What’s better than a classic? A refurbished classic!
The team at Ubisoft have taken an old 1991 arcade original and slapped on a new paint job, creating a "re-shelled" version of Turtles In Time. Fundamentally the game is near-identical to that of the original, which for any TMNT fans is a blessing, however Ubisoft have gone the extra mile in giving Turtles In Time a complete visual makeover to prepare it for today’s standards.
The plot is simple. Shredder and Krang (the ultimate villains from the TMNT series) have taken the liberty - wait for the pun- of stealing the Statue of Liberty from New York city (or as the game calls it “The Big Apple”). Our four turtle friends - Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo - just happen to be watching the news at this particular time and witness the entire event, leading them on a quest to retrieve the statue.
Little do they know that they’re about to be time-warped through the ages, from the prehistoric times to the distant future (which was obviously hugely overrated in the 90’s as I don’t see as speeding round on hover boards in ten years time).
Unfortunately, the story is unclear throughout the game as it only gives you a brief idea of what on earth is going on during the introductory movie, which most people skip to get into the action anyway. The story remains unclear until you ultimately finish the game and witness the return of the statue. This is disappointing as you quickly forget what exactly it is that your fighting for, and Turtles In Time soon becomes some sort of aimless beat ‘em up. But it’s a very good beat ‘em up, so I will let it off just this once.
The game play is the same as that of the original - the side-scroller will ask you to pick a turtle to face off against hordes of villainous foot soldiers. You simply wipe out a handful of the ninja-like soldiers to progress through each level until you’re faced with a final boss battle, just to make that little extra push for the finish line slightly more difficult.
Your enemies have different methods of attack too and the way that they launch into action from different places is awesome to witness. For example; the foot soldiers who tried hurdling themselves onto the wild west runaway train and nearly fell off the side was great - humorous too, which also reminds you of classic TMNT style.
The boss characters are all familiar and can be found in the classic TMNT series. For example the obvious super-villain Shredder tries to take you down, as well as a few of his smaller minions. Leatherhead the croc is back, along with ’double-boss’ Tokka and Rahzar. Memories of the original (for those who played it) should be triggered by now.
Apart from the main story mode you have a couple of other options to play the game by; Survival and Quickplay. Quickplay allows you to relive unlocked levels from the story mode individually, whilst Survival challenges you (and it is a challenge) to see how far you can get without dying. A limited amount of replay ability is the result. All of these game modes are offered in local and online multiplayer co-op as well, which is a huge help particularly on the harder difficulties. A maximum of four players is supported (one for each turtle).
You get points during general play of the game which gradually build up as you kill more foes and finish more levels. These points however are lost if you run out of lives and get the dreaded ‘Game Over’ screen. It isn’t in fact game over when this happens, as you simply hit continue and carry on from the beginning of whichever level got the better of you with a fresh set of retries. Although all of your hard earned points go down the drain - literally on one level, when you find yourself in a sewer. Being a side-scrolling game, Turtles In Time is a bit limited to what you can see on-screen at any given moment. So what the Ubisoft team have done is made every single level in the game dynamically different ensuring that you don’t feel much repetition creeping in and that you don‘t get bored.
This is definitely assisted by the fact that you travel through time, thus of course every level is going to be one extreme to another. You brawl around dinosaurs and volcanic terrain in the prehistoric times, pass through the wild west on a runaway train, all the way to fighting robots on a space station in the year 2130. Variety is exceptional in this area.
The visual quality of Turtles In Time meets reasonably high standards. I like to look at it as a ‘next-gen side-scrolling game’ as the graphical design is on-par with most of the other arcade titles on today’s market. Don’t be fooled by the comic book style appearance though. There’s a lot of subtle qualities which are great visually, and if you aren’t too busy beating up every living thing in the game you will discover and admire these qualities.
The variety of enemy classes keeps the combat interesting as well as the pizza pickups for you to collect; one of which replenishes your entire health meter while the other launches you into a ten second ‘one-hit-kill’ spinning attack, great for defeating larger quantities of foe particularly if you are in a tight position.
There aren't many negative points to Turtles In Time, and the only real complaint is the lack of length. It can get frustrating at times, however it is enjoyable enough to look past that. Because of the fun that it offers, Turtles In Time is worth a go and for any old TMNT fans out there you definitely shouldn’t overlook this one.