Endless running in a half-shell, Turtle Power!
When it comes to endless runners, players are often made to feel afraid; after all, you're typically being chased by something or someone, and your objective is often to keep away from it for as long as you possibly can. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rooftop Run breaks away from this dynamic, however, and is all the better for it.
That isn't to say you aren't still running from something, as a Kraang ship is in hot pursuit the entire time, and if it catches you (or if you fall), then it's game over. Even so, though the player is being chased, the player also gets to fight a lot as well, and it works better here than in any other sample of the genre this reviewer has played to date.
As you run across the rooftops of New York City, you'll encounter Foot ninja... lots of Foot ninja. Simple taps of the screen allow you to jump and evade them, or tapping again while in close proximity will deliver either a jumping kick (if you're in the air) or an attack from your character's weapons. In some instances, you can even hold on the screen to do a cool run along the walls of the background to gain elevation and reach higher levels.
All the while, you're collecting green orbs which help increase your stamina, and things switch up occasionally as you enter "Turtle Time," which allows you to get more up-close and personal with the Foot through tapping prompts on the screen to deftly counterattack your numerous assailants. If you do fall, get caught, or are otherwise defeated, you might have a chance to spin the wheel in the pizza time mini-game to get such bonuses as extra coins, or being placed back where you were when you fell to continue.
It takes a little getting used to at first, but once you do, this game plays like a dream. There were constantly points where we felt like "this is it" and expected to have to begin again, but then we were surprised and got to keep going, either by our Turtle catching a ledge and pulling himself up or some other means. And honestly, it feels a lot more fun this way.
While you're well-set at the start, you can still use your earned or bought in-game currency to purchase weapon and costume upgrades, as well as power-ups to improve your performance even further. The downside here-- and honestly, this is where we're docking the half-point off of a perfect score for this game-- is the simple fact that there are four Turtles, yet you're only allowed to use Leonardo until you acquire the in-game sum needed to unlock each other Turtle.
We've been playing TMNT games for over 20 years now, and let us just tell you: That feels wrong. Especially when they clearly have designs set on other characters more suitable for unlocking-- the mutant Akita Dogpound is already in the game, waiting for the price to be paid to unleash his strength. Why he'd be fighting his own allies is anyone's guess, but that leaves the door open for such characters as Karai, Fish Legs, and even the Shredder himself to be unlockables, to say nothing of Turtle allies April, Splinter, or Metalhead, each of which would make sense for the asking price.
But for the other three eponymous heroes, when everyone has their own favorite? That's just crossing the line into pure greed, especially when you're already being asked to pay $2 for the experience.
Still, as we said, it is a very good experience. Augmenting the gameplay are a mix of in-game visuals which look like they came straight from the Nickelodeon television show and comic-styled cutscenes, each accompanied by-- near as we can tell-- the same voice actors who bring the characters to life every week.
With all of this together, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rooftop Run is a must-have for any fan of the new cartoon, save for those who might hate endless runners. Even then, we'd urge you to give this one a chance, as it just may sway your opinion. Michael Bay news/rumors aside, Nickelodeon has otherwise done a stellar job managing the franchise since acquiring it, and this game continues that trend.
- Visuals, sounds, voices all feel like they came right out of the show; one of the most empowering runners we've played.
- You only get to use Leonardo until you unlock the other Turtles? Weak.