Video Game Review: TMNT – Out of the Shadows

TMNT – Out of the Shadows Title Screen

The 80s were and always will be such a blur to me. It wasn’t the excessive cocaine use, blinding neon colors, or the advent of Wham!’s Wake Me up Before You Go Go. No, it was the fact that I spent all of my earliest years in them, along with my four turtle friends.

I was always Leonardo, splinter’s favorite student. I was the guy with two swords on his shell, wearing the blue bandanna, who was cold as ice when it all went down. If you were a kid in the late 80s and early 90s, you were most likely a turtle as well, and so were all your friends.

Leonardo Looking as Badass as Ever

Flash forward today, all of us are in our late 20s to mid 30s, and we haven’t belonged to the demographic of this marketing phenomena in quite some time. Since then, there has been a live action show that failed, a Fox version that most of us never saw, a CG animated film, and even a new TV show on’s favorite student. I was the guy with two swords on his shell, wearing the blue bandanna, who was cold as ice when it all went down. If you were a kid in the late 80s and early 90s, you were most likely a turtle as well, and so were all your friends.

Now, we all know how awesome the show and the arcade games were. They were easily my favorite beat ’em ups along with the Simpsons. These games were nearly the sole reason for the average kid to get excited about going to the arcade. It’s safe to say that we’ve been trained from an early age to take, if only a modicum of, interest in Ninja Turtle games. Personally, the last one I played was the HD remake of Turtles in Time, which I found lacking in everything that made the original great.

As you can clearly see, they look nothing like turtles! /Sarcasm

Today, I’m reviewing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. One major concern and criticism has been the re-imaging of the turtles. I’ve seen plenty of angry Facebook comments denouncing them as being the same characters. To me, I was never a fan of the mid 90s art. I liked the pilot episode’s designs, animation, and darkness a lot better. And the best rendition of the Ninja Turtles will always be in the opening sequence of the original cartoon.

Then you have your E-experts who claim they look more like lizards. If you agree with that, you’ve also been properly mislead by both the movie costumes and cartoons. Go google up what a turtle looks like and come back; I’ll wait. See? The new character designs have them looking more like turtles than they ever have before. Stylistically, it’s obvious they are a more mature take on the Nickelodeon cartoon. And while I’m not a huge fan of some design choices made here, they definitely walk, talk, and act like Ninja Turtles. There was never a moment, playing this game, where I felt I was partaking in a cheap knockoff. Trust me, this is legit TMNT experience.

The game uses the unreal engine, which makes it look gorgeous at times. But the real heart of any Ninja Turtles game should be the action, and this one doesn’t skimp on anything. In fact, this is the first time I ever felt like I was controlling an actual Ninja Turtle. There is no imagination required here. You have a multitude of combos, team attacks, counters, and generally complex, fun ways of dispatching foot soldiers — making it feel far less repetitive than yesteryear’s games. Simply put, the core combat engine is great.

There is also Donny’s Workshop, where you can obtain and upgrade special weapons, Challenge mode, where you fight several rounds of bad guys to compete for high scores, with online leaderboards, and a training mode called the dojo, where you can specify the type of training you want to do and perfect your technique. Yes, it’s complex enough to warrant something like that!

Concept art panels are used to tell the story.

But it’s not perfect. For everything right about this game, there is something wrong with it. The major issue is the camera; it can become obstructed way too easily. I really hope they patch this as it gets very frustrating trying to fight for your life when staring at the backside of a brick wall. Secondly, it’s a short game. Now, it’s left fairly open ended, and I’m guessing there are plans for expansions. But I really wish it was longer, and I am a bit disappointed by the lack of technodrome.

Next, there is no online multiplayer for arcade mode! So people like me, who moved a couple thousand miles away from their childhood friends, are forced to tackle this mode solo, and there is no Konami code to bail us out. Anyways, good luck on that. I really hope they add this feature sometime in the future as it’s actually a lot of fun to play.

Lastly, there are glitches, especially in online play. Some of them are serious; others are just amusing (e.g., I slid under the mouser cerberus, clipped through a wall, and found myself trapped inside the previous building / bay of the first part of the fight. Luckily though, my fellow turtles were enough to handle it without me.

With all that said, this is the best Ninja Turtles game I’ve played since the original arcade games. Whether you’re playing with friends or online strangers, it just feels right — even when losing because the other players have no idea what they’re doing! It took me right back to those days of playing next to kids you never met before, trying to save the world from The Shredder and his goons. For a mere 15 bucks, it’s a shell of a time!

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