When I first heard the announcement that Turtles In Time was being remade for the Xbox Live Arcade, I literally jumped out of my chair for joy, as I’ve probably beaten the SNES version more times than any other beat ‘em up to date.
Imagine my surprise when I eventually found out it was not a remake of the Super Nintendo version, but the original arcade iteration. My enthusiasm subsided a bit due to the fact that the arcade version contained a handful of elements that made it less enjoyable than its compact counterpart. Read on to find out if Re-Shelled’s newly done 3D visuals do the console game justice, or if it contains the same pitfalls as the arcade game.
Graphically, Re-Shelled completely revamps the original style with 3D graphics, and replaces the classic 80′s Turtle designs with the “New Turtles”. Unfortunately, the result is less lively and actually feels rather bland. Instead of the Paul Hogan-esque Leatherhead the crocodile, you get a generic vest wearing update. In fact, the only redesign I actually enjoyed more than the original were the updated Pizza Aliens, that were redone to resemble the famous Ridley Scott feature film creations. Be warned! You will also not battle Shredder’s first person SNES tank in epic fashion. In fact, you won’t even actually visit The Technodrome.
The Arcade iteration sucks you in a time warp directly after the sewer level (no Rat King boss battle, either!). For that matter, there’s no Pirate Bebop or Rocksteady during the pirate level; you get an early and anti-climactic confrontation with Tokka and Rhazar. Instead of an epic Super Shredder battle, you get an awkward standard “Shredder with a light saber” encounter. As you can clearly see, efforts should have been made to just remake the SNES version instead.
The mid-level cinematic breaks are also more generic, and thus, less exciting to watch. In fact, I would actually argue the original intro and ending sequences are better looking, and less stiff than the Re-Shelled remakes. Additionally, powerups in the original were a classic heart shape on a pizza box: radiant and enticing. In Re-Shelled, they’re just a shadow of their former selves: bland boxed and un-boxed pizza.
Reshelled’s level design is also a step back from it’s predecessor. The original “Prehistoric Turtlesaurus” stage was a bastion of unique splashes of purple and teething with life. The redone level is orange, bland, and over before it starts. It also features the same classic mistake as the Arcade version in comparison to the SNES: showcasing Cement Man as the boss instead of an epic confrontation with Slash. In terms of the general look of the levels, the only locale that I felt was superior in Reshelled was Neon-Night Riders, due to the expanded futuristic highway setting and vibrant colors.
Gameplay wise, Turtles In Time: Re-Shelled is missing the charm of the original. The useful floaty double jump attack is missing, replaced with a rushed generic slash. Dashing is also an odd affair: in the original, you would double tap the movement button, which would clearly result in a dashing animation so you knew your turtle was hoofing it. Re-Shelled doesn’t change the animation at all, so if you want to use a dash attack, you have to assume that you’re running. Often times, I found myself slipping in and out of consciousness, wondering why nearly all of my attacks looked exactly the same. In fact, nearly all of the Turtle’s attacks, from character to character, feel strikingly similar.
Despite these unwelcome changes, Re-Shelled does put a relatively unique spin on typical beat ‘em up gameplay. Its saving grace is that the game adds a vertical plane, meaning you can attack upwards and downwards in addition to left and right. This also means enemies can do the same thing, which adds an entirely new dynamic to boss fights; no more plane glitching! Speaking of bosses, the actual encounters are a whole lot less fun. In the original, bosses would flash red, indicating they were low on health. Re-Shelled adds a fairly inaccurate life meter to the mix, meaning little physical alterations are made to the bosses’ character model as it nears death.
If the gameplay tweaks and aesthetic redesigns were the only changes made, the game wouldn’t have felt like that much of a downgrade; unfortunately, the entire soundtrack is gone. The classic Turtles In Time tunes were perhaps one of the greatest retro collections of all time. They’ve had numerous tributes, and some fans went as far as covering them with real instruments. While a few selections in Re-Shelled are remixed to vaguely resemble the original, nearly all of the new musical arrangements sound like they’ve been pulled from failed off-brand games. I have no idea whether or not Ubisoft could get the rights to the original songs, but it certainly would have helped, as you have no real motivation to make it through a level listening to painful generic rock.
Sound effects also suffer a similar fate. The original voice overs were classic, and made you feel like you were watching a Turtles cartoon right then and there. In Re-Shelled, characters sound rather generic, and their lines even sound rushed. When starting a level in the original, a voice would announce each stage in a memorable fashion; every Turtles In Time fan remembers the line “Big Apple……..3am!”.
The new announcer sounds like he wanted to get out of the studio as soon as possible; he doesn’t give you much of a reason to get excited for the level at hand when he’s rushing his lines. All of the other dialogue, including the Turtle’s lines, feel the same way. When you step on a spike trap, your hero would originally shout “My toe!” in a hilarious fashion, complete with his eyes bugging out of his head. Re-Shelled has a more awkward sounding cry of agony in place of a jovial shout, which really detracts from the fun factor.
From start to finish, Turtles In Time takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. After beating the game, you’ll unlock a level attack option and survival mode. At first, I thought perhaps the SNES one-on-one versus mode was included, or that “survival” meant an arena style mini-game similar to Castle Crashers. Come to find out, survival is just the same game with a limited amount of lives, and there was no versus mode to be found.
The only thing left for you to do upon completion is to either re-beat the game for achievements or go online with up to three other players. Sadly, the online component of the game (or offline, for that matter) doesn’t allow for pop-in arcade style play; you have to start the game from the beginning and complete it in it’s entirety, which may effect the amount of open rooms you’ll find at any given time. Also, if you host a game and the other players leave, you’ll get booted right back to the title screen.
All in all, Turtles In Time: Re-Shelled is a remake of an inferior version of the game, and fails to produce a unique personality of it’s own. A lot of Turtles In Time fans, myself included, will miss much of the trademark Turtles style that made the original so great. If you’ve never played the original, and are a huge fan of beat ‘em ups, you might enjoy Re-Shelled; otherwise, you need not apply.
Either you'll love the 3D graphics, or you'll hate them. The problem I found with the visuals is that they just lack personality.
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While some downgrades were made, overall the combat is pretty smooth. Be wary of becoming bored faster than the average beat 'em up, however.
When a game is set to be remade, usually the goal is to make the music superior to the original, if not equal in quality. Re-Shelled subsitutes the classic tunes of it's predecessor for generic rock tunes.
To my surprise, there weren't any extra modes included in the game, nor is the original anywhere to be found. Online play increases the experience, but not being able to "quarter up" mid game is disappointing.
Re-Shelled unfortunately suffers the same pitfalls as the arcade iteration, while adding some new problems to the mix.