Over the years, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have become a staple in video games. The amphibious foursome got their start on the NES with Ultra Games' self-titled effort, then starred in such classics as The Manhattan Project for NES and the SNES brawler Turtles in Time. They'll return later this month in the all-new 3D adventure, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, which introduces furious and brutal combat.
As expected, four characters are available, each with his own unique fighting style. First up is Leonardo, the leader of the group. Armed with a pair of katana blades, you should have no trouble cutting through enemies at medium range. Next is the party animal Michelangelo. He comes equipped with a pair of nunchucks that he can use to execute a number of wild moves to hit multiple enemies at once. Donatello possesses the best range, as his bo staff has a longer reach. That allows him to strike an enemy easier than his brothers. Last but certainly not least, Raphael cuts through bad guys with a pair of razor-sharp sais.
Rather than follow the formula Nickelodeon introduced with its animated series, Out of the Shadows leans more towards the live-action TMNT films from the 90s. There's a variety of moves to execute and combos to pull off. Everything appears user friendly, thanks to a built-in training system that lets you stop by the dojo and get a hang of the moves.
Each turtle also comes with defensive techniques. The game includes an array of counters, allowing them to grab a thug mid-strike and deliver a powerful counter-blow. They can also evade, rolling out of harm's way in case it doesn't look like they can stop an incoming attack. When necessary, sprinting is also available, with the opportunity to run into a group of baddies and deliver a diving or sliding kick.
Special moves play a huge part in the game, assigned to the right analog stick. You'll want to use these sparingly, as spamming them too much rather than utilizing primary battle techniques could leave your turtle feeling winded. Save it for when the resistance is too much to bear, or you have someone like Shredder to deal with.
In addition to their main weapons, each Turtle has shurikens to strike enemies from a distance, including gun-carrying thugs. You shouldn't rely on these weapons. Instead, pick off thugs from a distance.
Best of all, like the classic arcade games, Out of the Shadows encourages playing with friends. It supports up to four players through co-op, either locally or on Xbox Live/PlayStation Network, and the more Turtles you have, the more damage you can do. Not only can you work together to tactically clear a room of Foot Soldiers, but you're also capable of team-up moves, where two or more Turtles unleash a special attack together.
The turtles come with a skill tree, which you can level up following each mission to unlock new moves and strengthen your character. If you need to improve further, you can also enter the dojo to access side missions and unlock the game's unique Arcade Mode. This carries a retro Turtles vibe, including custom skins and a set-up similar to Konami's old-school games, complete with boss encounters. The more you fight, the stronger your squad grows.
It's been a while since we've had a Turtle party on game consoles, but Out of the Shadows appears to carry the vibe of the classic offerings while presenting a new combat style and multiplayer tactics that help it come out of its shell.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows releases on Xbox Live Arcade August 28th, and PlayStation 3 September 24th. It’ll cost $14.99.