First, some disclaimers. I've adored the TMNT since all those Saturday mornings ago and have absolutely bought into the new animated Nickelodeon series and its style. It's irreverence but also respect for the source material is incredibly admirable. So when I heard that there was an old-school beat 'em up style TMNT game based on the animated series on its way, I couldn't help be giddy.
But the game, TMNT: Out of the Shadows is a strange amalgamation of the Nickelodeon cartoon with elements from the classic 80s and 90s shows and films… with the character designs from Michael Bay's soon to be released film (which I don't exactly love). The storyline is set within the Nickelodeon show, but why do the characters have the grotesque nostril-present design from Bay's "remagining?" It's all very confusing.
I gave the trial download a spin, which I know is never indicative of the final version of the game, but I think that's where my play of TMNT: OOTS will come to an end. The game is a relatively cheap buy at $14.99 and a few minutes in, you realize why this isn't a AAA title. The cutscenes are a strange comic art reminiscent of those created for Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime (interestingly the game is developed by Red Fly Studios, the company behind the PS2 and Wii versions of Ghostbusters: The Video Game). The voice actors are a strange soundalike crew of the Nickelodeon show, which feels like a missed opportunity.
It's a shame because you can tell that the developers wanted to put their heart and souls into this game. Added touches like the "Turtle Power" song from the original New Line live-action film to greet you and fun added bonus around the Turtle Lair give hints and nods to what could have been. In fact, a great interview that I tracked down with the lead designer Chris Frechette at the Turtlepedia attests to the fact that they wanted to pour their love of the series into the game.
But the end result is a cheap feeling beat 'em up with essentially the same mechanics as the GameCube game that I enjoyed the crap out of ten plus years ago… but had the same issues with then: a lot of button mashing and combos aren't enough to keep you entertained for more than a few minutes. But given the $15 price tag, maybe that's what this identity confused game was cobbled together to be.