NEXT year will mark the 30th anniversary of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. From the humble comic book beginnings of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s series, it exploded into a marketing company’s dream, invading the cultural mainstream in the early 1990s with a vengeance.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Xbox 360 (reviewed) / Wii / 3DS
Score: 4.6 / 10
Its profile has never quite reached those dizzy heights since, but there remains a great deal of affection for Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael.
The foursome’s forays into gaming have made a significant contribution to this goodwill. Who can forget the thrill of entering an arcade to discover Konami’s side-scrolling beat-’em-up? Offering four player co-operative play, the lovingly faithful brawler was later adapted to the Super Nintendo. The result, Turtles in Time, was arguably the best arcade game of the 16-bit era, providing a punchy and colourful Final Fight-inspired take on the franchise.
Four years ago, to mark the 25th anniversary, the title was given a flashing resurgence via Turtles in Time: Reshelled, a game which made no grandiose claims to invention. Notwithstanding a few cosmetic touch ups and the introduction of an online component, it was effectively a re-release of the original, and to the credit of Ubisoft - the then licence holder - this was reflected in the budget price when it launched on Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network. An unashamed homage to what came before, the game divided opinion, cheering those who hold a torch to the heroes in a half-shell while frustrating gamers who had hoped for a more edifying offering.
The latest game should draw a clear and withering consensus. Inspired by the current Nickelodeon reboot of the series, it appears Activision’s sole intention is to exploit the licence with minimal concession to quality. Using practically identical cursory controls as the arcade version, there is no attempt to disguise aspects of the original that have, frankly, dated badly. The game is a fleeting affair, completable in a single session. That is provided you have the perseverance to thoughtless slash your way past an army of enemies and forgive some suspect collision detection along the way.
The graphics, while mostly faithful to Nickelodeon’s artwork, offers clues of cut corners in the title’s development. The animation of the turtles in cutscenes is especially poor, perhaps only just befitting of the standards of the Nintendo 64. Mouths gape lazily out of time with the audio track like cows chewing cud, a motion that continues for several seconds after the speech comes to an end.
There are little touches here and there that will bring a smile to the face - throwing foes into the screen stirs memories of what once seemed new and playful - but they are few and far between. Nostalgia can only sustain such the game so far, and given it is retailing for £25, even the most ardent fans of the turtles should steer well clear, at least until it drops to under the £10 mark. Demanding any more is an act of thievery more wanton than any heist Shredder might concoct.