Heroes in a Half Shell
I cannot recall if the games were actually any good, but some of my fondest gaming memories of generations past are linked with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. From the NES game’s underwater level with electric seaweed (yes, I think of this one fondly) to the stellar arcade-to-console-port of Turtles in Time, those pizza lovers sure know how to constitute an enjoyable game.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is taking the arcade game approach by allowing up to four players to take control of their favorite reptile in combat, but only if you hop online. As the game’s camera can be fully controllable in 3D – a sharp departure from the franchise’s largely 2D side-scrolling game origins – it is understandable that local co-op play is limited to two players. If you are playing alone or with only two players, you have the ability to jump between any free turtles to test out their specific fighting style.
As brawlers can tend to get a bit repetitive, the developers at Red Fly Studios are making sure that each of the four main characters in TMNT: Out of the Shadows plays uniquely and has distinctive sets of combos and abilities. Predictably, Donatello has great range with his bo staff, but he's also a clip slower than the rest; Leonardo is a well-rounded fighter with no obvious strengths or weaknesses; Raphael is adept at up-close combat and it really shows with his brutal techniques; and, lastly, Michelangelo is a fragile speedster – the weakest, but quickest of the group. Hopefully, the team can figure out any expected balancing issues so that there is not one turtle that players rush to select or, conversely, one that is avoided.
Basic combat is relegated to a button dedicated to using your weapon and another to a kick attack. Where Out of the Shadows gets interesting is in the use of the right control stick. Input particular directional movements and you can execute special attacks, much like the trick system used in the most recent SSX. To further the cooperative portion of the game, certain characters can team up to pull off unique, flashy, and more destructive moves. To add a sense of progression, battling through waves of enemies earns you points, and you are eventually allowed to unlock or upgrade your moves and abilities.
Fans of the franchise’s newest television incarnation (currently airing on Nickelodeon) will be surprised to see the more realistic art direction taken here. It is a slight disappointment considering the CG-animated show’s clean and eye-popping visuals, but its realism does fit the brawler aspect of the game a bit better. Despite that, though, the game is actually still based off of that cartoon, just sporting a different style. Interestingly, by also paying slight homage to the 90s live-action films, the developers of TMNT: Out of the Shadows aim to draw the interests of all Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fans, regardless of age. They certainly have this fan interested.
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