Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles PS2 Review

We have fond childhood memories of the Teenage Mutant “Hero” Turtles, they represented everything that was cool to us and also happened to be giant -Pizza eating- turtles named after famous painters, it was a terrible concept but at the time we loved it. Recently Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael have been on the comeback trail and this game is a result of their attempted return and a spin-off of their latest TV outing.

We’re a little out of touch with kids TV these days, as we’re a bit old for watching shows about giant turtles etc. The Turtles game taught us that the foursomes’ art style is very different from the one we remember, now boasting a more realistic and sharper edge. The game is filled with these stylish sequences and kids these days are treated to a better art style then we were with the Hero Turtles. The gorgeous cel-shaded graphics have perfectly captured the lush look of the show. It’s not all red roses though as the frame rate dips to a (no pun intended) turtle-like crawl on occasion, which doesn’t exactly do the game any favours. On the upside the games action is nicely highlighted with Comic Book style “thud” captions, which accompanies every single hit you give or take.

It’s very glossy to look at, but how does it play? Well you can go back as far as Double Dragon for this one, as it’s one of those games that have you wandering through levels and beating down everything that moves. We don’t see many of these games anymore, and it’s certainly a nice reminder of this almost extinct of genres. Some may say that this genre has almost died out due to the more evolving and demanding gamer, and we can agree with that, as they’re as brainless, shallow and non-taxing as you’re going to get. There’s the usual scrolling Story Mode, a one on one Vs Mode and a Challenge Mode (unlocked after the completion of the game) to engage in turtle action with.

You are given the option to choose your turtle at the beginning of the Story Mode and have six lives to get from the start to the end of a stage. You have to fight your way through all the areas (which vary in number) before encountering the boss. If you are playing a two-player game, lives are shared, which means your partner could throw away most of your lives without little slip-up from yourself. The game did only challenge us on a few occasions though, with the remainder being a cakewalk. The fact that you can save the game at the end of each stage also makes the end of the game much easier to reach.

The games two-player mode is tremendous fun, although the lack of four-player support is a bit of a missed opportunity. There are four turtles but only support for up to two players, which is as questionable as it is disappointing. We suspect that the game could have suffered even worse in the frame rate department if there had been anymore then two players playing the game. Hey, we’re not totally complaining as the 2-player mode offers enough thrills to keep us happy enough and content.

At least each of the four turtles offers passable diversity from one another. Despite being mostly unique, the turtles can feel a little samey due to very similar and limited button presses for each move. This isn’t a “in your face” problem as keeping things simple is the magnificent tradition of such brawlers. Naturally the four characters have their signature weapons and a fair few of their very own moves, in addition they also share a few actions as well as carry a stash of shurikens to dispose of enemies from afar, primarily by taking out highly explosive barrels, conveniently placed throughout the games environments. During the game new moves can also be earned in the one-player Dojo stages after completing challenges, although why a two-player game only allows for player one to earn attacks is beyond us.

Although any of the other problems we have mentioned, don’t measure up to the games biggest problem, which is a fixed volatile camera that can make the game frustrating to play. When the camera is good it’s a real friend, but when it’s bad it can be the big bad devil himself. Awkward camera angles can thwart your awareness during the game and there were times when we just didn’t know what the hell was going on, thankfully the camera is mostly consistently good, but the rest of the time it’s a total hindrance to the experience.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a nice throwback to the day when Streets of Rage and Final Fight ruled the roost during the 16-bit era. Fans of the brand new Turtles show should lap it all up (or even retro fan sentimentalists of the old show), whilst for the rest of us it’s either an utterly shallow experience or a great reminder of days gone by, albeit with an occasionally annoying camera and frame rate issues.