While the latest live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film is drawing hate from fans for straying from the original concept, Nickelodeon's movie-based mobile game succeeds by sticking with what's worked so well in the past.
The most beloved TMNT video game of all time was a brawler. The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game ate much of my time and money in the late '80s, while later games attempting to present more of a sprawling adventure fell flat.
The new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game is a beat-em up, though it's not your traditional multiplayer arcade affair. Without heavy use of virtual buttons, that wouldn't work today. A different sort of control is required. How does one build a game that pays tribute to old school brawler games, while integrating a modern, touch-based control scheme?
You hire the guys that've already done it, that's how.
Nickelodeon tapped The Game Bakers, creators of Combo Crew, an excellent stroke-controlled love story to old school beat 'em ups, and had them make the same game they already had, only with ninja turtles in it.
Swipe in different directions to attack, tap the screen to block incoming attacks, and rack up combos until your special attack gauge fills. Only in the case the special attack gauge has three levels, each representing one of your turtle brothers, and tapping it unleashes a Turtle Power co-op attack.
There's much more to the game than simply aping a past success, of course. Completing levels unlocks new wacky weapons to purchase, stat boosting lessons and new ninja combos. Players can pick their favorite turtle and develop him completely, or spread the love to Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo as well.
Instead of a tower of enemies to battle through, there's a survival mode backing up the game's expansive story mode, itself filled with Foot Soldiers and punks and mutants galore. It's these differences that makes this a decidedly Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game.
It's the decision to take an existing successful game and layer the rest on top of it are what makes it an excellent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game.
I wish it could be a bit less in-app purchase-y, especially for a $3.99 game. I kind of wish there was a setting to make the enemies later in the game not block so much. And sure, I wish my favorite turtle didn't look like he's poorly cosplaying Sam Fisher of Splinter Cell fame (hrm, Splinter), but on the whole I'm pleased.
More than that, this game may have made me more inclined to go see the movie. Truly it is the miracle worker.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
- Genre: Brawler
- Developer: The Game Bakers
- Platform: Android, iOS
- Price: $3.99