Thursday, August 6, 2009

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled (360, PS3) Review

Yesterday, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled hit Xbox Live Arcade after huge anticipation. Let's see how it holds up since 1991 with this review.

All's Shell That Ends Shell

Back in 1991, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were all the rage. Comic books, TV shows, clothing, apparel, movies, party favors, Halloween costumes, cereal, trading cards, and yes, video games. No Turtles game is looked back upon more fondly than Turtles in Time for the Super Nintendo and arcades. Eighteen years later, Ubisoft has decided to gussy the game up with brand new high-definition graphics for Xbox 360 gamers. The outcome is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled for Xbox Live Arcade. Will this remake make you want to party like it's 1991?

Turtles in Time is your standard beat-em-up. You move along a side-scrolling path, beating up anything and everything that stands in your way from the level's boss. Apart from some foreground projectiles, there's nothing really in the levels that's wholly interactive. The focus is put strictly on beating enemies up. Re-Shelled is a remake of the arcade version of Turtles in Time, so there's differences between this and the SNES version. For one, the technodrome level is absent, and some of the bosses are exchanged for others or absent altogether. As for bosses, it's a mixed bag. Some like Baxter the Fly and Mechaturtle are easy to exploit once the pattern is recognized while others like Shredder and Krang are overpowered to the point of being cheap.

This time around you can attack in eight directions.

There's three modes to Re-Shelled: Story, Survival, and Quick Play. The latter allows you to enter any completed level at your leisure. Survival gives you one life to live with the goal to get as far through the game's nine levels as possible. Story follows the turtles as they track down their nemesis Shredder and the nefarious Krang as they've stolen the Statue of Liberty. And it was just reopened for people to enter the crown, you jerks! Shredder somehow gets the power to transport the turtles back in time, and it's up to the turtles to find their way back home. With only three modes, nine levels, a quick half hour of playing, a couple of times through the game, and no unlockables, there's really little for most players to keep coming back to. Thankfully, there's online play for up to four friends or complete strangers. You can't join an already in progress game like you could in the arcades, but then again you don't have to spend an endless supply of quarters to continue.

The old wrecking ball returns to "throom" turtles.

Battling baddies, foot soldiers, rock monsters, killer sewer creatures, and rambunctious robots is simplicity as its finest. One button attacks and one jumps. Sometimes you'll hurl a foe at the screen and not even know how you did it. Sure, there's the ability for a turtle's special attack, but in most cases the best course of action is a repetitive one-- mashing the attack button until your thumb falls asleep. That isn't to say the game gets old quickly, however. There's enough variety in levels-- traps, enemy types, etc-- to keep things interesting-- especially with friends locally or online.

Re-Shelled isn't exactly a faithful retelling of Turtles in Time. In this version, players can attack not only on X and Y axes but now on the z-axis as well. This means the turtles in addition to enemies can attack in eight directions. The crux of this is that strategies that worked in the 2-D versions won't necessarily work in the HD remake. Additionally, playing the game alone can be an effort in frustration as being ganged up on is all the more dangerous since you can be attacked from all sides instead of just to the left or right. Fans of the classic soundtrack of Turtles in Time will be shell-shocked as it has been replaced with some awfully poor music. Let's just say you'll be thankful your Xbox has a custom soundtrack feature.

With four players, the action gets very hectic.

Presentation-wise is where Re-Shelled got the biggest upgrade. This version of the game borrows heavily on the recent CG movie than the old comic books and 1990s television series. The game runs at a smooth clip, features some impressive locales, and it's pretty much a pleasure to look at. The turtles are voiced by their 2000 cartoon series brethren, and all of the dialogue from the original Turtles in Time is present and re-dubbed. Those of you who known the game verbatim will feel right at home with this remake in that regard.

It's a bird, it's a plane, no, it's Super Krang.

All in all, TMNT Turtles in Time Re-Shelled isn't the classic Turtles in Time that many of us have been clamoring for. It's made of changes to the formula that not all players will be able to appreciate. The ability to attack from eight sides changes the game considerably, the addition of a different soundtrack is an odd design decision at best, and the lack of real unlockables hurts the game's longevity. That notwithstanding, for 800 points, Re-Shelled is definitely a cheaper alternative than inserting quarter after quarter into an arcade machine. Despite its quirks, this remake gets a recommendation. Just make sure you utilize online for best results.

[SuperPhillip Says: 7.0/10]

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