E3: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows First Impressions

Out of the recent comic book heroes to make a splash in the world, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles may have been re-invented the most. After countless cartoons, games, shows, movies, and comic books, there’s almost no stone left unturned for these characters. They’re currently enjoying a new life as a 3D animated series on Nickelodeon which is where the latest video game “Out of the Shadows” comes in.

What is peculiar about “Out of the Shadows” is that it seems to carry the continuity of the new series, including the voice actors for the turtles and April, but also wants to maintain a visual style that is reminiscent of darker interpretations of the characters. Instead of brightly-colored levels, players will find themselves in dark alleys with only a few street lamps providing light and stark colors sporadically throughout the levels. It’s a strange visual interpretation given its roots in the child-friendly series.

The demo we played featured two levels, the first of which was a simple enough attack on the “Purple Dragon clan” in a back alley. The “Out of the Shadows” controls are pretty simple with just “attack,” “kick,” “block,” and “jump” being your only attack options. These buttons can all be combined to provide simple-to-execute combos wherein the turtles pull off moves that you always tried out with your action figures. Players can also switch between any of the turtles at any time, provided they’re not playing cooperatively which is likely where most fans will have fun playing the game.

The second level in the demo featured the turtles sneaking into Baxter Stockman’s laboratory and fighting against the robotic Mousers and the Foot Clan. Baxter’s Laboratory shows how they’re able to pull this amalgamation of turtles interpretations. With voice acting that is from the latest cartoon series, level design that is straight out of the Eastman and Laird’s original, and a cell-shaded color scheme, it’s a new brand of TMNT. Whether this set-up actually works for the duration of the game remains to be seen. The two levels we played felt fine, but others could differ.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows offers simple gameplay with unique visuals and creative level design. Where it falters is in the confusion of what brand of Ninja Turtles it’s going for. The level designs are really cool, but it feels out of place when held up to the voice work and faux comic book place holders instead of cinematics. Fans may enjoy it as it certainly unlike any other TMNT game out there, and with its $15 price tag it will likely be more worth buying than other comic book games this year.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows will soon be available on the PlayStation Store, Xbox Live and Steam. You can watch the announcement trailer below: