TMNT: Turtles in Time loses much of its original charm in the transition to Xbox LIVE Arcade in the form of Re-Shelled. The game can still be quite fun, especially in a multiplayer setting, however lacklustre music, bland graphics and noticeable changes to the gameplay detract from the experience quite a bit.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles license is one of the most prolific in video games and the SNES version of the 1991 beat-em-up Turtles in Time is arguably the best and most loved of the almost 20 games released starring everyone’s favourite pizza-loving reptiles over the last 20 years or so. Read More…
Rather than work with Konami - who made both the arcade and console versions of many early TMNT games - to release a port of either the arcade or SNES version of Turtles in Time the way they did with TMNT Arcade 1989, current TMNT license holder Ubisoft chose to remake the game from the ground up.
The premise of TMNT: Turtles in Time sees our titular heroes watching a news broadcast starring April O’Neil during which the evil brain in a giant robot body, Krang hijacks the Statue of Liberty and Shredder taunts the Turtles into chasing him. After a fighting though few stages in the present (1991), Shredder traps the Turtles in a time warp. In order to get home, Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello must defeat the evil Foot Clan and their leader through eight stages in both the distant past and the future.
Those that are familiar with either original version of TMNT: Turtles in Time will likely have their nostalgia soured when playing Re-Shelled. Numerous changes have been made to not only the graphical presentation, but the core gameplay as well. In addition, the music has been completely rewritten and suffers greatly.
Ubisoft stayed faithful to the original arcade level design, however everything in the game is now fully-rendered in 3D instead of using classic 2D sprites. Turtles in Time Re-Shelled looks decent enough, though ironically transitioning the game to 3D made it feel flat. Traps and interactive objects that were once highlighted now blend into the background because of a subdues colour pallete, which can be frustrating at times.
The character models have also been updated with a more modern look in line with recent TMNT movies and cartoons, which in most cases works well. I thought the Shredder model was particularly good. The game engine does feature some nice lighting effects and it runs at a solid 30 frames per second, but sadly a once vibrant-looking game based on a colourful and widely-popular cartoon has lost much of its lustre and now looks bland and soulless by comparison because of its darker modernization.
All of the voice samples from the original arcade game have been re-recorded with the current TMNT voice cast and while it does not play towards nostalgia, this change works well enough. The music, however is a huge letdown and is awful save a track or two. The developers chose to completely rewrite the soundtrack rather than license Konami’s original songs. While all the tracks kind of sound like the early 90’s “chip tune metal” TMNT fans are accustomed to, they are rendered using a general MIDI sound bank and this again creates a soulless, empty feeling.
The biggest changes have been made to the core gameplay. While the original game saw characters able to move freely around the screen, but only able to attack on a 2D horizontal plane, TMNT: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled allows players to attack in eight directions. This breaks the game a bit because most enemies still simply attack on a horizontal 2D plane. Other changes include special attacks no longer costing a player life, changes to the way jump attacks are performed and a distinct lack of “oomph“ when pummelling bad guys.
While most, if not all of the changes were for the worse, the game itself is still button-mashing fun and is a decent beat-em-up. It takes about an hour to run through TMNT: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled solo on Normal difficulty, slightly less when playing with up to three others locally or over Xbox LIVE. Stages are unlocked for Quickplay as you progress through the Story Mode, allowing you to easily attempt some stage-specific achievements. There is also a Survival Mode that gives players only one life to conquer the game.
At 800 Microsoft Points, TMNT: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled represents a decent value, but I would argue that Turtles fans looking for a nostalgia fix would be better off spending 400 Microsoft Points on TMNT Arcade 1989 if they haven’t played it yet. By over-modernizing Turtles in Time, Ubisoft stripped the game of what made it and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise so popular in the first place; personality.
+ Fun Multiplayer
+ A Solid Beat-em-Up
- Modernization Strips Away Personality
- Bad Music
- Core Gameplay Changes Soften Challenge
Game Forward Score: 2/5
Brian J. Papineau > Game Forward
TMNT: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled (XBLA) Quick Facts:
Developer: Ubisoft Shanghai
Release Date: August 5, 2009
Price: 800 Microsoft Points
ESRB Rating: E10 (Everyone 10+)