|System: PS2, Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Game Arts||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept. 21, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Tony Capri
Whether youre a fan from way back or just casually aware of the craze, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) is a name to be reckoned with in the annals of geekdom. Ubisoft has been going all out this year to celebrate the 25th anniversary of these brawlers on the half shell, and now its time for Wii and PS2 to get in on the action. Does this Super Smash Bros.-inspired fighter have what it takes to impress Nintendos hardcore audience, or is this merely another re-shelling of the license?
Collaborating with key artists from the team that brought us Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Ubisoft has put together a solid fighting game with all the usual trimmings. Arcade is your typical story mode, mixing a handful of matches with a bit of presentation. Your sensei, Master Splinter, wants you to participate in a fighting tournament, but once the rounds are over, the real battle begins. Its a very generic tale, loosely strung together, but the artwork should prove entertaining for older fans who got their start with the franchise reading the TMNT comic books.
From the outset, the pickings are pretty slim, and players will have to make repeat trips through the Arcade mode in order to get at most of the unlockables in the game. Arcade mode is pretty short, however, and setting the difficulty to easy will make unlocking characters and other goodies less of a hassle. The A.I. is pretty impressive, though, even on the easiest setting, and there are five levels of difficulty to choose from. The first few battles are one on one against CPU characters, though youll later be pitted against multiple foes.
In addition to Arcade mode, there is Survival and Missions. Survival mode is pretty self-explanatory, tasking you with staying alive as long as possible against an endless string of combatants. Beating your best time is incentive to make repeat revisits, and its a worthwhile addition for folks only interested in a bit of single-player action.
Missions are comprised mostly of having you defeat enemies in a specific fashion: K.O. said opponent using a throw technique or K.O. your enemy with a strong attack, etc. The missions feel more like an obligatory bullet point on the games list of features, and most folks will likely find it a chore to complete them all.
The real meat and potatoes of Smash-up, however, lies in its multiplayer components, and the developers dont deviate at all from the Brawl formula. Both the local and online-multiplayer options allow for up to four players to get in on the action. Matches are almost every bit as fast-paced and chaotic as Smash Bros., and though there are some unique and very entertaining mechanics in Smash-up, the game almost feels like a Brawl expansion pack.
Theres a total of 16 different characters to choose from, three of them Rabbids from Ubisofts Raving Rabbids franchise. There are obvious choices, such as Shredder and Master Splinter, but the line-up includes a surprising amount of filler for such a limited roster of characters. Still, each brawler brings something unique to the fight, and the combat and controls are tight and satisfying.
Like Brawl, Smash-up keeps things simple. This isnt SoulCalibur or Street Fighter, where youve got a seemingly endless library of moves to choose from. The focus here is on party-oriented chaos, and to that end, its a game thats got some legs.