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Nintendo GBA Review: TMNT

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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.

Thankfully, there’s more than enough action to go around. Backgrounds are littered with destructible objects, and small secrets scattered throughout are wildly fun. Also, even though the lead characters have their trademark weapons in tow, you can still pick up dropped enemy weapons, adding another boost to this titles variety.

This is the type of game that was developed by a crew who loved their source material, and had fond memories of the crowded beat-em-up genre back in the early ‘90s. TMNT is a rare surprise for Game Boy Advance which is rarely anything else anymore than marketing material for a variety of cheaply constructed licensed junk. Kudos to the team for this fine and guaranteed to be overlooked gem.

TMNT is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Cartoon Violence. This game can also be found on: GameCube, Nintendo DS, PC, PS2, PS3, Wii, and Xbox 360.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.