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May 2024

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade: Wrath Of The Mutants

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: GameMill Entertainment
Developer: Cradle Games
Release Date: April 23, 2024


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PC Review - 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade: Wrath of the Mutants'

by Cody Medellin on April 23, 2024 @ 7:00 a.m. PDT

An expanded version of the 2017 Raw Thrills arcade classic, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade: Wrath of the Mutants lets you play as the Turtles solo or in action-packed local co-op for up to four players.

When you mention "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and "arcade" in the same sentence, most people of a certain age will conjure up memories of the 1989 game from Konami.
The company's success with this game started them down a path of producing a slew of memorable beat-'em-ups based on popular licenses, including the sequel to the TMNT game subtitled Turtles in Time. What few people may realize is that there was one other Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game to hit the arcades, announced by Raw Thrills in 2017 and based on the 2012 show from Nickelodeon. The recent announcement that it would become a home experience nearly seven years later is a nice surprise, and to prevent more confusion, the game has been retitled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade: Wrath of the Mutants.

There's no narrative. Games like this don't tend to need a story, but the past titles from Konami always provided a basic premise. The ending presumes that a story did exist, so it's odd to not see a references to it. The game isn't linear, so you can select which stages you want to tackle in any order. You'll still need to beat them all before you can tackle Shredder, but the lack of a set order explains why the developers felt that a story wasn't necessary.

The core gameplay loop is similar to what was present in the old Konami titles that this game pays homage to. You and up to three local friends can select which of the four turtles you want to play as. Despite their different weapons, the gameplay differences are almost imperceptible. It's standard beat-'em-up fare, with one button for attacks and one for jumps. Using both buttons strings together basic combos and uncovers some special moves that deliver more damage at the expense of some of your health. For the most part, the game is very similar to the old titles that it's emulating. That means the action is well paced, but it also means that trying to get in a near-flawless run is impossible. The game always gives enemies an opportunity to gang up on you or get in some cheap hits, just like those old games did.

With that formula nailed down, Wrath of the Mutants starts to get ambitious by introducing various changes and tweaks. The most apparent change is the presence of a Turtle Power button, which acts as a screen-clearing move that eliminates in one hit while also delivering a lot of damage to bosses. Each of the turtles have his own screen-clearing move, ranging from a katana tornado to throwing pizza slices, but filling up the bar to execute these moves is easy enough, so there's no reason to save these powers for a boss fight.

Beyond the Turtle Power move, you also have other weapons at your disposal. The environmental weapons from prior games, like flying parking meters and water pipe knobs, are all present, but the game takes a page from classic brawlers by letting you pick up items like trash cans and hurl them at enemies. Shurikens and smoke bombs drop in certain spots, and you can also get screen-clearing moves in the form of cameo characters like Leatherhead, Metalhead, and Ice Cream Kitty. One subtle but welcome tweak to the fighting system is the move to real 3D, where you can attack up, down, and diagonally in addition to the standard left and right directions. It's a small touch that might not be noticeable at first, but it makes the fighting feel a touch more advanced.

The good fighting mechanics are put to good use throughout six stages, which differ from past TMNT titles in that they're longer and feature two bosses each. Of those, two are completely brand-new stages made for the home release, complete with two new bosses each. The game advertises a total of three new stages and six bosses, and that's accomplished with a revamp of the Shredder stage, making it a full-on stage with a mid-boss and a dual-stage version of Shredder instead of just a boss rush like the original arcade version.

Wrath of the Mutants is quite short, clocking in at just under an hour for the Normal difficulty level when playing solo. That's not really a complaint, since arcade games aren't meant to take several hours, but the game doesn't try to make itself challenging beyond the aforementioned cheap hits from enemies . Enemies are good about coming toward you, but they're also good about going near anything that's on the verge of exploding, making them dumber than the Foot Clan ninjas in practically every other TMNT title. The game also resets the life counter and continues counter at every stage, so you'll always approach each level with nine lives. Unless you're new to the genre, you'll easily conquer the game.

There's not much else to pursue once the end credits roll. You have a Hard difficulty option unlocked, but there's nothing else to unlock, such as extra characters and stages. Leaderboards are present, but they are local instead of online. There isn't any  behind-the-scenes footage or anything similar, so you are getting the extended version of the arcade game and nothing more.

The presentation is pretty solid overall. Graphically, Wrath of the Mutants perfectly translates the art style of the old Nickelodeon series, right down to the stylized proportions of each character. The animations are also quite good, and the environments sport some nice touches, like floor reflections and fire effects. It's pretty basic overall, which means that hitting high frame rates on low- to mid-range hardware is easy, and there's no support for ultrawide monitors, but it would've been nice to see more graphical options on tap to get rid of screen tearing.

As far as sound goes, the music is fine. It does a good job of emulating the soundtrack of the TV series, even if it's not memorable. The sound effects could use some balancing, as they tend to play louder than anything else, especially the menu selection sounds. The voices are the real treat, as every character is reprised by the cast members of the 2012 series, but it is a strange choice to have no voices for the final cut scene when the game had been very talkative up to that point.

Steam Deck users will find that the performance is fine on the device, but it seems to start at a lower-than-expected resolution by default. The highest you can go is 1280x720, and the black bars at the top and bottom of the screen aren't too distracting. There aren't many options to tweak, but the game has no issue hitting 60fps consistently, and a full charge will give the Steam Deck LCD edition roughly four hours of battery life, which provides plenty of time to beat the game several times over. The one knock is that cloud saves aren't supported; it isn't a big deal unless you want to start with the Hard difficulty level and haven't played on the device before.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade: Wrath of the Mutants isn't bad. The fighting system is quite good, and the additional stages and bosses do a good job of lengthening a very short game. It's fun, and those who were lucky enough to discover the arcade game will be pleased with this port. Those wanting to take the plunge into the title might want to hold off for a bit, unless you can find the title at a discount. The $30 sticker price for such a short experience can be off-putting, especially with only one mode available.

Score: 7.0/10

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