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TMNT: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

For: PSP   Also on: DS, GameBoy


Product: TMNT: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles | Developer: Montreal Quebec | Developer: Overloaded | Publisher: Ubisoft | Format: PSP | Genre: Action, Fighting, Film/ TV tie- in | Players: 1-2 | Networking: wireless (adhoc) | Version: Europe
TMNT: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles PSP, thumbnail 1
In space, some say, no one can hear you scream. Not because there's not usually anyone else around – it's all to do with the lack of atmosphere.

In one of life's remarkable coincidences, no ambience and plenty of screaming is something we'll always associate Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with: the former because this is one of the most lifeless gaming experiences to have graced PSP so far, and the latter because that's what most people are likely to do when they play it.

We could, of course, terminate the review here. The next 750-odd words don't contain a miracle turnaround for the game. This isn't one of those reviews with a twist halfway through. Honestly, scroll down to the score at the bottom. This is a bad game. You should do your very best not play it.

Still, in the interest of professionalism, fairness, fans of pizza-munching amphibians, those not easily convinced, and the long (but not long enough) hours put into the game's development, we feel it necessary to carry on. It's what drove us to complete the game's 15 levels of the Story mode, after all, and why we know it took just 47 seconds to beat the final boss.

That's not so much to do with our renowned gaming prowess, incidentally, and more with the fact that TMNT features some diabolical enemy AI, with boss encounters seemingly getting easier the deeper you get into the game. In fact, the only challenging aspect during these moments is having to battle with the often awful camera.

Your opponents' offensive threat isn't a patch on the combat system, either, which has to be one of the dreariest, most infuriating we've come across.

Regardless of which member of the turtle quartet you happen to be controlling, start a combo (a generous use of terminology when this mostly consists of repeatedly pressing the same button) and you're effectively locked in that direction until the last move is performed. Forget about switching directions mid-flow as most modern combat games allow – no such luxury here – and don't even think about getting some lenience with regards to the reach of your character's hit zone.

The last point is particularly regrettable given that more often than not you'll be punching, kicking and slicing nothing more dangerous than thin air, having bypassed a brainless, mainly motionless opponent because you weren't surgically precise in your positioning when you started your attack.

Fortunately, though hair-tearingly repetitive and more prominent in certain stages, fighting isn't the game's main concern. For most of the time, TMNT has its frog legs firmly planted in platform territory. And we have to give the developer credit here, because Ubisoft Quebec really has tried something different. Which just makes it more of a shame that in practice it mostly fails as a workable solution.

Effectively, any progress requiring jumping is handled by pressing Triangle, Square or Circle from a 'launch point' (which handily shimmers on screen so you really can't miss it), depending on whether your landing point (again, more glistening) is directly ahead, to the left or to the right.

Getting the timing right, rhythm action-style, ensures one bounce links to the next with pleasing fluidity – indeed, you're rewarded with speed boosts for doing so – yet the positioning of the points is such at times that your flow is rudely and frustratingly interrupted. Factor in the difficulty of working out the correct button to press as a result of the camera changing the perspective and either making it impossible to see your landing point or which direction they correspond to, and what starts off as a novel and brave attempt to innovate a new platforming dynamic feels as flat as a toad that's tried to cross the motorway.

There are little touches that briefly (and only slightly) raise the game's appeal. Jump points requiring powering up (by holding down X – used for rope swings, sliding down angled surfaces or holding on to ledges) and letting go when ready (that is, before your demise and irritating section restart) spice things up a little.

Still more (briefly) entertaining is a game of Ninja Tag. Here the idea is to jump your way across rooftops, sewers, window ledges and the like to catch up with one of your turtle siblings within a time limit. He will then catapult you further along the level, and in doing so you gain a 'Family Bond'. This can then be used in combat; pressing Triangle brings in support from one of your brothers who descends from the sky to momentarily kick some enemy butt – not that you'll need any assistance, as we previously mentioned.

So it's ultimately a wasted effort, which is how you can categorise this entire production, sadly. Not even the ad hoc two-player option can hide the fact TMNT has presumably been rushed in order to coincide with its cinematic namesake. This is most evident in the substandard presentation, featuring cut-scenes that barely tell a story (despite following the film script) and utterly fail to capture your interest, the generic, soul-sapping soundtrack, and a game experience whose blandness and repetitiveness soon feels as daunting and depressing as the deepest, darkest reaches of space.
TMNT: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Reviewer photo
Joao Diniz Sanches | 30 March 2007
A rushed production that, regrettably yet predictably, emerges as a substandard game of a substandard film
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