Brawl in a Half-Shell: A Review of TMNT Smash-Up

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TMNT Smash Up Cover

Haven't I seen this game before somewhere...?

No Ubisoft. This is not how you make a Ninja Turtles game. You had a good concept going for a while. “Take the developers from Super Smash Bros Brawl and have them make a TMNT game to celebrate the Turtles’ 25th Anniversary.” Yes, good concept. But then we get a game that fails to understand what exactly makes Brawl such a successful game: It does justice to the source material.

TMNT Smash-Up for the Nitendo Wii will make you want to play Brawl, pure and simple. You’ll think you’re watching Brawl with new characters whenever you watch footage of gameplay. You’ll wonder when the Smash Ball comes out and what Leonardo will do when he picks it up. Do yourself a favor and just go play Brawl, because there isn’t much to offer fans of either Smash Bros-style gameplay or those in love with the Ninja Turtles. I fit into both categories and I wasn’t satisfied by either aspect.

It’s All About The Characters

Simply put, a game touting a concept like Brawl and the claim that it’s celebrating 25 years of Turtle Power dang well better include exactly one metric ton of characters. Instead we get…16, and three of those are Rabbids. What is a Rabbid? They are Ubisoft’s shovelware mascots, and what they’re doing in my Turtle game is beyond me. One, that’s understandable, but three? When you only have 16 total characters? And you have 25 years of Turtle history to pick from? What, did you get lazy? Did you forget about the entire 80’s cartoon? The movies before the CGI TMNT? The ACTION FIGURES?!

Wait, I've seen this game before...haven't I?

No seriously, I'm sure I've seen this game before?

Playable characters: The four Turtles, Splinter, Shredder, April, Casey Jones, a Foot Ninja, Karai, (Shredder’s daughter for those not watching the current show), Nightwatcher, (Raphael’s alter ego from the new movie), Fugitoid, (from the original comic, the new show, and action figures, so YAY), and Utrominator, (based somewhat off of Krang and his species, the Utroms). And that’s it save for the three Rabbids. No, I don’t consider that a spoiler.

The spoiler is the characters not included by Ubisoft, including Usagi Yojimbo, Bebop, Rocksteady, Baxter Stockman, The Rat King, Leatherhead, Tokka, Rahzar, Ace Duck, Genghis Frog, Ray Fillet, Slash, Hun, Super Shredder, or a Triceraton. And that’s just off the top of my head. That comprises a nice grouping from the original cartoon, the new cartoon, the movies, and the action figures. Ubisoft dropped the ball there, or better yet, they dropped the Smash Ball there.

Plays Like a More Popular Game

So gameplay, let’s talk about it. Gameplay isn’t too pitiful. You will feel a bit like the characters can float too much, but otherwise combat is solid and play control works well. You are able use the Wiimote, the Nunchuk attachment, or just a GameCube controller. Basically, you can use Brawl’s control-scheme. Just like Brawl, “smashing” the control stick with a button press will result in a stronger attack, but the goal in Smash-Up isn’t to knock players out of the ring but rather to whittle their health down to a KO, so a heavy attack will just stun your opponent and knock them to the ground. When you’re knocked down, you’ll stay on the ground a lot longer than you’d like.

Crocodile hazards are never cool, unless they happen to someone other than myself.

Crocodile hazards are never cool, unless they happen to someone other than myself.

Stages are fairly well done. It is impressive to see what every stage does as most stages don’t just have the one area but actually break away to new sections of the same stage, so fights aren’t exactly stagnant in that regard. The only downside is that the stages have borderline nothing to do with the Ninja Turtles. There is a rooftop stage and a sewer stage, a stage with the Technodrome in the background, a stage in a jungle similar to some scenes in the CG TMNT…uh…a Japanese pagoda stage? And that’s about all that connects to the Turtles. Everything else is just…there. Cool stages, like a sinking ship or a train, but what does this have to do with the Turtles? It all came down to Ubisoft once again not using the property to the fullest regard.

I’m surprised Ubisoft didn’t just pick other characters from their popular franchises and throw them in, just to make a Ubisoft-themed brawler instead. Altair from Assassin’s Creed, Sam Fisher from Splinter Cell, the Prince from Prince of Persia, and Rayman from the Rayman series all would have been cool to add. They might as well if they’re going to just toss in three Rabbids for the heck of it.

Yeah I'm sick of this image, too.

Yeah I'm sick of this image, too.

If you couldn’t guess, I was extremely disappointed with TMNT Smash-Up. For kids, yeah, they’ll probably enjoy it. For fans of Brawl, don’t worry; this won’t overshadow Brawl in any way. For Turtle fans, sorry, your game still hasn’t been made. This is strictly a free rental game. Don’t even pay $8 to rent it. Make someone else rent it for you if you need to play it, but I warned you, you’ll just want to play Brawl.

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About Author

Chris was the former Head Writer/Editor of Toy-TMA. He did a great job overseeing the site and getting new content published regularly. Always more than willing to respond to a comment or two, but pitiless with trolls! He has since moved on from TMA, and we wish him the best.

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