One of the great joys of first signing up to Xbox Live (for me, anyway) was Xbox Live Arcade and the range of classic arcade games from my childhood that I could now download and play in my lounge. Among the first that I downloaded was the arcade-perfect port of the 1989 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game. I love it, but I acknowledge that my enthusiasm for the game is largely fuelled by nostalgia. The recent re-release of its sequel on Xbox Live Arcade has simply confirmed this. I never played the original version of Turtles in Time in its day, and thus it doesn’t hold the same dear place in my heart – and subsequently my Xbox Live Arcade library – that its predecessor does.
This is rather telling, because it’s essentially the same basic gameplay: up to four players control a turtle of their choosing and fight their way through waves of Foot Soldiers through varied side-scrolling 2D environments. This time around, however, you’ve all been teleported to different eras in history, so you’ll fight your way through a prehistoric dinosaur- infested marshland, a pirate ship and a futuristic hoverboard sequence, among others. You have two different attack buttons and a jump button with which to avoid and dispense the multitude of enemies you’ll encounter. There are pizzas littered throughout the environments that provide you with health or a powerful spinning attack that can be used to dispatch all enemies on-screen.
It’s even been retouched in 3D with new and improved HD artwork, a luxury that its predecessor didn’t enjoy in its re-release. And it really does look rather nice. But at the end of the day, it is still just another generic side-scrolling beat-‘em-up from the ‘90s. And aesthetics aside, Turtles in Time just doesn’t offer anything new enough to distance it from the original title. It does shine, however, when the full roster of turtles is present with four gamers at the controls, purely for the social aspect. And in all honesty, I think that’s the only scenario in which I’ll realistically play this again.