The announcement of a new TMNT movie hitting the theatres set many fans hearts a-twitter at the thought of seeing the turtles ju-jitsu their way through bad guys once again. On the other hand, the thought of a new TMNT game hitting the consoles didn't have quite the same effect.
Like many movie tie-ins, the plot of the TMNT game deals with the events that occur during as well as a little before the TMNT movie, while adding in a few extra events here and there to make it more interesting. The plot of the game, starting from when Leonardo must go find himself and improve his leadership skills, is told from the point of view of the turtles and their master Splinter as they reminisce over the events of the film. The cinematics of the game are shown mostly through the use of a comic book style presentation, with scenes from the movie interspersed wherever appropriate.
The main gameplay itself is pretty solidly divided between fighting and platforming. The levels present a very linear path for you to follow, but it's never just by running. Throughout the game you'll be utilizing a slew of agile moves like running up and along walls, double jumps, swinging along poles, and so forth. The movement is pretty fluid and it's easy to run through a stage, doing all the aforementioned actions, without even breaking stride (except to fight). It'll probably remind many gamers of the recent Prince of Persia series, though not as robust in abilities, and the camera angles can often send your turtle plummeting down a pit. Don't worry though, death means little in TMNT when checkpoints are scattered liberally throughout the level. Whether or not this lack of difficulty is a bad thing is up to the player, and by the ease of the game, it's pretty obvious it's meant for the younger audiences.
The combat element of the game is less refined. Much less. At certain points in the levels a bunch of enemies will suddenly appear, seemingly from nowhere, jumping into an enclosed area that you can't leave until you've defeated them all. The game gives you little options in combat, allowing you either a normal attack, a jump attack, or a spin attack. Most combat results in you just repetitively attacking towards your opponents until all enemies are dead. Defeating enough enemies without getting hit sends you into a powerful slow-motion mode where a single hit is all that is required to take down an opponent. This is admittedly kind of cool to watch, but when combat is as easy as this, it is completely unnecessary. The whole experience is mindless, requiring almost no thought whatsoever, as your enemies tend to wait in front of you passively while you beat the custard out of their friends. The difficulty is nonexistent, and the fact that you can't die (if you lose all your health, you just shake your remote to restore it) makes it even more pointless.
Combat is where the Wiimote's potential is used, and also where its flaws are revealed. Attacking is bad enough. It's like button mashing, only now your wrist hurts. Still there are often times when your turtle will suddenly enter a crouching state, which signifies that your turtle is about to perform a 'Warp Slash', a move that attacks each enemy once. To activate this stance, you need to turn the Wiimote sideways, which is alright, but there are times your turtle will crouch even when the Wiimote is not turned. When this happens, you can't attack, can't move, and can only jump. There's no explanation as to why this happens, and it happens constantly, for random periods, whether you're in combat or running down a path that's falling apart. And it's irritating.
Now, if the movie is about anything, it's about the power of family, and TMNT is no different. Except for a few levels where a turtle plays solo, as you make jumps and perform moves, your brothers will be impressed, and a "Brother Bond" meter will fill. Once it fills, another brother will join you, and you'll be able to switch between them or use their abilities in battle and on the field. The difference between the turtles is more than just cosmetic, though not by a whole lot. Each has a different feel in combat - Raphael, for example is powerful but not very accurate with his swings, while Michelangelo is fast but is very weak - as well as abilities that can be harnessed while running through the levels, like Donatello's ability to pole-vault over long gaps. Each of these talents is necessary to get through the obstacles in the game.
But running through levels and just beating up bad guys is not all there is to the game. Beating levels with good scores (based on how fast you finished, how many hits you took, how many coins you found along the way, and how strong your bond was with the others) factors into a grade that can unlock new Challenge Maps and, exclusive to the Wii, minigames. Additionally, you'll also gain a certain number of tokens out of a maximum of five. With these tokens, a variety of unlockables await. You can purchase special features, fun additions to the game like a big head for each of the turtles or special weapons (Mikey's wiffle-nunchuks are my favourite), or you can view images and videos, most dealing with the movie and the game, some just there to make you chuckle.
The Challenge Maps are exactly what they sound like: challenges that you are to overcome. Most of them involve getting a turtle from point A to point B in a wireframe-styled world while a clock counts the time you take. If you do it fast enough, you earn one to three tokens, simple as that. The minigames for the Wii use the control in unique ways for each of the siblings. As examples, in Donatello's minigame, you need to pump the Wiimote and the Nunchuk in an alternating manner as he sprints across the screen, jumping at the right time to avoid pitfalls and walls, and in Leonardo's, you need to fire shurikens at targets, pointing with the Wiimote and firing by moving the nunchuk. It's kind of a shame that this functionality wasn't used in the actual game, as it might've added a lot more fun to it.
While the addition of unlockable content doesn't really add much to the game, the minigames and challenge maps are enjoyable breaks from the story mode of the game, especially for those that like a challenge or two. There's also something to be said about mastering each game and map. Additionally, running through each of the story levels a second time allows you to collect even more tokens - five to a level - scattered throughout the route. The option to obtain every token in the game is a choice that will likely appeal to some.
The graphics in the game follow the style of the movie, more or less, and are decent. The sound is also alright, or at least the music is. While the voice acting isn't bad, constant cries of "Amazing!" and "Totally awesome, dude!" every time you hop a jump and climb a wall tend to get really old, really fast.
As a whole, TMNT has taken a different approach from previous Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle titles by having a large focus of the title on platforming elements which, judging by some of the results of previous titles, is probably a good thing, but not enough. Though the running and jumping portion of the game is pretty decent, the fighting is monotonous and repetitive, and is just plain dull. For the Wii version, while the game attempts to use the capabilities of the Wiimote, with the exception of the unlockable challenges it doesn't do this well at all, and will just result in sore wrists instead of sore thumbs. So, with boring combat, poor controls, and a lack of difficulty, there's really not much here for anyone over the age of ten, and even that might be a little high.