Reviewed: December 8, 2005
Released: November 1, 2005
Introductions are unnecessary here, when you combine four artistic masters with four common pet turtles, you obviously get ninja masters who spend their time eating pizza and yelling ďCowabunga dude!Ē Oh, wait, thatís not right, is it?
Well, anyway, you all know the fearsome foursome, youíve seen their movies, watched their new cartoon, played their games, etc, etc. Sequels to the toxic turtle franchise are hardly surprising.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Mutant Nightmare allows four players to don the mantles of the turtles in co-op play. Not only that, but you can build the turtles as you play, collecting crystals to spend on stat increases and new attack combos. A four player fighter with RPG elements sounds like a good idea, I mean it worked for Gauntlet, but unfortunately here it works out to be slightly more fun than getting attacked by a monkey flinging flaming feces.
I cannot tolerate a game with a bad camera. Admittedly, any game that is going to have you cooperate with up to three other people, unless itís an FPS (or does some fancy split screening) is going to have to make some sacrifices. However, this isnít the first title that has allowed four players on one screen, so youíd think they would have figured out something by now.
Mutant Nightmare has, unfortunately, learned no lessons from its predecessors, and continues with the use of a fairly static overhead camera leaving, as always, much to be desired.
Static camera angles are better than ones that actively work against you, but there is more to complain against here than simple bad camera positioning. Player control is little better than a button masher and with the amount of combat that you go through just in the opening few levels it quickly gets old: beat on random group of flunkies until they die so the next group spawns, wash, rinse, repeat.
While this is no major sin, since it is more the fun of playing with your friends than the fun of the game that makes this title attractive, the problem surfaces when your friends all have to go home and you want to play a little more on your own. When you attempt to play this game solo, you get three idiot AIís to ďassistĒ you and just as many enemies as with four actual people at the controls.
If that werenít bad enough the difficulty in this game is completely skewed. The first ďtutorialĒ stage is no larger than a single screen where you have to beat a few waves of enemies and you are done.
Proceed to stage two which is at least three zones, each about three times the size of the first stage, if not larger. Were it just size that might be a good thing, but there are very few health pick-ups and nearly endless enemies.
To make matters worse, there are no checkpoints in these levels either. If you die you have to start all over from the beginning, with all the tedious, button bashing combat just to get back to where you were to die again.
Ordinarily Iím as up for a challenge as the next gamer, but firstly this is a title for kids in the 5-12 set, and Iím sure going from no challenge to impossible is not the best way to win them over. Second, part of what makes an effective game is a progression of difficulty, if you make things too difficult before you have gotten the player into the story and involved with what is going on what incentive does he/she have to continue?
What I will say is that there could be plenty of fun in the game, if you can stand the repetition. Also, after you clear the first chapter you can unlock Turtles in Time, which was the first four-player Turtles game, and probably the first good Turtles game to be released.
Iím all for pseudo cel shading a game, but let me see the graphics rather than making the camera sit at roof height while all the action is going on at street level. Ok, so Iíve already ranted about the camera, but the point is Mutant Nightmare takes what could make a good cartoon tie-in game better and instead uses it to cut corners.
The character models are 3D, but not very detailed. The textures are nearly non existent, which you can get away with because it is a game based on a cartoon, but Iíd rather see something that looks more like a 3D version of the cartoon under my control than something thrown together in MS Paint and animated.
The animation is pretty fluid, but again you are at the eagle eye viewpoint, so they are also simple. Also, as with the gameplay, the enemies are repetitive; you beat on the same guys with maybe a few different colors, or a gun instead of their fists, and attacks all look pretty much the same. There are effects that go along with special attacks, but again they are simple and pretty low budget. Youíve seen all of this before, just not with Turtles and Triceratons.
The cutscenes are at least decent, but thatís because they are video clips from the TV series. This, on the one hand, is a nice touch because it gives you more of a feel of taking part in the events in the cartoon, but on the other itís just another way to get out of putting any actual work into the game. Why actually come up with a unique story and make cinematics telling it when you can use ready made plots which can be told through imported video?
As is typical of American cartoons the voice acting in this game is abysmal. The rest of the sound is little better. You almost want to see little ďbiffĒ and ďbamĒ sound effect bubbles rather than actually hear what theyíve put into the game. On the plus side they did include the full opening to the cartoon, but, unless youíre five years old that really isnít going to interest you.
The other music in the game is low key and thankfully so, because if it was more prominent you would just mute the TV. Effects are little better, in fact the whole game suffers from what Corporate Entertainment thinks sells to little kids: simple, stupid, and xtreme (in other words cheap and flashy and while I may like that in the women I date, it does not make a good game).
Konami is at least conscious of the fact that this isnít an A list title and has priced the game at a measly $29.99, so this is at least a cheap buy. If you have four friends who are all willing to be kids again, or four kids who need to be entertained and like Turtles then this game isnít a waste of money. There are better options, but hey, no blood, and no sex so youíre safe on those counts.
There are three episodes and over 60 missions, so if you can stand the cut-rate aspects of this title you can get your money out of the game. Just donít be surprised if after a half hour your little nieces and nephews or whoever are off playing something else.
I grew up with the Ninja Turtles so thereís a little kid somewhere who deep down wants to love this title; which is why itís sad to have to play this game. The only thing that would really make it worthwhile to me is playing through far enough to unlock Turtles in Time and then playing that. Itís sad when a game made ten years ago can out-perform one made today.