NYCC: Hands-on with TMNT

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OMG is it the early 90s again? The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back, and like before, they're invading all forms of media: cartoon, comic, movie, and game. While the past few iterations of the franchise were a little shy of the "good" mark, the upcoming Xbox 360 version looks to bring the franchise back with a bang. Many hardcore gamers probably recall the early NES/Arcade games quite fondly, and Ubisoft's take on the franchise looks to restore the fun factor of those games.

This upcoming rendition of TMNT has the unique "Ubisoft touch." You know, add a lot of inspiration from their other series, Prince of Persia. While not original, the acrobatic nature of the game works quite well, giving the turtles a real "ninja" feel. All the wall jumping, wall running, and double jumping is handled via the A button: it's certainly easy to learn, but it'll take a while to get the hang of it. Stay too close to a wall and you may find yourself running, instead of jumping. Although it takes some getting used to, it was incredibly fun and refreshing to see your Turtle quickly and gracefully move around the city.

The combat also seems inspired by Prince of Persia. Each character has a unique weapon and special attack, and the player is able to switch between the four brothers on the fly. Combat is mostly done through two buttons, which makes it fairly easy to start pulling off some impressive-looking combos. Given my limited time with the game, I was mostly button mashing, but found the demo to be fun nonetheless.

While how much depth the game will ultimately have comes into question, the upcoming TMNT game was surprisingly good: it certainly far exceeded my expectations, and is easily the best TMNT game to come out since the 16-bit era. The game seems to be an excellent supplement to the upcoming film, especially with its impressive production values: the turtles will (for better or worse) frequently banter in the background, and the cutscenes utilize a comic-book style very well.

I only got to play the Xbox 360 version, and the graphics certainly didn't blow me away. At Comic Con, the Creative Director assured the audience that the Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 2 version of the game wouldn't look too different. Considering the relatively low amount of detail in the game, that comes as unsurprising. The Xbox 360 will be the only console to output the game in HD, and will have more enemies on-screen than its technologically inferior counterparts. The Wii version will play down the motion control aspect, but like most every other Wii game, it will feature a series of minigames that use the Wiimote functionality.

The game comes out March 13, ten days before the movie's release.
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