The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have have one of the largest catalog of games of any licensed property, yet despite the fact they have as of this Friday six theatrical features to their name, there’s barely a handful of titles that were based on the brother’s theatrical exploits. Which of those are worth playing and which can be skipped? If you’ve been reading my reviews this week you probably know the answer to that question already, but here’s my ranking of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie tie-in games that I’ve reviewed.
4) TMNT (2007) (NINTENDO DS)
The DS version of TMNT (2007) tries to capture the Prince of Perisa, platform heavy gameplay of its console counterpart, but does so in a way that’s so easy that it feels downright insulting at times. While it’s pretty cool to see the Turtles perform their acrobatic moves as they jump, climb, and swing around the game’s stages, the act of doing so is so automatic that it will not entertain even the youngest of players with how basic the package is. Couple this with some ugly graphics, a short play length and combat mechanics that require no strategy whatsoever, even in the case of the game’s bosses, and you’ve got one of the worst Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games to date.
3) TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (2014) (NINTENDO 3DS)
Given that Activision released all of their other TMNT games on console and choose to only do a handheld game to tie into the first Michael Bay produced Turtles film was probably a good indication that this was even a bigger cash grab than normal for the company. That being said, there are some things that I did like about this game that don’t make it a total waste, unlike the last game I just spoke about. The dungeon-crawler, Diablo style gameplay is an interesting diversion from the beat-em-up and plat-formers that other developers have made in the past, and I like how the developers tried to make each of the Turtles unique, at least in theory. Bright spots aside, the levels are boring both in design and look, and the uniqueness of the characters abilities are wasted when it’s just as easy to power through with your favourite Turtle of choice than to switch to the one the developers intended to. If you have a 3DS and want to play a TMNT game, it’s best to stick with WayForward’s Danger of the Ooze.
2) TMNT (2007) (MULTIPLATFORM BUT REVIEWED ON XBOX 360)
Prior to this game, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games were mostly all about combat, but Ubisoft’s first outing with Heroes in a Half-Shell focused more on the teams ninja training and acrobatics, largely to its benefit. Shamelessly ripping themselves off by merging the fantastic parkour plat-forming mechanics from the Prince of Persia series and merging them with the TMNT franchise was a stroke of genuis, and honestly I wish Ubisoft had given this idea another go in a sequel or follow-up to fix this game’s rough spots, namely the fighthing mechanics, game length and challenge.
When not running around rooftops, swinging from poles or wall-running, things take a turn for the worse as you retreat to a corner, hold a button and watch your character more or less fight for you. The Sands of Time trilogy wasn’t remembered exactly for its combat, it still was a lot more engaging than what’s literally on display here, as you barely have to hit any controller inputs to succeed. Coupled with an easy difficulty and a short playtime, TMNT (2007) doesn’t reach the highs of the Konami days, but it’s still a fun game while it lasts and worth checking out if you’re a fan of the franchise on whatever console you still have hooked up that can play it.
1) TMNT (2007) (GAME BOY ADVANCE)
Ubisoft released a version of TMNT (2007) on every available platform that was released at the time, save the original Xbox and the PS3. Despite the fact that every version of this game ran on far superior hardware, it’s the Game Boy Advance version of TMNT (2007) that’s not only the best Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie games, but one of the best games to star the characters ever. Taking a page from Konami’s beat-em-up playbook, TMNT (2007) on the Game Boy Advance is a gorgeous looking, sprite-based brawler that’s about as fun to play as it simply is to look at. With solid combat mechanics, challenging yet fair bosses and beautiful art-direction, this more so than Ubisoft’s console game deserved a sequel and far better than the obscurity that it seems to have fallen into. If you have the means to play it, whether on an older DS, any version of the GBA, a Game Boy Player or a Retron console, you need to seek out this wonderful game that has very few flaws.
A majority of early Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games took inspiration from the animated series, though there was an early DOS game titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Manhattan Missions that took inspiration from both the Mirage comics and the first live-action film. Check out this longplay from Ingamer:
The NES’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project, SNES’s Turtles in Time and the Sega Genesis’s Hyperstone Heist borrowed elements from the first two live-action TMNT films despite having an art style reminscent of the animated series. All three featured boss encounters with Super Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze and both The Manhattan Project and Turtles in Time had fights from the duo of Tokka and Rahzar who debuted in Secret of the Ooze. Exclusive to The Hyperstone Heist is a boss battle with Tatsu, Shredder’s right hand man from the first two live-action films.