TMNT, the game based on the recently released Ninja Turtles movie, falls strictly under the 'made for under 10s' heading. While some of us twenty-somethings have fond memories of the Turtles, the new movie wasn't made for us and neither was the game. Judged alongside great action platformers like Prince of Persia, TMNT comes up short, but as a game made strictly for kids, it's not a bad effort.
The game follows the four shelled ninjas as they battle through various locations, with the actual story being told as a recap, with each turtle taking a turn to tell his own story. It's all rather confusing, especially considering Raphael has become some kind of disguised solo superhero and the turtles rarely seem to fight together - they're never all together on screen at once.
Throughout the game you take control of one of the four turtles, with each possessing his own special skill. Michelangelo can use his nunchucks to hover, Donatello can use his long stick to leap large distances, Raphael can use his daggers to climb walls and Leonardo can pass through solid objects. As cool as these moves may sound, they're very context sensitive, with the time to use them being clearly signposted.
Combat is also remarkably simple, with a couple of basic moves being all you'll need to dispatch the generic bad guys. You'll never be surprised either, seeing as all fights take place in confined arenas that force you to beat all the enemies before you can move on. It's not a bad design decision given the target audience, but it soon becomes rather predictable.
Interspersing these fights are platform sections that see you running and jumping through various environments. Aside from some occasionally clumsy sections these parts of the game are good fun and let you run through with a solid illusion that you're actually a skilful ninja. Of course, the controls are incredibly simple and do their best to help you out, but Ubisoft was wise to focus on this area of the game over the fairly repetitive combat.
Being a team of four, you might be expecting to be able to play TMNT in co-op, but that sadly isn't the case - the game is strictly for solo players. Other turtles can be called upon for help and you can switch between characters, but that's it. Being able to switch characters does make for an incredibly forgiving game, as you're able to let an injured turtle recover while a fresh team member takes his place.
Differences between the home console and PC versions are minimal but there are a few things of note. Firstly, the Wii version includes some pretty unsuccessful motion controls for attacks that feel like they were thrown in simply to capitalise on Wii-mania. The Xbox 360 version looks the best, although not by a huge degree, and includes Achievement points, and that's about it. All the versions feature the same angular, stylised visuals and lively if annoying voice work.
TMNT was made with a clear audience in mind and it seems to have hit its mark dead on. It should provide an entertaining ninja experience for the under 10 market but in doing so can't be recommended to more experienced gamers. If you're old enough to remember the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on pre-32-Bit hardware, you'll sadly fall into the latter category.