Some of our older readers may remember Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time on the Super Nintendo or the co-op version in the arcade. Now Konami has had Ubisoft remake the classic, adding the subtitle “Re-shelled” along with giving the visuals an HD overhaul and adding Xbox Live support.
In case you haven’t played the original, the story wrapping the action together goes like this: Krang and Shredder have stolen the statue of liberty and it’s up to you - as one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - to retrieve it and “kick some shell”. Said story is nonsensical at best, and the reason your turtle is being dragged through time remains a mystery.
However, to put this mess into perspective: the franchise is about a group of mutant turtles who have been trained into ninjas by a mutant humanoid rat (Splinter), and are defending the world against a guy (Shredder) with a grudge against said rat master. This guy, in turn, is led by a brain from another dimension called Krang. Taking this into account, you can see how having a story that makes sense is a small problem.
From here you pick one of the four half-shelled heroes and embark on the mission, either alone, or with up to four others over Xbox Live or on the same console. The levels are straight forward (literally). You run – or in a couple of levels, ride - forward, taking out Shedder’s minions (most predominately foot soldiers) in waves of about ten enemies and fight a boss at the end.
Unfortunately Turtles in Time Re-shelled is built around the multiplayer-friendly arcade version, so the controls are simple. You can jump, use basic attacks, and perform special moves. As a result combat revolves around mashing X, and using Y occasionally to pull off special moves, making the single player mode repetitive due to the sheer amount of opponents. Playing with others cuts the number of enemies you have to defeat, making it more enjoyable.
In addition to Xbox Live play, there are also several difficulty options: the easiest mode gives you nine lives, while the hardest (hardcore) limits you to two, so players who’ve mastered the arcade version years ago can set themselves up with a tougher challenge.
Each level has a different style based on their respective era. However, while you might expect having a variety of eras would change the enemies, you still fight the same old foot soldiers, no matter where you are in history – even in prehistoric times where you might like to brawl with dinosaurs.
Ubisoft has taken two steps forward with the HD polygonal visuals, but most other aspects seem to have been left to age badly. The gameplay and AI are severally lacking: if you are grabbed by a foot soldier, leaving you open to attack, none of the other foot solders will take advantage – what do they want, an invitation?
The last thing to touch on, while it isn’t a gripe, is the achievements. While Turtles in Time Re-shelled has the usual ‘get through a level without grabbing any power-ups’ achievements, it also has some stranger ideas of what an achievement can be - ones that encourage you to get zapped or crushed by a trap.
Overall it seems that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Re-shelled has made the best of a game that hasn't aged well. Check this out only if you're desperate for some multiplayer gameplay.