability for any TMNT enthusiasts out there.
     I suppose it shouldn't be too surprising that this wasn't a Triple A title because there wasn't any marketing campaign for it- hell, the Gamestop staff didn't even know it was available when I went in to pick up my preorder.

     Spoiler Warning!

     The story has little to do with the film, apparently taking place after the film and The Shredder is alive.  April sends the Turtles on a slew of small missions in very linear levels.  It begins with Master Splinter missing and grows from there.  The plot is sparse and spread over the game's 15 story missions and 10 side missions.  Its brevity could've been easier to swallow if there was more action to be had.  The battles become tiresome swiftly and by the 3/4ths completion time I was hoping the end would come much sooner than it did.  What makes the story irritating is the fact there is often repeated phrases by the Turtles that doesn't come close to what the dialogue boxes say and it is super distracting.
     On a good note, they've included some nice takes on a few other familiar faces from TMNT history.  Baxter Stockman, the Rat King, and Slash all make appearances.

     The good part of the game are the near-button-mashing combat.  It isn't as awesome as it sounds, because in later stages combat becomes a slog- you have to be familiar with each individual Turtle's specialties and use each of them to best effect the circumstances at hand.  Then the most annoying aspect of the game is the slowing mechanic employed by many enemies that slow you to a crawl.  It is downright maddening when you are surrounded by enemies and can't move faster than a slug.  To make that effect worse- it is used constantly in the last quarter of the game.  It is a poor decision to use this effect to prolong the late game.  You might think I'm kidding but towards the end you get bombarded with huge amounts of extremely damaging enemies that can eat away your life bar in seconds if you get caught in a "slow" status while being swarmed.

     The skills and leveling systems are quite nice.  Each level gains some skill points to disperse among whatever Turtle(s) you favor and the weapons can either be found or made in a crafting section in the sewer lair area.  Weapons have various attributes and some come with added elemental status effects like poison or electricity, but it really doesn't change much.  (A note about the lair- one really overlooked problem in the game is an inability to change which Turtle you are in the lair itself.  Anywhere else in the game it is possible, so how did they miss it in the lair?!?)
     Each Turtle has unique abilities and it really does change how they are played and how they feel and it adds a nice element of strategy to the game.  Both active and passive skills may be chosen, and it really comes down to your chosen playstyle which is really nice.  Raphael becomes a near-invulnerable tank, Leonardo can cut through swathes of shielded enemies, Donatello is good for horde control, and Michelangelo is perfect for long range attacks.  This gradually increases the ways you can use each character as the game progresses.  Sadly though, each Turtle has a unique way to access "special areas" like Donatello hacking his way through or Michelangelo using chains to go down a manhole- but there are so few of these included that it seems tacked on at the last minute.
     Honestly, once I leveled Mike up, he makes the end levels and the absurdly lengthy last boss fight (and last challenge extra battle being a repeat of this) far shorter than it would've been with any of the other three.  This may sound terrible, but trust me- it is a very, very drawn out battle where you have to fight not only The Shredder, but all the previous bosses (one at a time) and repeated shadowy versions of all the Turtles.  Using Mike's multi-hit shuriken with all its boosts and the boomerang and saved me on tons of boring play time with that lazy end boss structure.

     When the game was over I felt it was a half-hearted cash grab timed to coincide with the theatrical release, but for the $29.99 price tag, I'd say it was worth it.  There's enough here to please long time Ninja Turtle fans, and plenty for the young audiences.  (Although the difficulty seems a tad on the high side for children players.)
     It isn't awful by any means.  And actually I think this is a great improvement over Magic Pockets' Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game.  Many small improvements, but at least they are in the right direction- this one is almost a dungeon crawler/beat-em-up/RPG.  Almost.
     Really, I think they need to make a game like the Marvel Lego Superheroes- a massive open-world 4 player action-adventure RPG loaded with little stuff to do (think of a combination of Skyrim and Grand Theft Auto) and designed solely for endless fun.

     For more of my Turtles posts [ TMNT ]

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