TMNT: Danger of the Ooze is set between season 2 and 3 of the popular Nickelodeon TV series, and the Shredder is once again causing havoc among the city of New York in his on-going pursuit for power and control. Often armed with his loyal Foot Clan and unorthodox partnership with the Krang, Shredder now was his army of mutants running rampant across the city and it’s up to Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo to put an end to his devious plans. But in order to do so, the Turtle gang must find the mutagen aka ooze before Shredder and his gang does. With the likes of April O’Neil, Casey Jones and of course master Splinter, can the gang save New York City? Of course they can, we are talking about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles here!
It may be easy not to cut last gen games some slack in this department, with the visual spoils of the new gen era. Like many gamers and fans of my age, I’ve been a fan of the awesome TMNT since the very beginning when it all started in the mid-ish 80’s. Since the great original series, we’ve had many animated series adaptations of TMNT; many had struggled to capture that spark which the original possesses (other than the great arcade game and Turtles in Time). So when Nickelodeon came up with another new spin in 2012, I was instantly hooked, I loved its humour, wacky storylines, its own versions of characters that we have longed loved and of course I totally dig its art style.
So I was very pleased to not only see a TMNT retail game come to the PS3 at long last, but I was also over the moon when I heard that it would be in the style of the Nickelodeon series. I know TMNT: Out of the Shadows claimed to follow that series, but in my humble opinion, I really didn’t like its art style, let alone that god awful camera. While Danger of the Ooze doesn’t exactly replicate what we see on Nickelodeon, considering that this isn’t a big budget title, it does a pretty decent job. Ok, so the textures are nowhere near as detailed as you’d perhaps want and the facial animation during in-game cutscenes are pretty much none existent, but it is instantly recognisable with its style and charm, something that fans of the series regardless of their age, will perhaps appreciate at some level.
Now let’s get on to the core essential of this game, which just about applies for any game, the gameplay. Forget what you experienced with TMNT: Out of the Shadows, as Danger of the Ooze plays very differently in respect that it’s a side-scrolling, platforming beat ‘em’ up. The combat itself is very hack ‘n’ slash, very easy to pick up and play, which may helps it appeal to a wider audience, something that a game such as this needs, considering gamers of various ages maybe considering to pick up this game. I would say its far more button bashing friendly, as this will be your key tactic throughout. TMNT: Danger of the Ooze does have a block button however, but I think other then the opening training sections, I didn’t have much of a need to use it. Which is a good thing actually, because the block move is pretty useless and jumping/slashing is my preferred method of avoiding damage.
While each Turtle doesn’t feel all that distinct from the last, they do have their own personal traits. For example Donatello maybe a little slower, but has range with his bow staff. Raphael has very little range with his sai’s, but he will inflict slightly more damage. Leonardo feels more of an all-rounder wielding his samurai swords and Michelangelo seems to be a little quicker than his teenage brothers. Similarities that the Turtle gang will have, is with their special moves called the Shell Kick. The Shell Kick move will vary depending on the Turtle, but they will all be performed by holding down the attack button following each combat mash. You will have four Shell Kicks for each Turtle which are assigned to the up, down, left and right directions.
Each of the Turtles Shell Kick moves can be upgraded by earning XP and then you choose during the in-game menu which move you’d like to upgrade. You will also upgrade many of your basic moves as you progress through the story, so too will you find new gadgets and upgrades to carry more weapons, such as your shurikens and grenade type weapons that will allow you to teleport through certain walls. As I’ve briefly mentioned, Danger of the Ooze is in the side-scrolling format, which may please the old school gamer, but so too for the younger gamer that may not be suited to open-world type games. The game is perhaps less linear then you might expect, as long as you have the required upgrade, you are pretty much free to explore its game world as you please, whether it’s up on the streets/rooftops of New York or down in the sewers. There is a map to assist you, which is quite reliable (yet I still managed to get lost on more than one occasion), but you should get use to it pretty early on.
More often than not, if you choose to explore, that is when you will find most hidden upgrades. Scattered throughout the map will also be meditation rooms, which allows you to save your progress. Which despite me always being in the habit of saving regularly, upon death (or I should say respawn as you don’t actually die in this game), I did grow frustrated when being respawned far away from when I had died (so to speak). I’ve already mentioned that you don’t technically die in this game, but in essence you do have four lives which are represented by each of the four Turtles. By pressing the left shoulder button, you will bring up a selection wheel that will allow you to choose your preferred Turtle for that time. You can switch between each Turtle as and when you wish, so long as they have some degree of health in their bar. A handy tactic that I found was that when a Turtle was running low, I would then switch to a Turtle with more health and when I’d come across some Pizza (which tops up your health), I would switch the to the Turtle with a low heath bar, grab the pizza and switch back to the more healthy Turtle, until in theory all four of my Turtles are fighting fit.
When your Turtle runs out of health, they will be “captured”. It will then be up to you to find your Turtle brother somewhere hidden within the map. This can be a ballache to begin with, but quite early on in the game, you will acquire an upgrade that reveals a captured Turtles location on the map. Like many platformer games, they all tend to have the usual issues with jumps not quite reacting to your button press and making slight contact with an enemy (without attacking) can make you lose health despite them not actually attacking you. Fans of platformers will be familiar with seemingly unfair health loss for simply walking into another character. Yes, no matter how long these problems have been an issue over the years, they will always annoy the hell out of me, but part of me sadly expects it somewhat (which makes the best programmed platform games all that more pleasant). Though the one element that annoys me most of all about this game, which you’d think would be an absolute given is four player co-op. Sadly TMNT: Danger of the Ooze features no multiplayer of any kind, which is not only an obvious missed opportunity, but it’s also a dam shame.
The cast that star in the Nickelodeon series reprise their roles in TMNT: Danger of the Ooze, with the exception of Jason Biggs (Leonardo) who is voiced by Dominic Catrambone in this game. This likely has something to do with Jason Biggs no longer voicing Leo from season three, who has now been replaced with by Seth Green. There’s nothing I hate more in a tie-in videogame when impersonators are brought in to replace the original cast members. That may seem a little bit harsh, because a lot of impersonators do a sound job, but whether it’s a TV series or movie, devoted fans will always tell the difference. In terms of the soundtrack, it will no doubt put smiles on the fans faces when the Nickelodeon TV series theme tune hits during the opening credits. That’s as good as the soundtrack gets unfortunately, as the one that features during gameplay feels a little bit random and is just there to provide some background noise. So in that respect, it would have been nice to have taken some samples from the TV series and implement them into the game, to add a little more authenticity.
I have to admit it, as much as I try not to be, I’m a little bit bias when it comes to TMNT. This slight bias over the years has let me down, with my somewhat unrealistic expectations. So before playing this game, while I had some hopes, I had already set my expectations for the game very low. This in hindsight has probably aided my enjoyment of the game. In all fairness, if this was a platformer with a theme that I did not care about, I doubt that I would really enjoy this game all that much (as harsh as that sounds). So with Nickelodeons TMNT theme, humour and charm, it already earns some minor plus points for fans of the TV series. With that in mind, I would only recommend this game to fans of the series.
In recent times I’ve played some pretty lazy tie-ins, funnily enough recently they’ve both been from Activision with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark. Thankfully TMNT: Danger of the Ooze in my opinion is not to the sub-standards of Transformers: ROTDS, but it’s not quite as good as TASM2. Some websites have TMNT: Danger of the Ooze selling at £30, which I believe is a little too high, even for the most devoted of fans. If you shop about, you can pick up this game for just over £20, which seems a little fairer, but obviously that price will inevitably drop pre-release as time passes.
In a nutshell or should I say turtleshell, do not set your expectations to high for this game, and by doing so, you might just enjoy it and I have to say that I’ve enjoyed this game more then Out of the Shadows. Sure it’s a game that is not going to win any technical awards (or any awards for that matter), but as a dad in his 30’s, I’ve enjoyed sharing this game with my son, something that has been exclusive to the Lego franchise in my household. But regardless of my low hopes that I may have had for this game, the TMNT geek within will always have high hopes for a quality new-gen instalment based upon the awesome Nickelodeon series.
+ Looks like the Nickelodeon TV series (to a certain standard)
+ Features the opening theme tune from the Nickelodeon TV series
+ Majority of the TV series cast reprise their roles
+ Easy to pick up and play
+ 2D environment is perhaps a little less linear then expected
- No 4 player co-op
- Gameplay can quickly become repetitive
- Awful lip sync during game
- Next to pointless soundtrack during gameplay