Jeff Markiewicz On September 21, 2009 at 11:22 am

Back in 1989, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) arcade came out and was instantly loved. It was quickly ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System and in 1991, its sequel came out in the arcades. This sequel was TMNT: Turtles in Time. These two titles were classics of the arcade era and now that it has returned in form on modern consoles, new light is being shed of them. TMNT 1989 a direct port of the first game was release in 2007 on the Xbox Live Arcade and it was an instant hit amongst old fans. Now two years later we have a port of Turtles in Time with a huge graphical overhaul for both the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Can the Turtles deliver a delicious pizza pie to times in a row?

Re-shelled has the same story as the old arcade game. Shredder is back and he has stolen the Statue of Liberty. The Turtles have to gang together jumping through time to get it back. The game is a side-scrolling beat-em up action game. The game is viewed from the side and you have your choice of all the turtles. Each of them brandishing their trademark weapons and have slightly different attributes. Some are slower and stronger and some are faster and weaker but in the end it rarely discernable. They all play exactly the same. You have two attacks and a jump button. Mixing these up will provide you some simple combos but the game never reinforces them so it devolves into a button mash fest. There are no special ways to take down enemies or bosses so it starts to get tiring after a while. Especially due to the long stun states when you get hit. But this isn’t much different than the gameplay to the previous arcade hit TMNT 1989. It’s basically shallow and boring. Cooperative play helps a bit and can be a cool social experience but it doesn’t change the fundamental flaws in the gameplay.

The game has undergone a massive facelift. The 2d game is now a beautiful 3d game, at least in screenshots. Once you start watching it in motion, you notice the truth is it’s just a fancy graphic shell over the old game. Animations will repeat frequently and the new style makes the game feel slower, especially when you get stunned. Comic book style bubbles have been added for occasional hits which are neat. Essentially the graphics are like an elderly woman getting the looks of a 25 year old. Sure she’s hot but once you see her in action, her true age becomes apparent. It’s unfortunate that they chose to replicate the graphics 1:1 with the old game.

Graphics aren’t the only thing to get a substantial makeover. Nearly all the audio is new too but it comes with a price, mediocrity. The sounds before weren’t that great either but nostalgia can carry a large burden but with something new, they have to bear their own weight, which they cannot. Stage announcer, voiceovers, music, and even basic action noises have all changed. Sure they are better quality but it’s like taking out the Jurassic Park theme song upon porting it to blu-ray. It rips part of the soul out of the game and since they didn’t add anything new to add variation, it just falls flat on its head. When you’re getting choked there is no noise which is weird. Especially considering when you stub a toe or get spun around you’ll hear the same thing over and over, to the point of annoyance at times. The hits seem subdued and lackluster. The sound does its job barely, but it loses much more than it has gained.

When translating an arcade game for modern systems, it’s hard to keep the original feeling since you’re not penalized a quarter every time your lives are depleted. In cases like R-type, a lot of people will never know the depth and feeling of momentum that comes with not dying. In cases like this game though, it makes you realize the lack of depth and senseless button mashing. But old games rarely can compete on the gameplay front. We play them for nostalgic reasons, so why did Turtles in Time fall off the horse? Redoing the graphics (and most of the music/sounds) singlehandedly stripped the game of its soul while giving the impression that it was a remake and not a port. The nostalgia should’ve propped this title up but instead it now only has cooperative play to brandish as a big plus and even that gets stale. Try the demo and proceed, most will have a pass.

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