COLUMN: Aaron's Backstage Pass: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' 3DS Review

Updated: 10/31/2013 3:15 PM By: Aaron Chalich

Photo courtesy of Activision.
Photo courtesy of Activision.

I am a huge fan of the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” I grew up watching the cartoons and had all of the toys and video games.

This past week I got the opportunity to play a review copy of Activision’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT)” on the Nintendo 3DS. I really think that “TMNT” is awesome, and it brought back a lot of great memories of playing “TMNT” in the arcade and also on the NES.

“TMNT” is based on the new Nickelodeon TV series, and the animation is really unique because the entire show is CGI animated and the characters look really cool.

In Activision’s “TMNT,” Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Donatello are back, and they are on a brand-new mission to stop the evil Shredder and Kraang who are trying to start a war in Manhattan.?? It is now up to the TMNT to try and stop them and the many other dangerous enemies in this amazing side-scrolling beat 'em-up. I thought the story was okay.  It was not too elaborate, and it was pretty simple but it was good. Fans of the TMNT will really enjoy it.

The graphics look great, and the turtles and characters look exactly like they do in the Nickelodeon animated show.  The cuts scenes are really well done.The 3D is very impressive and looks amazing.  It really adds to the gameplay.

The controls are extremely easy to learn and anyone can pick up the game and play.  You push the “Y” button to attack, “B” jumps, “X” throws enemies, “A’ does a special attack and “L” &”R” throw special items like Shurikens and smoke bombs.

I really liked how you could throw enemies into items like dumpsters and into crates to break them. I also really liked how if you push down and “X” to throw you can throw the enemy at the screen and they fly into it and slide down.  You could do this in the original “TMNT: Arcade Game,” so it was cool to see that move make a comeback.

As you are playing, all four turtles are on the screen at the same time, and they are AI controlled.  At any time, you can switch between the four turtles by pushing the D-pad or by touching the turtle you want to play as on the bottom touch screen.

I was kind of disappointed with the AI turtles, because they do not do much when you are not controlling them. They just walk around with you, and they may hit an enemy here and there, so they are not very helpful at all.

There are a few items scattered around the game that you can find and collect.  There are tons of pizza slices and pizza boxes that will refill your health. There are also weapons that you can find like the shurikens, smoke bombs, and flash bombs. Then there are energy shards that are hidden in crates and are left behind when enemies are defeated. These can be used to upgrade the TMNT’s powers. Another thing that you can collect is mutagen canisters.  There are a certain amount hidden in each level, and they will unlock bonus games and modes (Mini Game, Time Attack, & Survival Mode). Before you play a level, you can see how many there are and you can go back to replay a level if you missed one so that’s nice.

Each of the four TMNT has their own special powers and attacks. For example if you jump and press “X” Leonardo will do a jump kick and Michelangelo jumps and spins his nunchucks.  In between missions you can go to a menu and upgrade each of the four turtles depending on how many energy shards you have. You can make their attacks stronger or increase their defense so they don’t take as much damage when they get hit.

The game is laid out in a map where you can choose where you want to go. There are 16, action-packed levels that are all very challenging. In order to advance, you have to beat the previous level. You can go back and play any of the previous levels to get more energy shards and to find some of the hidden canisters you may have missed. 

In some of the levels, there are areas where you will have to activate a hidden switch.  An icon will flash on the screen, and then once you press “R,” you will have to move the 3DS around until you find the hidden spot. Once you find it you press “X” and a hidden item will appear.  It could be energy shards or a mutagen canister.

There is also a leaderboard for every level.  You get points depending on how many enemies you defeat.  You also get points for doing combos.  The more hits you get in a row without getting hit, the more points you get.  At the end of the level, you can put in your initials and other players can see if they can beat your high score on that level. I really liked how all of the classic TMNT characters are in “TMNT.”  However some of them look really different and I thought that was neat to see.

I was also glad to see that mousers were in the game along with a bunch of new enemies.  It seems like in every level a new enemy is introduced, and I thought that was great because you were not fighting the same four enemies in every level.

Activision’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” for the Nintendo 3DS is an extremely fun game.  The 3D looks amazing, and the controls are smooth and very easy to learn. I really liked how there were many familiar characters and that there were also new enemies. The bonus games were fun to play, and I liked how you could upgrade the TMNT’s powers.  I know that fans of the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" are really going to enjoy this game a lot.

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” is rated “E” for comic mischief and fantasy violence.

Aaron Chalich is an entertainment columnist with