Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade: Wrath of the Mutants – PS5 Review

Going to arcades these days is a very weird experience. In my child brain I still think I’m going to find games I’ll recognise there. I’m very often mistaken and a little disappointed. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade: Wrath of the Mutants is, as luck would have it, a port of Raw Thrills’ 2017 arcade title. With Cradle Games on hand to assist with bringing this to consoles, the arcade experience is faithfully intact with two extra stages. Unfortunately, the transition to the small screen hasn’t helped at all.

There are six stages in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade: Wrath of the Mutants. The locations are varied but feel very standard for the genre. There’s your token sewer level, a New York City level, an amusement park level and a couple that feel more extra terrestrial in design. You can tackle them in any order which did deprive me the sense of an actual journey. These stages aren’t linked up with cutscenes or story progression so they can feel very disjointed.

Often concessions are made when bringing arcade titles to consoles. The original cabinet asked you to complete the game with whatever credits you had on hand. Levels would be completed one after the other and your lives would remain as they were at the end of the previous stage. In this port, you have the leniency of stages giving you 3 lives by default and a couple of continues. It really waters down the challenge. Hard mode is available but you unlock it after completing normal difficulty. Mutliplayer remains strictly local with some basic leaderboard support.

The premise never evolves beyond April being kidnapped and in need of rescuing. Complete all these stages and the final Shredder stage will be unlocked. Each stage takes about 10-15 minutes to complete and, as such, none of them feel that special. There some specific enemy types and the occasional stage-specific interlude. Unfortunately, the repetitive combat results in foes being dispatched in the same manner.

The four heroes in a half-shell come with their signature weaponry but their moves remain the same. You have basic strikes, jump attacks and spin attacks to execute. The latter is good for crowd control and jump attacks do well to dispatch charging foes. Other than that, the combat is easy to grasp and very rarely complicates the matter. Encounters do mix up the enemy composition but I found the more dangerous elements easy to single out.

The combat feels competent but not particularly exciting. Dealing damage does build up a turtle power meter. Once that’s full, you have access to a screen-clearing super attack that, whilst effective, animates in the same manner each time. They are specific to each turtle but you deal enough damage to see it 3 or more times a stage. It’s not something I felt the need to hold on to unless a boss fight was forthcoming.

Power ups come in a few varieties. The shell works similarly to the turtle power. It doesn’t quite have a full-screen effect but you can direct your chose turtle to bowl enemies out of contention. It’s effective and can clear a wave quickly. A step above that are other characters you can call upon like Metalhead. Once again, it’s a wide-ranging attack your companion can pull off and it feels very turtle-power adjacent. Finally, there’s a smokescreen you can pick up and deploy to get the drop on enemies.

These additions come up a few times in levels so you’ll see them all. They do perform very similar roles so it’s a shame more wasn’t done to differentiate them. I guess when most fights become an exercise in clearing the road ahead, they all do a sufficient job. One downside to the combat is a lack of defensive options. Jumping seems to be the only means of avoiding enemy fire and you have no block to call upon. As such, you will trade damage during encounters. I suppose that is in-keeping with the arcade approach and it’s not like I found lives to be a problem.

The presentation is very bare bones. Cutscenes are often single comic book panels rather than using in-game assets. The aesthetics come from the more modern cartoons which and old man like me can’t quite adjust to. The models can look a little rough up close but the bigger crime is how bland the environments look a little bland. I did say there was variety to them but the palettes used just don’t pop. The action is at least punctuated by comic-style exclamations but they can get in the way of the fights. With a full house of players on one screen, things can get really cluttered.

The soundtrack didn’t grab my attention either but the sounds of fighting often overpowers it. A turtle power attack does quicken the tempo but it felt firmly entrenched into the background. Voiced quips are in short supply. There’s no alternative takes for the characters so lines will repeat all too often.

Taking this game out of the arcade removes a lot of the stakes that came with it. The two new stages can’t really stretch out the slim offering. Without any new playable characters or interesting modes, you’re left with a game not at home on a console. Combat is at least mildly entertaining but the presentation feels bare. I don’t think this is a great arcade game but it’s clearly much more palatable in it’s natural setting.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Wrath of the Mutants
5 Overall
+ Simple and occasionally enjoyable brawling.
+ Special attacks are abundant and flashy.
+ The two extra stages deliver some interesting locations.
- A short campaign, even with the two additional levels.
- Presentation feels slight and a little cheap.
- Struggles to pose a challenge.
- Doesn't feel well-suited to the home.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade: Wrath of the Mutants does not breathe easy outside of an arcade setting. The short campaign loses any risk when you're given plentiful lives at the start of each stage. Whilst the new areas are welcome, they don't make the package feel any more complete. In the comforts of home, every imperfection comes into stark realisation. The slim presentation, the decent but ultimately safe combat and the overall small package makes this tough to recommend.

About Mike

Mike gets all the racing games because he understands that stuff even though he doesn't drive.

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