Nostalgia can only get you so far. In my case? About seventeen minutes. Seventeen minutes before the fact that this was a TMNT game wore thin and I wished I was playing something else.
Stumbling clumsily through the mundane, clunky tutorial which precedes this barely playable mess I got the distinctly sinking feeling that the whole affair was less half shell and more half baked. Developer Red Fly clearly love the franchise and have lavished that affection on the game wherever they can, leaving me with the unfortunate conclusion that they simply didn’t do a very good job.
Comparisons to Arkham Aslyum’s combat system have abounded, but you might as well compare Ramen noodles to sirloin steak. Yes, both are for eating. Yes, both have merit. But are they the same? No. One’s meaty, juicy, tender, generally a little bloody when it’s done right and worth every cent.
The other is what eighteen year olds eat whilst they’re sat in their pants watching the Jeremy Kyle show. Cowabunga.
Each turtle has been lovingly rendered on screen and each possesses a unique personality. From serious business Leonardo to tormented ladies (lady turtles?) man Raphael, not to mention wise cracking Michelangelo and original amphibinerd Donatello, a great deal of care and attention has gone into making the turtles as perfect as possible, which makes what happens when you play the game a real shame. Half an hour into the title I turn to my flat mate and flatly announce ‘this game sucks ass’.
Having given her a try whilst I made dinner she turned to me not long after beginning and said ‘I’ma thinking that thisa game sucka all of the asses’, which, slightly racist representation of her Italian accent aside, sums the whole thing up fairly well.
Game ruining glitches and laggy mechanics go together to make a genuinely frustrating experience. The mix of third-person brawling with hackneyed stealth elements, irritatingly askew platforming and a random mini game thrown in to distract you from how unhappy you are for thirty seconds or so, go together to make even the most relaxed gamer froth at the mouth with barely concealed frustration.
More often than not when playing in single player, which is the only mode which lets you regularly see the enemies coming at you without pressing your nose against the screen (running the risk of burning your exposed stomach on your TV stand which gets dangerously hot if the set is left on for too long) the camera angle conspires against you to make performing a successful counter attack highly unlikely. It’s genuinely the worst camera system we at N3 have seen since Rugrats: The Search for Reptar which left ten year old me screaming at the television when the baby I was controlling got stuck on a box which I couldn’t see.
Supplementing Out of the Shadows’ combat is a slightly oversimplified RPG style upgrade system, through which you can level up your turtles using ability points. This adds a welcome layer of strategy depth to the otherwise Tekken 2-esque mash ’em up gameplay, allowing you to choose upgraded moves from a nicely laid out skill tree.
That included, Red Fly have come up with half a dozen brilliant features for the title which could have made it genuinely worth a purchase, but the myriad of technical issues render each of them unfortunately redundant. Cut scenes fail to play, turtles and enemies spawn in inaccessible rooms or simply fail to move for no apparent reason and each time this happens a reset is required, meaning that a good half of the ten or so hours it took me to get through the game were spent on loading screens and swearing.
As much as I love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it’s left for me to say that Out of the Shadows is one for the Shredder without a Splinter of a doubt. I’ll be getting my nostalgia fix from the late eighties NES game and I’d suggest you all do the same. Cowabunga indeed.