Review by clarkisdark

"Mutant Ninja Turds"

I grew up watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon and playing with the TMNT action figures. I was even jealous that my younger brother got to be Raphael for one Halloween. With this history, as well as being a marginal fan of the original TMNT games, I was very expectant going into Battle Nexus. What I found was more than just a disappointment, more than just a letdown. It was just bad.

Graphics:
Battle Nexus's story unfolds via cartoon cutscenes. Unfortunately, these aren't the cartoons from your childhood. These are the new, anime-inspired turtles, and the change is unsettling and lacking that humble style. Luckily, you don't have to watch them! The game itself is modeled with cel-shading, a continually redundant technique but fitting to this game nonetheless. It looks good enough but doesn't maintain a steady enough framerate to really appreciate any visual quality. That isn't nearly as bad as the camera, however. I thought over time, game cameras would get better. This is one of the worst cameras I've dealt with. It is confining and claustrophobic and positions itself in the most bizarre places. It's very difficult to gauge platform jumps when the camera is hanging out in the far end of the level. During boss battles, even, the camera will suddenly swing right into the arena's middle, blocking out everything. It's so bad, it's almost funny-- but not quite.

Sound:
For anyone who cares, allow me to iterate: Cartoon game heroes do not need a roster of one-liners that they shout every two minutes. It's annoying. It's stupid. The turtles often say things that don't even make sense. Why does Michelangelo always say, "Didn't your mother tell you not to play with fire?" when there is no fire? The music is all right. I'm sure I could enjoy it out of context of the game, but within, it just adds to the irritating ambience.

Gameplay:
These new turtle games are like the old turtle games-- except in 3D-- and not so fun. Playing as any of the four turtles, you fight your way through extremely narrow, uninteresting, and surprisingly short levels. Yep, that's it. Okay, so that premise alone could work... but it doesn't... and... I really don't have anything else to say.

Controls:
The fighting in this game is boring. You only have a strong attack and a weak attack to work with. The strong attack instantly knocks an enemy down while the weak attack dishes out a three-hit combo. This three-hit combo is as good as it gets, I'm afraid. Fighting is not satisfying, because it doesn't move very quick or allow crazy improvisation. Furthermore, your character quite often neglects to hit the enemy you are aiming at, shooting off in some random direction. This multi-directional combat is spontaneous and unhelpful. The turtles are also slow. I suppose that's only fitting, but they are ninjas. I would think they could slide around a little more instead of standing in place and mildly swinging their weapon. A double jump exists to aid in the platforming sections, but the wall jump is difficult to master. I spent a half hour trying to jump up a particular part, because the game wouldn't register that I was touching the wall correctly.

Frustration:
The enemies aren't very smart, but that doesn't keep them from getting the best of you. They come in overbearing flocks and have the tendency to kick you while you're down. It's flustering when somebody off-screen keeps shooting you, and you can't get to them, because they keep shooting you. It's easier to just run past a cluster of enemies since defeating them does nothing but knock your health down. You obviously can't run through a boss battle, though, and they can get really tiring. One battle has you fighting a guy who gains health every time he hits you. A round with him can last twenty minutes before you die, and his health is miraculously still full. Cheap, cheap, cheap...

Lasting Appeal:
If you play this game by yourself, it'll hit the garbage can right off the bat. What saves TMNT-- No, no, no. What makes TMNT not quite as horrible is its multiplayer support. Up to four players can join in to tackle the adventure as a team. While four players won't suddenly turn Battle Nexus into a wonderful experience, having that extra company makes you feel less like a dork. The four of you can make fun of it as you play, if anything.

Overall:
I thought about giving this game a 5 on the grounds that it's just an average brawler, but then I realized, "Hey, this game was boring and frustrating and only reminded me that I have better things to do." That's not an average brawler. That's a bad game. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have seen better days, and it's a shame my fond memories of these guys are turned into a problematic anime rip-off. Keep your turtle nostalgia safe and play LEGO Star Wars or Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks instead.

Points:
+ Uh... it's 4 players?
-- Troublesome platforming
-- Boring fighting
-- Wacky camera
-- Annoying ambience

Score: 2/10


Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 10/27/05


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