After leaving an era of classic after classic, the Ninja Turtles video game career collapsed into a mess of sloppy ideas that failed to capture any of the magic from the arcade and 16-bit titles. That trend has continued with TMNT on the home consoles, yet this little unnoticed Game Boy Advance effort changes the rules. It’s one step shy of regaining the Turtle’s full glory.
A smart mix of NES cult classic River City Ransom and the unforgettable Turtles in Time, this heavily detailed short romp is the beat-em-up gamers have deserved for years. Mechanics are strong, with an acceptable array of combos and attacks to keep the game fresh. Gorgeous sprite animation drives the game, and the enjoyable juggle system leads to heavy combos that keep a constant need to one up your previous number with something higher.
Enemies drop money through the all-too-brief seven levels of play. This can be taken into a semi-free roaming area to purchase extra lives, weapons, or increase stats. While in the shop area, there are special sections with foes waiting to be taken down and sporadic challenges from other characters with a chance to earn extra funds.
When you’re ready for the next fight, you simply head back to the easily accessible sewer dwelling and the next stage begins. Occasionally, there’s no choice as to which of the four members TMNT squad you’ll play as. It’s dependent on the story. However, when you are choosing, you’ll also pick a partner who can jump in and perform joint attacks to make the fight easier. By using the same team members, you can build up the bond between the turtles to increase stats when they’re used together in combat.
Sadly, there’s no multi-player of any kind. This brings down the intensity that made the old time favorites special, and it doesn’t feel like a Turtles title without it. In true arcade fashion though, cheap difficulty spots rear their ugly head, leading to unavoidable hit traps that can only be escaped by losing a life.