Teenage mutant mayhem

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For my first game review, I figured I would go with something I know best: those lean, green, fighting machines the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Released in May of 2016, this 3-D action beat em’ up from Activision received mixed reviews from critics and players alike. Many critics felt the game lacked effort from its developers and fans were frustrated by the lack of couch co-op.

“While there’s a moderately entertaining co-op experience underneath the lazy level design, short game length, bland missions, occasional bugs, and minor kinks in the combat system, the quality and value most certainly aren’t in line with what we expect from a $50 game,” Pure Xbox stated in its review of the game.

However, some fans felt otherwise. “If you love the Ninja turtles theme and played past ninja turtles games, you will understand this game,”  Kenneth H. Gorles III stated in his Amazon review of the game. “It still has that old-school feeling mixed with comic and new turtle flair. You use every button on the controller and directional pad trying to remember what combos and moves to use against the bad guys. Fun and challenging.”

As a die-hard Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan, I really enjoy playing this game. I don’t have enough friends to truly experience the 4-player online co-op, but the AI is customizable enough and smart enough to keep things entertaining.

The levels are set up like big multiplayer arenas. When you first start the game, April O’Neil provides a little bit of context for the location and then you are basically free to roam about the area and do as you please. As players traverse the level, O’Neil will buzz in from time to time with information pertaining to some event going on.

Some of these missions are as simple as defeating a group of enemies, while others require the turtles to roll a big bag of money from one point to another while avoiding traps and enemies along the path. If the mission conditions are not met for some reason, a new mission objective will cycle. After completing a few missions, which are often repetitive between levels, the player is directed to the boss battle location.

I really appreciated the boss selection in this game. In addition to the usual staples of Shredder, Bebop, Rocksteady, and Krang, the game also offers some comic book villains such as Armaggon, a mutant great white shark, and Wingnut, a mutant bat.

While most of the mission objectives can be completed quickly, the boss battles truly test the player’s abilities. First, the bosses have a huge health bar, which makes sense when you consider the fact that all four turtles are simultaneously going all-out against them with special abilities.

Also, the bosses have attacks that typically do massive damage to anyone within the attacking radius. This means that holding back and helping revive fallen turtles is often the best plan of attack. When the turtles fall, they have a 30-second revive period. While the other turtles can fall as often as possible (and often do) the player MUST keep at least one turtle active at any given time. If all the turtles fall at once, the stage or boss battle must be repeated.

Some bosses are much harder to defeat than others and I don’t think I made it through any of them on my first try. However, now that I’ve owned the game for a while and have upgraded some of my turtles’ abilities and load outs, it has become much more manageable.

The graphics in this game are beautiful. I love the animation style of the turtles and all of their enemies. Cutscenes at the beginning of each level make it feel a lot like an episode of the cartoon. The voice work isn’t too bad, although it can get somewhat annoying over time as the turtles seem to always have something to say while they battle.

If you’re a fan of the TMNT, this game would make a great addition to your collection. It currently costs about $20 new and around $10 used on Amazon.

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