We all love a bit of nostalgia. Just the other day we spent far too long in the office listening to 80's cartoon theme tunes on YouTube, discussing which were the best and which were quite frankly a bit rubbish. The good thing about YouTube is that it's free, and gives you just what you want, when you want it - and even if what you remembered so fondly is in fact a complete abomination, you can just click on something else. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled is an 800 Microsoft Points dose of classic arcade gaming, but you'll need a very thick pair of rose-tinted specs in order to get much from what is a very dated release.
Re-Shelled is a remake of the original arcade game from 1991, and sadly not a remake of the extended and arguably better SNES version that arrived a few years later. Gameplay is traditional side-scrolling (with some movement in and out of the screen) hack 'n' slash action, with you taking control of one of the four shelled ninjas as you fight off Shredder's foot soldiers and other nasties across a series of levels that'll take you no more than an hour to work through. The twist is that Shredder has somehow managed to send the turtles through some kind of time warp, so you'll be fighting in stages set throughout the Earth's history - including a stage complete with dinosaurs.
It all sounds like a recipe for some fun, but new gamers are likely to find a game that's severely lacking depth and existing fans will wonder why they remember the original so fondly if the original was actually this simplistic. You can now attack in eight directions, which is an improvement on the original, but with just two attack buttons and the ability to jump the combat will feel tiresome even before you reach the end on your first brief run through. Each of the turtles has a different heavy attack, but other than that they more or less play exactly the same.
At the end of each stage you'll face off against a boss character, many of whom fans of the cartoon series will remember, but these tougher enemies specialise in cheap attacks and some iffy collision detection. You should be able to slash your way through the entire game without too much trouble, but a few of the bosses will frustrate - a melting foe who slides across the ground and traps you in an inescapable attack string is particularly annoying and another slap in your memory's face.
There's some fun to be had playing with three mates, either locally or over Xbox LIVE, but it's short-lived and will probably soon descend into moaning about how dated the controls are and how the music has been changed. One level fairly early on in which you float down a sewage tunnel on a one-man raft, trying to dodge obstacles and flying aliens, sums up the game rather well. It's a frustrating experience and one that will likely see you returning to the original just to see if it was really like this - it was.
Visually Re-Shelled has been given a complete makeover. Gone are the sprites of the arcade original, replaced with cartoon-like 3D models and proper 3D environments. To compliment this, the lighting has been completely re-done too, but while this looks impressive it gives the game a slightly dull appearance in some of the stages. The original game largely looked quite vibrant, and this is missing for a lot of the time in Re-Shelled. This makeover will please some and disappoint others, especially as there's no option to play using the original visuals.
With only the core game mode and two mild variations based on the same levels there's just not enough game here to warrant a purchase. The combat isn't deep enough to make multiple play-throughs fun, and fun with friends will be short-lived, making Turtles in Time Re-Shelled something of a disappointment that will force all but the most stubborn fans into their shells.