REVIEW: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash-Up
Coming from the same crew that brought us Super Smash Bros. Brawl comes another brawler in the same vein. But how, exactly, do you possibly make another brawler after the “epicness” of SSB: Brawl? Simple… you add the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Ubisoft has put together a brawler for the Wii and PS2 starring, not only the Ninja Turtles, but a variety of characters from the Ninja Turtles universe. It’s important to note that (thankfully) this is not a movie tie-in title. This Turtles game was made purely to be a stand-alone title and celebrates the 25 year anniversary of the Turtles franchise. Originally it was to be an exclusive for the Wii but a PS2 port was released at the last minute. We’ll be focusing on the Wii version for this review.
Art and Animation
The Ninja Turtles have seen many different art iterations in their time but the art style in Smash Up consists of the same art style found in the most recent CG Turtles movie. During brawls, the frame-rate moves very smoothly. All the characters have interesting and enjoyable animations for their attacks. The environments are very well designed with locals like a burning Chinese rooftop, a moving train, a jungle, a sewer (of course) and a cruise ship which gets destroyed by icebergs, sharks and whales. The environments are anything but static with all kinds of chaos happening.
In the main story mode players are treated to cinematics that tell the story of the tournament. The cinematics are actually still images with voiceovers. Normally I can’t stand this kind of “corner cutting” but in this case it’s very welcome; the cinematics are meant to look like pages from the old Turtles comics. In fact, the pencil art was actually created for Smash Up by veteran TMNT comic artist Jim Lawson who does all the pencil work for the TMNT Volume 4 comic series.
Voicework for Smash up is done by the cast that voices the 2003 Ninja Turtles TV series. Although the dialogue in the cartoon is, admittedly, written much better than the game, it still has the same appeal as the show. Weapons clanging and punches and kicks thudding all sound like they fit pretty well in the game. Sound effects that notify you that a particular event has taken place, thankfully, do not go unnoticed; for example, a certain buzzing sound effect will let the player know that he’s been stunned. This sound effect is unmistakable and I can’t stand hearing it because I know I’m about to take a katana sword to the face when I hear it. The background music is also enjoyable. None of it feels too campy but at the same time hardly any of it is memorable.
You start off with Raph, Donnie, Mikey and Leo along with Casey Jones, April O’Neil and Splinter as playable characters. As you progress you get to unlock more playable characters [SPOILER ALERT!] such as Karai, Shredder and The Utrominator (this character is good but it’s just a horrible tease to tell us that Krang could have been in this game). Ubisoft also placed their thumbprint in this title by adding multiple Raving Rabbids as playable fighters. I’m not even joking. They are even dressed for the fight whereas one of them is dressed like a Ninja Turtle and another is dressed like Sam Fisher from the Splinter Cell games. It’s a freakin’ riot! Like I said before, there is so much happening at once in the environments. Some environments rival the amount of interactivity that is found even in Super Smash Bros. Brawl! Unlike Brawl however is the way players are knocked out; players do not knock eachother out of the arena, instead the characters have energy bars. Once the bar goes all the way down, it’s over. There are multiple modes of play which include the story mode, versus modes and online play. Aside from the main fighting modes, mini games are scattered throughout Smash Up. The story mode will also have you play one of the mini games of your choice as you progress through it. Even trophies are present in Smash Up but how you acquire them is a little odd. Instead of earning trophies, you earn parts of trophies such as Raphael’s leg or Foot Soldier’s arm. Trophies are completed after collecting the appropriate parts.
The Final Verdict
TMNT: Smash Up is an awesome brawler in and of itself. The gameplay is distinctive enough to differentiate itself from games like Super Smash Bros. Brawl and is fun enough to be enjoyed by Turtle fans and non-Turtle fans. The dialogue can get kind of campy at times but the gameplay is undeniable. The online multiplayer ability adds to the already good formula in Smash Up and extends the replay value even further. Fans of brawler games, multiplayer games and the Ninja Turtles will find TMNT: Smash Up to be a must have for their Wii library. I’d say that pretty much deserves a “Cowabunga” or two.