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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Preview by Siou Choy
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami
# of Players: 1-4
Genre: Action
Online: No
Est. Release: October 2003
Date Posted: 5-22-03

Ahh, the 80s. Madonna wannabes, heavy metal, the “A” Team, Miami Vice, Rambo, and a whole lot of people with bad drum machines, bad hair, and tacky (if expensive) clothes. One of the biggest things that comes to mind about the 80s was the plethora of cartoons that no longer existed for their own sake, but solely for the purpose of selling product. G.I. Joe, the Transformers, the Thundercats, the Smurfs, all the way down the line to the Monchichis, every corporate merchandiser got their shot at hucking toys, costumes, board games, video games, comics, etc. etc. at those too young to know better. One of the biggest phenomena of the 80s, at least after the execrable Cabbage Patch Kids, was an obscure black and white comic book parody of the then-unprecedented levels of popularity of the Xmen, Teen Titans, and Frank Miller’s Daredevil called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. From these humble beginnings, and quite unexpectedly, there grew an empire - toys, costumes, music, party favors, board games, video games, even 2 or 3 (believe it or not) live action movies (no wonder some clown thought a Howard the Duck movie would be a good idea). Now, a good decade to twenty years later, everyone’s favorite “heroes in a half shell” are back big time, thanks to the folks at Konami. In true “big 80’s” fashion, Konami plans to flood the market, releasing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for no less than five systems: Gamecube, Xbox, PS2, PC and GBA this fall. Longtime fans might want to note: the game is closely based on the current cartoon, as opposed to the one you grew up with during that generally unjustifiable decade of dork decadence.

How retro is retro? Is this enough for ya? TMNT is the first Ninja Turtle game since the days of the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. As might be hoped, the game has been updated just a bit from the days of 16-bit graphics, utilizing a pleasant mesh of 3D graphics and cel-shading, which gives the game that sorta 2D cartoonish look faithful fans might expect.

Whoa, dude. All of the earlier Ninja Turtle games were action platformers, and this latest installment will continue in that proud tradition (ahem). To keep the action light and fun, the game will feature word balloon sound effects ala Adam West’s Batman: “Crash,” “Bash,” “Boom” and the like will accompany your attacks on such enemies as Shredder’s Foot Ninjas (Marvel fans: read “the Hand). Despite having only two attack buttons (and one jump button), the game will feature about 10 motion capture moves for each turtle, with countless combos that can be thrown together therefrom. Sundry and various items and weaponry (such as the ever-popular shuriken, or “ninja throwing stars”) can be found throughout the game to assist the player in their progress through the game.

Surprisingly, the Story Mode will only allow for up to two people to play at one time. That said, all four turtles will be playable: Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael, and Leonardo (ooh, how clever - personally, I would have chosen Dali, Magritte, Munch and Delvaux, but then again, I would have never come up with something so absurd as the Turtles to begin with) all have their own special moves and advantages. For example, Donatello has the longest reach of all the turtles thanks to his Bo (staff), while Leonardo is the fastest. Move scrolls can be found in the course of gameplay, adding special attacks to the gamer’s oeuvre.

There will be a total of 35 levels in the game, with each of these divided into six individual stages. The game will, naturally, take place in New York City, spotlighting such popular tourist destinations as its sewers and rooftops. Hell, what did you expect, since Disney…well, Disneyfied 42nd Street, and a certain ex-mayor with pronounced fascistic tendencies “gentrified” all the hobos, punks, ethnics and generally colorful people right out of city limits, what’s really left to see?

Ice, Ice, Baby. A Versus Mode will be included in the game. For the truly clueless among us, this is where you can challenge a friend (or if you don’t have one to spare, the computer will fill that lonely ache in your heart, you poor little boy) and play as your favorite turtle (or villain, as the case may be - go, Krang!). Voices in the game will be provided by the cast of the current TMNT cartoon on FOX. Unfortunately, despite his starring turn in that cinematic masterpiece TMNT II: Secret of the Ooze, Vanilla Ice will not be a hidden playable character in the game (“Go, turtles! Go, turtles!”).

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is expected to hit the shelves this fall from Konami. Cowabunga, dude!

-- Siou Choy wants to know how Vanilla Ice lost to Todd Bridges.

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