Hey, dudes! Remember the tubular late ’80s and radical early ’90s? Back then, we used words like "bodacious," "radical," and even "cowabunga!" What got us spouting those phrases? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, of course. This comic hit took America by storm and spread to movies, action figures, and even video games. We were introduced to the Ninja Turtles with a excruciatingly difficult NES game by Konami. It left many of us ninja-wannabes in tears, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying other Ninja Turtles products. Konami then produced an excellent Ninja Turtles arcade game, which would later be ported to the NES. This game was a four-player, side-scrolling beat-’em-up featuring everyone’s favorite abnormally large turtles: Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo. These heroes cleaned up the streets of Manhattan with katanas, bos, sais, and nunchucks, and would occasionally stop for a large pizza with anchovies at the local pizzeria. Even though this game was fairly simplistic, it was well-regarded, and it quickly became a hit among Ninja Turtles fans and reptile-fearing gamers alike. However, this wasn’t the end-all of Ninja Turtles games. Konami decided to release a third mediocre NES title, but then they dropped a bombshell on us–the excellent Turtles In Time.
Like its arcade predecessor, Turtles In Time was released in both arcades and on home consoles (the SNES in this case), and both versions managed to be spectacular. The gameplay remained quite similar to what was found in its predecessor, but this time the game moved at a brisk pace, and boasted impressive graphics saturated with neon-lighting. Turtles In Time featured large character models along with numerous enemies and objects on-screen and managed to run without a hitch. The colors and lighting effects were quite impressive, and they helped give each era of this time-spanning quest a distinct feel.
In Turtles in Time, players traveled to a variety of eras starting with modern day-New York City. After dodging wrecking balls and besting the giant-fly, Baxter atop a Big Apple skyscraper, players would then clean up the streets littered with Foot Soldiers, fire hydrants, and manholes. Then, they would hop in the sewers and ride surf boards through the toxic sludge until the appearance of the evil Shredder who halted their party and sent them to the distant past.
Our green-colored friends would then travel through prehistoric times, sail aboard a vessel of the sea, ride a train through the wild west, and ride hover boards through a futuristic city before the final confrontation. These nine levels were all quite brief, but they were a blast back in the early ’90s.
Okay. Enough about the original. How is Ubisoft’s remake of Konami’s beat-’em-up classic? I wouldn’t quite classify it as a "remake," but it’s actually better than I expected. When I first saw the 3D visuals, I feared the worst. I wasn’t sure how the 2D gameplay would translate, and I didn’t really dig the new style. However, after trying Re-Shelled, I began to warm up to it. The visuals are actually quite stylized and give off a comic book vibe. The Turtles, Foot Clan, and bosses, all look quite nice, but it’s the environments that look the most impressive. Each of Re-Shelled’s nine levels is a brilliant re-creation of what was found in the original. No major changes were made (in fact, everything from the wrecking balls, to the Giant Krang in the Big Apple are still in place), but the lighting effects definitely impress, while keeping the flavor of the original.
Not only did the visuals survive the transition to 3D, but the fluid animations did as well. During most portions of the game, the characters animate beautifully, but that isn’t all that impressive considering your characters’ limited skill-sets. Each of your characters’ moves look as they did in the original, and the original enemy animations have been left intact as well. You can also still interact with certain objects such as fire hydrants, say if you want to douse the enemy. Unfortunately, there are minor bouts of slowdown in certain areas (namely the sewers when you’re on surf boards), but generally, the game runs at a smooth clip.
Even with the fancy visuals and smooth animations, Turtles In Time: Re-Shelled isn’t without its flaws. Some of these technical issues are a result of the new 3D graphics. Unfortunately, the transition to 3D makes hitting enemies harder. Sometimes, it can be difficult to judge where flying enemies (or bosses) are positioned, and also, the hit detection seems a bit off. I feared that this would be the case, but fortunately it isn’t bad enough to ruin the game; it just takes a little bit of getting used to.
It’s also disappointing that nothing new was added. Ubisoft could have gone the extra mile and added an additional level or two, or could have created extra endings or modes to enhance Re-Shelled’s replay value, but sadly, this is a barebones port. For some gamers, that may be enough, but most people will tire of Turtles in Time after a single play-through. One hour of gameplay just isn’t a very good value for ten dollars, but at least there’s a survival mode and four levels of difficulty.
My first play-through of Turtles In Time was on Normal, and I have to say that it was a breeze. It was quite enjoyable with another player, but it was over with before I knew it. On Normal, each character has six lives, and the enemies are fairly easy, so a seasoned gamer should have little difficulty clearing the game without the use of a single continue. However, it’s nice that continues are available for those who are careless or are always last to nab a pizza.
Hard and Hardcore mode are a bit more of a challenge, and might keep veteran gamers busy for awhile. In these two modes, you get a limited amount of lives and there are no continues, so you’ll have to use strategy while fighting the game’s difficult (and cheap bosses). On certain bosses, it helps to have Donatello who has long-ranged attacks. Donatello is slower than the other characters, but he does come in handy during Re-Shelled’s brutal boss encounters. If slow characters aren’t your thing, you’ll probably want to go with Raphael who can quickly slice and dice foes with his sais. If you don’t want to compromise too much range for speed, Leonardo is a good bet. For those who want to be a powerhouse, however, it’s best to take Michelangelo.
Each of Re-Shelled’s four characters has a small skill-set, but at least their moves are easy to remember, as each character has the same button combinations. Our reptilian heroes can all jump, double jump, jump kick, dash at opponents, slash with their weapons, and can execute a special attack. Re-Shelled’s special attacks really aren’t all that special, but they’re a nice follow-up to your regular attacks.
I’ve given you a basic rundown of the gameplay, but what most Turtles or beat-’em-up fans will want to know is, "how is the online play?" I’ve played through the Story Mode three times online, and I had very little lag during each bout. Games were easy to find (as is to be expected on launch day), and I never experienced a single dropped connection. Each of my games ran just as fluidly as during single-player. I experienced a bit of slowdown during the sewer level (I’m not sure if this was due to lag), but it wasn’t detrimental to the gameplay. Besides minor slowdown issues, I occasionally played with people who quit or pilfered pizzas that they didn’t need, but most players were helpful. Thankfully, Re-Shelled forces all four players on a set path, so no one can ruin your gameplay experience unlike certain recent releases, such as Fat Princess.
So the online gameplay functions properly, but is Turtles In Time: Re-Shelled worth your money? It all depends. If you have fond memories of this game or other beat-’em-up classics, you might want to check it out. People who have moved on to deeper experiences however, would be wise to steer clear. Re-Shelled isn’t really a bad game, but it’s hard to justify spending ten dollars on a one-hour experience with little replay value even with the enhanced visuals. Games like Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 and Fat Princess are a much better value with their deep gameplay experiences, but if you miss saying "cowabunga" and have loads of Ninja Turtles paraphernalia, then it’s time to wield your weapon and turn Shredder into scrap metal, once again.
- Lag free online-mode
- It’s easy to join games
- Redone visuals ooze with personality
- Turtles In Time’s classic look has been kept intact
- Excellent lighting effects
- A fun time-spanning quest
- Only a one hour experience
- Once a person quits an online game, others can’t join
- Only nine levels with no enhancements
- No new levels were added
- Very little replay value
- Hit detection isn’t as good as in the original
- You can’t switch to the original graphics
- The music is forgettable
- The new voices are lame