The announcement of the Retro Video Game System, a cartridge-based console, is the latest case study in the debate of whether gaming should continue evolving beyond its roots.
TMNT Out of the Shadows Review: Heroes in a Half Game
With a strong history, unique universe, and great characters, it’s hard to argue against the potential of a video game based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And when it was announced that TMNT: Out of the Shadows would be released as part of the Xbox Live Summer of Arcade promotion, I was hopeful that we’d finally see an offering worthy of the Ninja Turtles’ legacy. Sadly, Out of the Shadows is a half-baked attempt to bring the Turtles to life that falls victim to nearly every trapping of a mediocre licensed game.
While Out of the Shadows sets up some interesting systems and has a great deal of potential from the start, it fails to capitalize on nearly all of the systems in any real and meaningful way. Weapon crafting allows access to more powerful versions of the turtle’s individual weapons, but in order to access them, you’ll have to wade through poor UI design that ultimately proves to be more trouble than it’s worth. Pulling off successful combos in combat yields experience points with which players can upgrade their character, but upgrades felt menial and rarely did anything to make my character feel truly improved. Combat offers up many varied attacks and combinations to string together, but severe lag left the controls feeling janky and lacking any tightness whatsoever.
On top of that, the environments are nothing more than bland rooms you’ll merely be siphoned into, the camera operates like it’s been drinking for 24 hours straight, the soundtrack is a weak set of looping music that adds nothing to the experience, the featured cooperative play has connectivity issues on PC, cutscenes are reduced to poorly-designed comic panels, and rampant bugs from disorganized AI response and movement to those of the game-breaking variety make an appearance all too often. And let’s not even talk about how the turtles look like bastardized versions of the lizard people from V.
Ultimately, mediocre is the best word I can use to describe Out of the Shadows. You’ll have a mild amount of fun running through environments and fighting off waves of enemies, and there’s something to be said for how good it feels to actually string together long sets of combos and pull off flashy finishing moves. But for what little it gets right, the game manages to feel like a lackluster licensed game in nearly every way imaginable, from its weak premise to the fact that every single piece of the game feels like a half-idea that was never fully fleshed out or developed. It lacks polish, offers up only enough fun to make it mostly playable, and will leave you more disappointed than satisfied by all of its shortcomings. Fans of the turtles would be better off avoiding this title and continuing to wait for the day the heroes in a half shell finally get a game that makes the most of their potential.