Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Melee
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles brings back a lot of memories. 'Cowabunga'? is the first word that comes to mind when I think fondly of the heroes in a half-shell, followed thereafter by 'radical'? and 'tubular'?. Lately, though, it seems like someone out there is trying to ruin the best of my childhood memories surrounding the Ninja Turtles with middling 3D beat-em-ups like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Melee, proving once and for all that there is nothing sacred in this world?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Melee is something like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles meets PowerStone or Super Smash Bros. Melee, but well, just not as much fun. After choosing the turtle or non-turtle of your choice, weird as some of them may be (who knew April O'Neil could dish out the punishment?), you battle it out in constantly changing fields of battle filled with power ups and interactive items. The thing is the core of Mutant Melee, the awkward and lifeless combat, is no different from the core of the other Ninja Turtle titles. Instead of revamping the entire game, which they probably should've done, the developers of Mutant Melee instead changed the gameplay format; they simply threw on a new gloss, if you will.
And truth be told, it kinda works. Segmenting off the action helps kill off the redundant nature of beat-em-up, since the environments and arenas are always different and the situations varied, and it's admittedly more entertaining than running from room to room killing the same things over and over. Now, that doesn't necessarily make Mutant Melee particularly engaging, because it all gets old pretty fast, but it's much more tolerable than the past two Ninja Turtle titles.
Even so, the combat needs a serious revamp. There's no weight behind it, no oomph when you knock down an enemy, nothing that feels like your attacks are solidly connecting. I felt so disconnected from the action that I failed to care after a while.
However, if there's one thing that illustrates that Mutant Melee is just a simple cash-in, it's the fact that Mutant Melee looks exactly the same as the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle game that appeared on this generation of consoles. Sure, it flied back then because cel-shading was still new and exciting, but now, it's old hat and Mutant Melee just fails to impress on any visual level.
To succinctly sum up Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Melee, you need to find an early 90's catchphrase and qualify it. It's sort of "righteous", a little "tubular", and a bit "wicked", but certainly not a culmination of the three. It's just passable, really, but I don't think Master Splinter would approve wholeheartedly, even with a decent price point of $20.