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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Game Boy Advance) artwork

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Game Boy Advance) review

"If you grew up during the 1990's then chances are you were exposed to the Ninja Turtle phenomenon in one form or another. Originally debuting in 1984 as a series of black & white comics by indie creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles quickly grew in popularity culminating with the 1990 release of their first, self-titled theatrical movie. At about the same time Konami of Japan were working on an arcade based, 4 player Ninja Turtle inspired brawler that was ultim..."

If you grew up during the 1990's then chances are you were exposed to the Ninja Turtle phenomenon in one form or another. Originally debuting in 1984 as a series of black & white comics by indie creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles quickly grew in popularity culminating with the 1990 release of their first, self-titled theatrical movie. At about the same time Konami of Japan were working on an arcade based, 4 player Ninja Turtle inspired brawler that was ultimately destined for greatness. Even though that game is still fondly remembered today, the Turtles were eventually forgotten as children everywhere moved onto the next big thing. The world turned and the seasons passed, and now 13 years later with a new animated series on TV and the merchandising machine starting to wind up again, Konami are back once more with a ''shell'' of a good brawler!

Anyone familiar with the storylines seen in the cartoon series will know that they can sometimes be as painful as having your frontal lobe scooped out with a none too hygienic spoon. Sadly the same can be said about this game's storyline as reading the text found in the cut scenes is nothing short of draining. Someone take my brain.. awa.y.... dudes!!! who..a... *coughs* Thank God then that the brain drain can be skipped with a quick stab of the start button! Unless you're a diehard Turtles fan who needs to digest everything the series has to offer, I'd recommend skipping the overly mundane story. It adds nothing to the game other than an extra 5 minutes spent starring at the Gameboy...

Forgoing the pseudo-3d presentation of it's arcade older brother, the action found in the GBA release takes place on a flat 2d plane. Some stages scroll from right to left, some stages scroll from bottom to top, but through it all the only constant is the player's need to beat on all the bad guys encountered. The move set is limited, but then again the same could be said for almost every other side-scrolling 2d brawler. One button attacks, the other button jumps, and pressing them both at the same time unleashes a super move that makes the bad people go away. The fact that it feels very similar to the original Final Fight though says a lot for the general good vibes of this game.

Each of the 4 turtles requires a different playing style that helps to add a little more variety to the beat downs. Not only are their weapons and fighting styles different, but they each have different fundamental abilities and skills. Raphael has a double jump, Donatello has a longer leap, and so on. The design of each of the turtle specific stages takes full advantage of the particular character's special ability, thus forcing the player to actually learn the intricacies of the game. It's a great idea that works well in both concept and execution!

Even still, Konami have seen fit to spice things up a little and despite their good intentions, have only ended up diluting what was otherwise a perfectly good brawler. The 2nd act of each stage presents the player with a poorly implemented vehicle based challenge. Whether it's a motorbike, a skateboard or a hang glider, the effect is always the same... total and utter tedium. The vehicles are always either too fast or too slow, while the shooting stages seem to be overly long. Quite why these levels were added is beyond me, but thankfully they only occur once each stage! With a little perseverance the pain will be over quickly and the player can get back to the excellent fighting gameplay.

With 3 difficulty settings, players of all ages are sure to find a challenge regardless of their skill levels. The easier setting will be a walk in the park for anyone over the age of 10 while the harder difficulty levels will surely leave the more advanced players begging for mercy. I won't lie to you, there were times when hurling my Gameboy against the wall seemed like the preferable option... but through it all I always felt that my difficulties were caused by my own lack of skill, and not because of any cheap coding on the behalf of Konami. And that's how any good game should be!

The graphics are surprisingly good and showcase exactly what the Gameboy Advance is capable of. Characters are animated smoothly and their attacks look both realistic and fluid. Backgrounds are finely detailed and while not exactly memorable, they still do a good job of setting the scene for the ninja based action that follows. A little more originality in the presentation of the backgrounds would have gone a long way as I'm sure we've all fought in any number of back alleys, sewers and underground laboratories before. That being said, everything looks good and in the end thats all that really matters. It may be generic, but it's an exceptionally good looking generic...

If you're looking for some good old fashioned arcade brawling fun then you could do a lot worse than Konami's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It has it's faults, but none of them are too debilitating to the core fighting gameplay. For some of us , it will be a blast from the past. Others may just enjoy this game for it's license. What ever the reason, in a day and age where complexity and technique reign supreme, it's sometimes nice to get back to our roots, and in that regard Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles excels. It's simple yet fun arcade gameplay for the gamer on the go...

* Great old school fighting action reminiscent of Final Fight
* Nicely animated/detailed graphics
* Each turtle has a slightly different feel
* 3 difficulty settings makes the game accessible to everyone

* Mundane story
* Vehicle stages are dull

midwinter's avatar
Community review by midwinter (April 25, 2009)

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randxian posted April 25, 2009:

I remember enjoying this game and the fact that each of the four turtles does control differently. I actually remember enjoying, or at least not minding, the vehicle stages. But that's just me.

The only difficult part I remember is fighting Shredder. I remember it took me a long time to figure out the best method of fighting him. Plus I believe the ending changes slightly depending on which turtle you use, so being the obsessive compulsive maniac that I am, I had to learn how to beat him with each turtle. Being green is not easy dude!

Anyway, nice review. Gave me a pleasant trip down memory lane.
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sashanan posted April 25, 2009:

I had fun with this one, but given my laughable skill level at this kind of game, I was disappointed that playing on easy locks you out of the second half of the game. It's an old trick that I'd rather see forgotten than revived in a relatively new game.
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randxian posted April 26, 2009:

It does? I don't remember that happening. Then again, it has been years since I played this game.
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honestgamer posted April 26, 2009:

I think I recall that being the case for the Xbox version, as well. It's been awhile since I played that. When I did play through it, I did so on the normal difficulty level. There's no point playing three stages on 'Easy' and having to start over. Plus the game wasn't that difficult.

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