The TMNT GBA game definitely isn't great, and can't hold a candle to the fun and boundary-pushing romps that were the original two arcade games, but I also don't think it's nearly bad enough to merit the "F"-level grades I've seen some of the professional media outlets give it.

It's a side-scrolling action game that mixes up elements from the arcade beat-em-ups and the maligned NES title that scrolled on a flat plane and featured more precision obstacle-jumping and almost Mega Man-esque gameplay than the arcade brawlers. This version is based on the TMNT revival of 7 or 8 years ago, so it features more anime-tinged artwork than the original cartoon series, and also many of the famous villains look significantly different and/or have somewhat different roles. Which all really boil down to "make turtle soup" in the end, so meh.

Each of the four turtles has their own set of four levels to work through, mostly beat-em-up / jumping contests. Each one also gets a vehicle-based bonus level that hearkens back to other Konami arcade classics; Donatello has a hang-glider level that is reminiscent of shooters like Gradius, Leonardo drives through the sewers in a scene reminiscent of the Aliens arcade game, etc. Once all four turtles have completed all of their four levels, you unlock a couple of final levels where you square off against the game's main bosses with your choice of turtle.

Turtle control is generally pretty good with a decent range of moves, though response can be a bit more sluggish than you'd like. There's a rudimentary combo/air juggle system, and each turtle has a special ability, usually jumping or climbing related - Raphael can climb walls with his sai, Mikey can double-jump and triangle-jump off walls, Donatello can pole-vault higher than anyone else and launch himself across long gaps.

The biggest issue with the game is simply lack of content. Each level only lasts about 5 minutes at absolute most, and the game is strongly pitched toward younger kids, meaning the difficulty level is low and you get infinite continues (in addition to saving automatically after every level.) The game unfortunately tries to pad out the overall length with rather lengthy and boring "talking head" cutscenes that develop the typical cartoon-caliber plot in between levels. And the game has no sort of multi-player modes.

The game looks nice and sounds decent for the most part, and the gameplay is largely OK, but the level design and set-pieces don't have a very inspired feel, and that combined with the very short length means only the most die-hard of Turtleheads should really bother tracking it down.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video

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