Review: After that Shredder creep!
The first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game topped a January 2006 poll on IGN.com of the most wanted Xbox Live Arcade titles. Not to be outdone, the second TMNT arcade game, Turtles in Time, landed at number six. So I think it's safe to say that Xbox 360 owners of a certain age love being a Turtle. With a new movie premiering in theaters today, Konami (the makers of the original arcade game) and Ubisoft (the current holder of the Turtles license) thought this is the perfect time to unleash the arcade classic from 1989 on the Xbox Live Arcade.
Like most arcade games from this time period, TMNT is a side-scrolling beat 'em up where Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Donatello and Raphael smash the Foot Clan. The four brothers march through seven levels (a burning apartment building, the streets of New York, the sewers, a parking garage, the highway, the factory and the Technodrome) taking on every familiar bad guy from the second greatest cartoon ever. As the Turtles move through all of these levels, it's easy to see that this XBLA release is an exact recreation of the arcade game.
Sadly, skill is greatly downplayed in a quarter-muncher like TMNT: The Arcade Game. Sure, it's very possible to get better at the game (and learning the proper techniques on how to use special moves is a must) but pounding the Continue button is the only way to make it to the end. Once again it makes me wish that the developers behind these arcade recreations for the Xbox Live Arcade would add in some way that limits the amount of continues that can be used. Or creating a special leaderboard like "Fewest Continues Used" or something. Because of this, the single player game is a bit of a letdown. Thankfully, the emulation kings of Digital Eclipse included both online and offline co-op and it shines.
Every XBLA fan remembers the problems with Contra's online co-op. It was laggy and buggy and dropped connections happened frequently. There are none of these problems with TMNT. There is occasional lag, but it is kept to a minimum and most games are completely lag-free for an awesome four-player online experience. Online co-op is also unique in that the game limits players to twenty continues each (worth $5 in 1989 or about how much I could con out of my mom whenever we were in the arcade). This makes the game much harder and after playing it once you'll realize that online co-op is the only way to play TMNT.
Maybe it's my old man eyes playing tricks on me, but I think the graphics don't seem to sparkle on an HDTV like they did when I was an eight-year old crowding around an arcade cabinet. They get the job done and all of the Turtles, the Foot, Krang, Bebop & Rocksteady and the Shredder look appropriately cartoony, but everything feels a little flat. However the burning building of the first level is still a great visual.
What I do like is that all of the original sound and music from the arcade original is present and accounted. That includes all of the digitized voices and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song! After being removed from the version of the arcade game that appeared on TMNT 2: Battle Nexus due to licensing reasons, it's good to have it back.