In the interests of full-disclosure: The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time was a huge staple of my childhood, and I have fond memories of it even today. So as one might expect, I was fairly excited when I fired up the full 3D remake, Turtles in Time Re-Shelled. A slick new presentation, co-op support for four players instead of just two, and all the good old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action just as I remembered it!
It started out just fine: “Big Apple, 3 AM” evoking fond memories of days gone by, the level design being true to the original (hey, there’s the wrecking ball trap! The guy with the laser eyes!) and when I reached the boss of the level, his attacks and patterns were exactly like I remembered. It was a faithful reproduction, as far as I could tell.
So… why wasn’t it fun?
The sad truth of the matter is that games have evolved past the original design of Turtles in Time: Walk down a hallway, get jumped by a bunch of guys, mash a single attack button until they’re dead. You have a “special attack,” too, but that’s really just a slightly stronger single strike that knocks the enemy down. Those are the only moves you get through the entire game, and though you’ll run into different types of Foot Clan soldiers with different weaponry, they’re all defeated in the exact same way.
In fact, the game actually suffers from the shift into 3D. In the SNES game, you were either attacking in front of you, or attacking behind you, and there was a lot more leeway on whether or not your attacks connected. Now, with the ability to attack in any direction you please, you theoretically have a lot more control – but it’s a lot harder to hit the enemy.
So, Turtles in TimeRe-Shelled doesn’t hold up well as a modern game… but surely it’ll fly on the nostalgia factor, right? While it’s true that most of the levels are replicated almost exactly, and they’ve kept all the old lines, there are some glaring omissions. An entire level – the Technodrome – is cut, as are two boss fights (Rat-King and Bebop & Rocksteady). Most glaring of all, perhaps, is that the once-innovative final boss fight against Shredder, fought from his point of view – and defeated by literally throwing his minions into the screen – is now replaced by a standard bash-him-up/dodge/repeat like all the others.
Multiplayer might be fun for a little while, with the ability to bring all four turtles together for co-op, but it’s easy to lose track of which hero-in-a-half-shell you’re controlling. There’s one glaring problem with playing it online, though – the game won’t let you progress unless all the turtles on-screen are moving forward together, and if there’s a way to kick people from a game, I couldn’t find it (Even as the host). So if someone goes AFK or just decides to be a dick and just stands still at the beginning of a level refusing to move, everyone else is screwed over.
At least in real life, you can punch them when they do that.
Bottom Line: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled is repetitive, feels kind of bland (despite the heavily stylized presentation) and reminds us why the beat-em-up isn’t all too common these days. It’s worth a few nostalgia points, and the Ninja Turtles are still awesome, but it loses a bit in the transition from SNES 2D to modern 3D. It’s just never very engaging, and that’s a disappointment.
Recommendation: If you really love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it’s your decision whether or not $10 is worth two or so hours of nostalgia. Otherwise, give this one a pass.
John Funk would kill a man for a remake of the X-Men Arcade Game.