IGN Preview of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Arcade Attack
Being the huge Ninja Turtles fan that I am I was instantly psyched to hear that a new TMNT game – titled "Tennage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Arcade Attack" – was on the way to Nintendo DS. A quick call was made to publisher Ubisoft, lives were threatened, and in no time I had a copy of the game in my hands for an official hands-on preview of the title. This may in fact be the greatest job on the planet, yes.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Arcade Attack is exactly what the name implies; an ode to the old beat-em-up designs of the 1980's and 90's. Before we get too far in the write-up though there are some dreams to crush at least just a little bit. This one is not 2D, much to my dismay, and while the game does play like a 2D fighter I continued to be baffled as to why Ubisoft went this direction. Everything from the intro sequences to title screen and story in between screams retro, but once the game kicks off you'll instantly be thrown into a 3D world that moves like a 2D game. Annoying? Yes, for this TMNT die-hard it is. Dealbreaker? As it turns out, no. No it isn't. I've gone three levels in on this arcade beat-em-up and while there are things I'd love to go in and fiddle with being both a retro gaming fan and classic TMNT lover there's also some fun to be had, and hopefully the start of even more Turtles arcade goodness in the future.
The game kicks off with perhaps the ultimate in fan service out there; a video story intro that's all black and white, and even done in the classic Laird & Eastman style. If it isn't them, it looks like it enough for me to do a double-take. The style is very comic book inspired, and it rocks. The story itself is also a pretty classic Turtles take, but it's also original. Shredder is gone, but a strange disturbance in cyberspace is occurring all around NYC. After a quick level of beat-em-up action against some local thugs a futuristic foot soldier drops down out of nowhere donned in gold armor. The turtles whup his butt, and find out the shocking truth: Shredder is alive, and manipulating NYC somehow from the future. That may not be a classic TMNT story for some fans, but others – the ones that know the comics, TCRI, Dimension X, and all that – should feel right at home with it.
The gameplay is what really matters though, and while there are some things I'd personally change it's also a pretty comprehensive brawler thus far. Only two turtles go out on missions at a time – in both local play and wireless – and move from stage to stage beating on baddies. Each turtle has different stats for speed, power, health, and weapon usage, so while Donatello and Leo both have distance, Mike is the fastest of the bunch and Raph deals the most damage per attack. The combat is handled with a jump button, block, weapon attack, and kicks. If you hold block and tap weapon you'll grab items – such as road cones, barrels, and bricks – to toss at enemies, can even toss thugs around the screen, and grab the other turtle for a power-up swing attack.
I haven't personally seen a thug thrown into the screen like the classic TMNT arcades, but it's apparently in there according to the shots Ubisoft sent on over. Depending on the direction you hold when grabbing you can toss enemies over your head, and also throw them up and into the air for air juggles (though it doesn't seem to be working entirely yet, as enemies fall fast but aren't' easy to actually strike in mid-air). Doing the team attack takes up an entire bar of special energy, but it refills fast enough and can be executed once every 30 seconds or so. What I haven't seen, however, is any other use for that bar, or any turtle-specific attacks along those lines.
There's more to the combat though. First off, weapons can be found in levels by breaking open boxes, TVs, or damaging road cones and the like. Inside you'll find the occasional pizza and box of popcorn for health upgrades, but at times you'll also find weapons like bricks (for throwing) and 2X4 or metal pipes. These can be swing a la Final Fight with the weapon button, or thrown via the kick attack. Simple, but it adds a bit more to the experience. Jump slashes can also be done, as can classic jump kicks (with the same "increased speed" shove down when kicking), and the block button has a mobility modifier to it as well. When blocking players can push away to do backflips, as well as up and down to roll up and down on the screen. Since the game plays like a 2D fighter that basically pops you in and out of attack zones (since characters can only attack left and right).
With the backflips, you can also tap attack when in the middle of the flip and actually add a powerful sliding kick to the end of it which shoots the turtle back into striking range and usually floors enemies. It's a basic addition, but it also lets you get out of attack range which a quick move, and then shoot right back in instantly. I've also used the flip to close distance as well, turning away from enemies and flipping backwards (but towards them) across the screen, even passing them and then using that shoot kick to strike from the back. It's a pretty cool addition, and one that spices up gameplay a bit.
There's also a few other quirks as well. When delivering a final strike on an enemy during a screen locked section the game will zoom in and show the slow motion finish. Other situations will actually have the turtles go into a blade clash with enemies, zooming in on the action and forcing the player to mash B and win the battle against the thug. Tap fast enough, and you'll win the test of strength, delivering an attack and flooring the baddie. As another addition, score is kept on the top screen showing not only points for both turtles based on combat, but also their current rank in that level. Rank high enough and you'll gain points that go towards unlocking boss rush modes and a survival mode.
In addition, each level also awards bonuses for things like not using continues or racking up huge combos. As another final tidbit, downed turtles (at least computer controlled ones) go into a helpless state like Gears of War, requiring you to run (or backflip) over to them and hit A to help them up. This replaces the computer's health bar, leaving the screen a bit more open and single player focused.
We'll have more on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Arcade Attack as we continue on through the game. Until then, check out the first screens of the game in action, found in our media gallery below. We hope to have first footage on the way soon too, so keep your eyes peeled for more Turtles goodness. The game is currently slated for a November 2009 ship date.
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