**May Contain Spoilers**
As a kid, I remember sneaking back into the living room after my parents had gone to bed and turning down the volume on the TV to quietly play a couple of hours-worth of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (the arcade game) on the NES. It wasn't something I WANTED to do, but simply something that I HAD to do; the game just kept calling my name. Circling back more than 20 years later, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, from the developers at Red Fly Studio, takes a lot of elements that made its distant relative successful, but is it enough to bring long-time fans of the franchise out of the sewers for another round?
The short answer is: yes. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows does many things right. Aside from a few hiccups (which I will detail a bit later), TMNT: OOTS is a highly enjoyable arcade game that always gives you something to love about playing the game--right from the moment the game's music hits the speakers. Thankfully, the game doesn't use the theme song from the Nickelodeon show. The game stays true to the TMNT franchise, but follows the more recent storylines from the Nickelodeon show, not the 1980s cartoon or the movies.
The fighting mechanics feel a lot like Batman: Arkham City, but slower and a little less responsive. You'll have to piece together combos while avoiding being overtaken by The Foot Clan, The Krang, and those m.o.u.s.e.r.s that everyone loves to kill (yes, they're just as satisfying in TMNT: OOTS as they were in the arcade game 20 years ago). The combat is surprisingly complex for an XBLA, and there are many different combos to master. Each turtle has their own specialties, which can be further enhanced and leveled up through a skill tree mechanic that allows you to earn new moves and increase your turtle's stats.
There are a few boss battles in the game, and the one with Shredder in his hideout is so infuriatingly hard, you'll likely attempt it 4 or 5 times before actually defeating him. Out of all of the games I've played in my lifetime, the Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows might very well make it into the top ten hardest bosses of all time.
The turtles all remain true to character: Leo's the leader, Donnie is the brains, Raph is a tough guy, and Mikey is the funny one. Throughout the game, Raph will tease Mikey, Mikey will throw out some funny “what if” scenarios, and Donnie will come out with some words of knowledge. Not only do the turtles sound like the turtles we know and love, they also fight like the turtles we know and love. The turtles will all work together while fighting, creating combos with each other and doing many classic TMNT tag team moves, such as smashing a foot clan soldier's head inbetween two turtle shells. Splinter's dialogue also stays true to the Splinter we know and love, and I found myself in practice mode a few times just to listen to Splinter throw out some of his typical bits of knowledge that feel like they were stolen from Sun Tzu's The Art of War.
The game's graphics are very hot and cold--on the one hand, the overall look of the game seems to work, but some of the textures are dull and the game just generally lacks polish. More importantly, though, man are these turtles UGLY! We knew this from seeing the trailers, but they remind me of those failed Jurassic Park IV concept art pieces in which the dinosaurs looked more like humans. Aside from the ugly faces, the turtles actually look pretty good. The weapons are detailed nicely, and each turtle has their own unique features. You can tell it is an XBLA/PSN game, though, but that's okay; you're likely not playing TMNT: OOTS for a graphical 'Wow'.
Unfortunately, you can't play an offline co-op match without playing in split-screen, so playing an online co-op match is where the game is at its best. Players can join in and out of an online 4 player co-op match with hardly any effort, and can also create their own private matches if they want to play with their friends.
There were quite a few glitches along the way, though. Enemies will sometimes float in the air after being defeated, making them look like they are still alive, forcing you to fight them until you realize that they've already been defeated. Objects will also float in mid air awkwardly, such as a floating baseball bat or just the head of one of the defeated bosses. There was also a moment during an intense boss battle in which the only turtle I had left was Mikey, and when it switched to Mikey, he was glitched inside of a shipping container, forcing me to restart the entire boss battle.
Glitches aside, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows has many of the elements from the original TMNT arcade game that made it so enjoyable, while adding a few new elements of its own into the mix. Teaming up with your friends online to beat up on the foot clan is highly enjoyable, and finding the perfect combo to help you defeat a horde of enemies is a rewarding experience. The game is highly re-playable, and you'll definitely get your money's worth with this one.
Gameplay – 7.5/10
Graphics – 7/10
Sound – 9/10
Multiplayer – 8/10
Replayability – 8/10
Den of Geek Rating – 7.9/10