"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash Up" Wii Video Game Review
September 21, 2009 by James Harvey
Taking a little deviation from the movie reviews you'll find standard here at The World's Finest DVD Report, let's take a look at a new video game starring everyone's favorite terrapins. Starring in the new highly addictive Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash Up game for the Wii, our favorite heroes in a half-shell smash it up in this break-neck beat-'em-up! After selecting a character and picking one of the modes available, the mayhem begins and, admittedly, it's incredibly addictive. During one my first run-throughs of the game, just testing out some of the different characters and levels, 90 minutes passed in a mere blink of an eye. I won a handful of victories and learned some hard-fought lessons, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Now, this game may not be perfect, which became evident as I continued playing, but I can't deny that it's pure fun.
Before I continue, I feel the need to note a couple things. First, this is my first review for a video game, so I'm sure what you're about to read isn't at all what you'll be expecting. Secondly, I may not be the biggest video game junkie around, but I know a good game when I see one, and this is undeniably a good game. And, as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan going way back, I'm pretty impressed with what I see here. It's a solid looking game that, well, feels like what a Ninja Turtles game should.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash Up is a four-player 2.5D fighting game for the Wii (and apparently the PS2, as well), along the lines of Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Soul Calibur, with players duking it out in an effort to basically knock each other out. That's essentially it, and this is done by primarily with straight up fisticuffs. To keep things interesting, the game adds the standard additional elements like combo moves, interactive environments, and "Ninja orbs" items, adding a host of unpredictable elements to the game. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash Up! features a host of different modes, including Arcade, Battle Royal, Survival, Tournament, Swap-Out, Practice, and Mission Mode, along with an online mode and mini-games. A host of unlockables and bonus content are also available.
Right from the get-go this game has two big positives going for it. First, this game absolutely wraps itself in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lore, from head to toe (save for one ming-boggling inclusion that I'll get to later), making for an enjoyable experience for long-time franchise fans. Secondly, this game it just fun. It's really, really fun. Whether you're playing some practice rounds, the arcade, or taking it online, this game is an absolute blast! Since each character has their own fighting styles, complete with unique strengths and weaknesses, there's definite re-playability right from the start, with each mode simply adding to the longevity to the title.
The controls for this game are incredibly easy to learn, thanks to both the video tutorial and the instruction manual. It'll take only a few rounds of practice, and testing out some of the other modes, to get the controls down pat. Admittedly, the controls could be a bit tighter, that goes without saying, but the final control scheme is still pretty solid. Even after playing the game over for hours and hours, long after I got the controls down, I found there were many other moves still to learn, all of which were relatively easy to pick up on. I do have to admit that, on the occasion where my character gets trapped in the corner and starts getting hammered, it can be difficult to maneuver out at times with the controls, and it usually boils down to luck. The practice mode really comes in handy here, and I implore players to take advantage of undertaking a few practice rounds before diving into each battle.
Out of all the modes available, I think fans will get a definite thrill out of the arcade mode. The arcade mode features a story co-written by Peter Laird with art by Jim Lawson, two names that longtime Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans should find very familiar. The story is pretty flimsy, coming up with slight excuses to string together the battles, but execution works well enough to make it a moot point. Arcade mode is made up of what basically amounts to a motion comic, with the voice cast of the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series, mixed with battle stages. Each battle sequence seems to comprise of a mix of random and character-specific battles, dependent on what the mode calls for. Overall, the arcade mode is enjoyable, and it doesn't take long to complete, and I've actually found it worth revisiting. The arcade mode also features some pretty fun mini-games to acquire more shells.
Moving on, thanks to some video chains releasing the game early, I even had the opportunity to try out the online mode against some actual opponents, and I managed to hold up pretty well. While I only managed to play about five or six online matches, I noticed no lag during both one-on-one battles and multi-player battles. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash Up! is definitely going to have long-term appeal thanks to the online mode, which Ubisoft seems to have executed near-perfectly.
Adding to the longevity of the game is the amount of effort required to get all the unlockables. Even after spending a good chunk of the past four days playing this game, I know there's still plenty I still need to unlock. Now, most of the unlocklables are pretty easy to get and can be snatched up easily within the first ten hours or so of playing, but some unlockables require much more work. Once again, I'll admit I'm not the best player, having been beaten many times during both the online and regular game modes, so I have no doubt I'll need to greatly improve in order to unlock all the goodies. Some unlockables require a high number of wins, but the effort is worth it. Unlockable content includes new characters and stages, along with production art from the upcoming Turtles Forever, the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, along with host of other goodies I don't want to spoil.
The graphics make even the hardest aspects of the game easier to swallow, because everything does look really, really good here. All the characters look really great here, easily making this the best looking Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game to date. However, as great as the game looks, the sound is a different matter. It's not bad by any means, but be prepared to turn the volume on your television down, as it can get really, really loud. The game can get loud even during the practice wait screen for online mode. It's not a hinderance at all, but I can definitely see why users would label this an annoyance.
To change speed for a second, I do understand some of the complaints toward this game, particularly the character roster. Not only are three Rabbid characters inexplicably included, but the original 1980s cartoon series isn't really represented here. The recent 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon gets it due here, with the majority of the voice cast returning to voice the featured characters, as does the 2007 TMNT movie. For fans of the original 1980s cartoon, there is a Technodrome-themed level available in the game to unlock along with a couple more surprises to uncover the longer one plays. Along with the leniency on the original cartoon content, I also don't understand why Ubisoft would include the Rabbid characters, characters from a completely different and unrelated video game franchise, in this game. Sure, they're worth a small chuckle, but Ubisoft definitely should have at least included Bebop and Rocksteady, or perhaps Tokka and Rahzar, or even Slash and a couple more nods to the overall Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise instead of using up three roster slots on characters from a completely different franchise.
While I understand why some fans are moving to boycott this game, and I can't really blame them, I think they're missing out. I still find that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash Up gets a lot of it right in terms of staying true to the overall TMNT lore, even with only a light nod to the 1980s series. If fans can get past that little misstep and the baffling inclusion of three Rabbid characters, then I think they'll definitely find a great game worth playing.
Overall, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash Up for the Wii is not the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle game 25 years in the making" as advertisements claim it to be, but it's still a great game that comes Highly Recommended. It's just fun and entertaining from the get-go. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans should definitely rush out to pick up this game, though skeptics and casual fans may want to rent the title before purchasing it. Ubisoft has done a very admirable job with the game, even taken into account some of the missteps listed above. The game is quick to pick up and incredibly addictive, and with a host of different modes and unlockables along with a great online mode, it is sure to keep fans playing for quite some time to come. I'm positive that if you give it a chance, like me, you'll definitely become hooked to the rip-roarin' fun of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash Up!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash Up arrives for the Wii on September 22nd, 2009, with a PS2 version set for release on September 29th, 2009.
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