I remember being in preschool and waking up early on Saturdays to watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I had action figures of three of the four turtles (screw Leonardo) and Master Splinter. I would run around my neighborhood with sticks, pretending to be Donatello, Raphael, or Michelangelo. I LOVED these characters and the universe they lived in. That all changed when I got my hands on this buggy, uninspired atrocity. Within the span of the few hours it took me to get through TMNT: Out Of The Shadows, I went from a huge fan, to wanting to have nothing to do with this franchise.
As soon as I started TMNT: Out of the Shadows, I was taken aback by how ugly it looks. Textures either don’t load or are non-existent. The turtles themselves have these strange, soulless eyes that glow white when you have your weapons out. Out of the Shadows is based on the TMNT reboot cartoon being aired on Nickleodeon, and so all the character designs are taken from the show. Instead of using the in-game engine for cutscenes, Red Fly Studios decided to pay homage to the Ninja Turtle source comic by having cutscenes play out in comic book form. Somehow, even these drawn segments look muddy and bland. They aren’t as bland as the enemy design though. Each chapter has its own enemies, and they are all carbon copies of each other. The tougher enemies might be a different color but they, for the most part, look exactly like every other gang member, Foot clan ninja, Mouser, or Kraang robot. Even the pickup system is a mess. Why would NINJA turtles use grenades? I guess it makes sense that if you pick up a box of pizza or electric shuriken, only that specific turtle can use them, but when two of your teammates are dead and they’re the ones with the pizza health packs, you get extremely nervous that you’ll have to play this game for longer.
Each turtle has his own detailed look and, in the heat of battle, can be told apart by the color trails left by their weapons. This gets to be a problem when it’s all four turtles in an enclosed area because all you see are four single colored rainbows flashing around the screen, which makes countering near impossible since it is reliant on being able to see little halos that surround enemies right before they are about to attack. The camera doesn’t do you any favors by constantly moving and only settling when it somehow gets caught on a piece of geometry or when it zooms into a turtle’s asscrack. The sad part is that I’m not exaggerating even a little. At least 6 or 7 times, the camera would independent rotate behind the turtle I was controlling, zoom in on his buttocks, and just stay there.
The controls are just as bad as the visuals. There were multiple instances where my character would get stuck in an animation and I would have to either wait for them to figure their way out of it, or switch to another turtle and continue on in the level until the next scripted event for them to snap out of it. The most annoying instance of this had Raphael pushing a button that wasn’t there for a third of the chapter I was trudging through. Developer Red Fly Studios added an XP upgrade system to unlock combos and special weapons, but, for the most part, the combos are difficult to pull off because of the loose controls and the special weapons are merely cosmetic. Most of the time, you’ll find yourself just mashing on the weapon or kick button and hoping that the hit detection recognizes you hitting an enemy instead of flailing uselessly six inches from them.
Every one of the four chapters has its own music that sounds okay the first time it loops, but after about 20 minutes of the same “hip, urban” music playing over and over, you’ll turn the music slider all the way down. Then you get to hear the banter between the turtles. The voice acting is maybe the best part about this game. It’s not terrible, but hearing Donnie talk about how pizza is actually Chinese and not Italian 37 times, makes it lose any minuscule charm it had.
TMNT: Out of the Shadows isn’t the worst game in history. It has tiny sparkles of goodness sprinkled on the mountain of manure. It calls back to the the original cartoon’s theme song by having one of Mikey’s upgrades be named “Party Dude”. It even got a smirk out of me when Raph starts questioning Leo’s role on the team. “Mikey’s the funny one. I’m the jerk. Donnie’s the smart one. What are you Leo? Every turtle?” If the developers did one thing right on this game, it was that one little bit of dialogue. But, like everything else in this game, it lost its charm the 50th time I heard it.
As this game was finishing up, I found myself with tears in my eyes. I don’t know if they were tears of relief that this torturous ordeal was over or if they were tears of sadness that such an integral part of my childhood was desecrated to such an extent. That’s probably the worst thing about TMNT: Out Of The Shadows. It takes such a great franchise and absolutely ruins it for older people who are nostalgic for the franchise, and for younger people who might just be getting into it and equating the quality of this game to the quality of the franchise as a whole.
[-Horrible sound mixing] [-Even worse visuals] [-Bland repetitve gameplay] [-Lots of game glitches and breaks] [-Did I mention how everything is repetitive?] [+Knows that Leo is the worst turtle] [-Tells you about it 5000 times]