Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was one of my favourite shows growing up in the 80â€™s. Enter Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (TMNT: OOTS), a 3D beat â€˜em up based on the 2012 Nickelodeon reboot. In this setting, the Foot Clan are aliens, where as originally only Crang (their leader) came from another dimension - X. The series introduces a new enemy alongside the Turtlesâ€™ old foes, called the Purple Dragons - a gang at war with both the Turtles and the Foot Clan.
The story mode begins with long time Turtle companion and reporter April O'Neil making her way through an abandoned building with lasers shooting through the walls. Shortly thereafter she gets abducted. The story then backtracks to earlier that day when April and the turtles (Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Donatello) were discussing Donatello putting a tracking device inside her boot â€“ when she points out a robbery in progress. The game is full of cameos by familiar characters from the 80â€™s series, such as mad scientist Baxter Stockman (he used to be a white guy turned mutant fly, but is now African-American), and the Shredder.
The level design ranges dramatically from simple to buggy or unnecessarily, pointlessly hard. In good parts, areas where you just have to jump are highlighted, making them clear and easy to navigate. Unfortunately, you almost never know where to go next; itâ€™s especially confusing in the sewers and subways - and being a Ninja Turtles game, you spend a lot of time in the sewers. Additionally, there are points throughout where you have to play a â€˜hackingâ€™ mini-game. Although itâ€™s just a matter of connecting the circuits, it is on a timer that runs out way too fast. Furthermore, the controls for said hacking feel awkward. Most annoyingly, the levels also feature numerous glitches that have you start in one place and then teleport back to another â€“ in some cases even falling off the map entirely.
TMNT: OOTSâ€™ troubles donâ€™t end there, unfortunately. Although the voices suit the turtles, the endless banter they throw out quickly becomes repetitive. Turning the dialogue off doesnâ€™t help, as then you miss whatâ€™s being said in the cut-scenes.
Between levels you head back to Turtle HQ: the sewer lair. From there you can select a mission, upgrade your weapons, learn new moves, or train with the Turtlesâ€™ sensei, Splinter. The best part of the lair is the arcade machine; on here you can play a side scrolling beat â€˜em up - although, you have to finish the main game to unlock the levels, which is a problem if you get stuck.
The visuals are a mixed bag with cut-scenes consisting of comic style graphics, while in-game visuals go for a gritty realistic look. Although the in-game style stays true to the reboot, it makes the turtles look rather creepy; while the comic art looks like the slightly older cartoon. Thereâ€™s also a lot of pop-in and it really takes you out of the moment. Moreover, the levels are very dark, so you may need to turn the brightness up on your television.
On the gameplay front, although enjoyable at first, the combat gets repetitive since enemies attack in groups. You can upgrade your stats, and level up all four Turtles with new combos to make these fights easier. Apart from that, however, itâ€™s a straight up hack â€˜nâ€™ slash affair. Switching between Turtles is smooth, and you can revive them if they fall in battle â€“ which will happen often unless you gang up on opponents as the AI can barely hold its own without your help. It gets worse when you have to fight through Baxter Stockmanâ€™s monitor with a scan line overlay - itâ€™s rather distracting.
Overall, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of The Shadows is patchy. It suffers from bugs that see you teleporting from one place to another, graphical glitches, unfortunate design decisions, and poor level design. On the upside the arcade game is so good it should have been its own game.