Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows Review

Should it have stayed in the sewers?

Developer: Red Fly Studios    Publisher: Activision   Systems: Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA and reviewed on), PSN, PC
Rated: T for Teen (Violence)   Release Date: August 28, 2013   MSRP: $15.00

by Christopher Medrano

It is kind of hard for me to not be biased when It comes to a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle(TMNT for short) game because I have been a fan of the franchise for as long as I can remember;  since I was a kid I have collected the toys, watched all the TV shows, movies, the concert special, and even the infamous Christmas special. So anyone can imagine my excitement TMNT: Out of the Shadows was released onto the Xbox Live Marketplace. Immediately, the game pays homage to both its fans and source material; in the start menu the group is posing like they were in the first TMNT comic while the ‘Turtle Power’ song played in the background. Initially, the design of the turtles felt weird to me because of the “realistic” approach but the design grew on me.  The colored headbands shining were a cool touch too.

The very first comic cover page

The very first comic cover page

TMNTStartScreen

The starting screen for
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
(c) Activision

The story for Out of the Shadows is also just as weird as the design concept because of the semi-realistic approach while being based off of the new Nickelodeon TV series. Because of the choice of design, the characters look older and their cartoon persona clashes with their design. It might have been better if they would have taken more creative liberty with the story and characters, especially since another game based on the cartoon comes out in October. These were just a few problems I had that did not keep me from enjoying the game.

The story is a basic set up; the Ninja Turtles are out to stop Shredder enacting another of his nefarious plots. Getting there requires beating up his Foot Clan, the Purple Dragons, and the new alien Krangs. April does need to be rescued at some point in the game, but the level(s) with her in them show she can fight. I had a lot of fun fighting the old enemies again like the foot, and even the even the annoying Mousers (with Baxter Stockman). The game did bring a few different types of foot ninja, and even a new human-sized mouser called a Manser, but did not really capitalize on other enemies introduced in the cartoon show like Dogpund, Fishface or Spider Bites.

Somehow this games look and story...

Somehow this games look and story…

Ties into this story and artwork (c) Nickelodeon

Ties into this story and artwork (c) Nickelodeon

Another issue I had with the game was how long the campaign felt; the story is comprised of four chapters and takes 3-4 hours to complete. When you are done with the campaign, the game offers more extra content to explore in the Turtles headquarters. In Donnie’s workshop, you can unlock new gadgets for the crew; iron fists for Raphael, a blade staff for Leonardo, gravity gun for Donatello and Kusarigama for Michaelangelo. Each weapon looks like they could be fun…if you know how to use them; Raphael’s iron fists were the only ones I could get some time with. While playing the campaign or Classic Arcade mode you level up and earn points you can apply to the any of the turtles’ tree branches to unlock new abilities, combos or upgrade their stats. Dojo allows players to practice their new combos and abilities on robot dummies but comes with several problems; the button combo does not show on the bottom screen like usual and the robot dummies might not always be where they need to be. There is concept art hidden around the levels in the campaign, but you have to play through it a second time in order to get them. When you do get them, they are hung on the fridge in the HQ.

For an additional challenge you can play in “True Ninja” mode; it takes away both help and classic mode while putting the game in black and white. If you do get bored playing the campaign, there is the aforementioned Classic Arcade mode. In classic side-scrolling action, you get to fight waves of enemies across the campaign levels in a 2.5 D space. Classic Arcade mode provides the same amount of fun as the campaign, and gives the game some replayability. Finally, the game gives plenty of fan service through easter eggs scattered in self-aware humor like the reference to the obscure fifth, female turtle Venus De Milo. It is a game rife with the humor and personality of the Ninja Turtles, but the gameplay feels a little underdeveloped.

Combat comes with its standard issues like camera issues, occasionally buggy responses and delayed counter reactions. Once you learn the games timing and get the hang of it, the fighting can be a lot of fun. The turtles are unique in their play styles; Raphael has low health but a lot of power, and strong grappling moves. The team can come together to pull of a powerful finishing move like circling the enemy and smashing them with their shells.

Slam!

He’s definitely going to be sleeping tonight. (c) Activision

There are some major bugs in the game that can ruin the experience; the big one having enemies not spawn and forcing you to restart the level. Also, the camera issues get to a point where you might be looking at a wall in the middle of a heavy battle, and loading times can be really long. For the price of $15 dollars, the major issues make the game feel not worth it. If anything, the game feels like it should be $10.

This is a game mainly for Ninja Turtle fans and might not be the best way for newcomers to jump into the franchise. Also the game is a lot more fun with friends to play, and can be enjoyed alone but might leave you bored towards the end. I did have a great time playing the game and enjoyed the epicness of the Ninja Turtles, but the classic games are a better experience. I have heard people call this game horrible because of its glitches and that is hardly a reason to say a game is bad; many great games this console generation have come with their fair share of game-freezing glitches (like the most recent Saints Row IV). To put this game down in the same tier with the recent garbage (sorry, “game”) Ride to Hell: Retribution makes no sense at all. Overall, the game is worth checking out and playing with a group of friends and has enough life and easter eggs for the fans. If not maybe wait until the price goes down a little and while you wait play the classic games if you still have them. Thanks for reading OLIVE JUICE!!

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