This game underwhelming, but at least it doesn't feel like a completely slapdash cash-in.
The game's visual direction begins nicely with the use of comic book pages to tell the story, hearkening back to TMNT's origins. The first level is a lush jungle, with waterfalls sparkling with rainbows and beams of light shining down. As you push through plants, a cartoonish warping effect occurs — it may not be realistic, but it looks good.
Despite this striking start, the environments gradually become less interesting as the game progresses, and the audio is wholly unimpressive throughout. The turtles do make crisp sounds when attacking and flipping about, but it's counterbalanced by weak impact sounds when you land hits.
Family is a Force
The game's buddy system presents its real potential. You begin the game by playing each turtle solo, and you must impress each turtle and convince them to join up. Once they come together you'll switch between each turtle with a button tap to employ each of their unique talents to progress through the game. For example, you'll use Michelangelo's nunchuck helicopters to cross large chasms or Donatello's pole vault manoeuvre to get through narrow gaps.
Each turtle is supposed to excel against certain enemies, but the button-mashing combat system mostly nullifies these strengths. You have several special moves, but you can defeat any enemy by simply running up to them and mashing the circle button, no matter which turtle you are. The only noticeable differences are that Donatello has extra range, and Michelangelo sucks because he has to hit every enemy three times longer than the other turtles.
The Ninja That Could Have Been
The controls plummet downhill after the start. At first you feel agile and nimble as you double jump, run along walls, and wall-jump up narrow gaps. Later though, jumping puzzles appear and reveal weaknesses in the control scheme. You are taught how to run along walls by pressing the left analog stick, but at certain points your turtle just doesn't stick to the wall and you may end up falling to an instant death over and over. Also, you'll get used to double jumping, but you'll encounter plenty of areas where double jumping will overshoot your target, and once again you'll face instant death.