Review by xenodolf
I can finally throw Battle Nexus into the trash..
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade title remained an inaccessible remnant of my time spent gaming in the early 90's up until the most recent years. It would eventually surface in the form of an edited port tucked away into the unsavory Battle Nexus title that Konami had the nerve to release. So, I was left with the choice of playing that mangled product or the earnest-but-graphically-impaired NES version. When news of a pure arcade port to the Xbox 360 marketplace arrived - I immediately purchased it and several months later came onto Gamefaqs where I now write the review.
It's the TMNT, dude - and the game does a pretty good job conveying the feeling of the old cartoon for the plot of this beat 'em up. There are a few nice touches - like having the highest scoring turtle receive a smooch from April, and the villains spouting out insults as they prepare to roll in swingin'.
There's a lot of action on-screen and the game functions pretty smoothly with frame-rates despite half-a-dozen Foot Soldiers flailing about. The background environments aren't anything to scoff at and feature several landmarks from the cartoon series that fans will instantly recognize. Being that the game is almost 20 years old - I can be lenient with some pixelation in the sprites. However - there are several cutscenes where the turtles or some other character get real close to the screen and it looks pretty blocky and fuzzy. The worst issue I have in the area of graphics, however, wasn't even present in the original release of the game. For whatever lame marketing reason - the new turtles from Ubisoft's TMNT game have been plastered around the screen in an awful sort of picture-frame edging. Why wouldn't we have the artwork from the sides of the arcade cab instead, or even just the show's logo? This infringement cost the game a solid point in this area of the review.
The music featured some themes from the show remixed and reworked into some nice little songs. The sound effects for the battles work out pretty well, as do the voice clips issued by various good and bad guys. I honestly cannot tell if they used voices from all four turtle actors since they all sound very similar on here.
Each turtle has a different array of special moves and speed/strength to differentiate them from one another (the bandannas help, too). The controls work pretty well most of the time - although I tend to feel a bit helpless against the cheap spamming of Shredder and the (virtual) coin-sucking barrage of enemies that is the highway level.
You'll need quick reflexes for this brawler - with a constant stream of enemies to deal with and up to three other players vying for the points and pizza health items. While the single-player mode is fun and all - the unlimited continues and lack of partners won't fill the void of chaos you are likely seeking. I much prefer playing in online co-op, although it isn't a flawless experience in itself. More players means more enemies - and with the amount of action going on your hands will be getting sore halfway through the game. Speaking of overwhelming fray - the highway level is alongside the Moleman stage in Undercover Cops as an obvious ploy on the developers to devour your life (and virtual money). You will be hearing "shell shock" every 20 seconds unless you are very skilled at staying away from the volleys of explosions and bullets or using glitches to bypass enemies. I don't mind a challenge, but this was simply a route to have kids begging mom or dad for another $3.00 in quarters just to beat the stage. An extremely annoying thing is if anyone on your team quits out, the game is over. Instead of allowing a new person to join the party or simply keep that slot empty - its back to the main title. I'm also a bit disappointed in some lame boss choices (Rock Soldiers? General Traag? And they basically share the same sprite!). Although I've been laying on a lot of negativity onto this game's mechanics, it is still an above-average beat 'em up and being a fan of the source material helps. I only wish it featured the same polish Konami applied to The Simpsons and X-Men.
Replay value 5/10
There is only one ending, and although there are four characters to choose from - you won't find the level of depth featured in characters in games like The King of Dragons. The achievements aren't exactly helping people come back to the game, either. Some are easy to get, but there are a few that are teeth-grinding difficult to unlock or apparently glitched (Turtle Soup). The co-op is a nice feature, but only a few die-hard fans are playing this game right now so you'll have to search forums to find people to join your party.
I am thankful that Konami and Microsoft came together to give everyone a chance to play this game again. Most TMNT fans are going to buy this title despite its flaws and aging - and I don't regret the time or money I invested again. Newcomers, be wary, though - while this game is leagues better than any recent TMNT game - it may not satisfy your needs in the way other titles on the Marketplace can.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: 1989 Classic Arcade (US, 03/14/07)
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