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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Mutant Nightmare

Score: 90%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1 - 4 (Multicard)
Genre: Action/ Themed

Graphics & Sound:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Mutant Nightmare takes the same basic storyline found in the console games with the same title, but gears itself more towards the portable market with shorter missions and quicker gameplay.

Graphically, the 2D side-scrolling world that is Mutant Nightmare looks good. All of the characters fill up the screen well and are easy to identify. Enemies even have their own small differences. Unlike the console versions, all Triceratons (the alien Dinosaurs invading the Earth) don't look alike. Instead there are subtle differences that can give you a heads up on what to expect from a particular enemy. For instance, when you see one of the redder Triceratons, expect it to charge you instead of walking up and trying to bat you around. Or if you see one of the members of the Federation (another invading force that opposes the Triceratons, but aren't necessarily good either) with a blue object in his hand, then he will start throwing bombs at you instead of using a baton.

This is one of the things I liked more about the DS version of TMNT 3 than the GameCube one. There is more variety; I found myself concentrating more on ways to avoid enemy fire and use their particular attacks against them, instead of just mindlessly hacking away at bad guys. But that is a topic for the next section.

As far as sound is concerned, Mutant Nightmare is dead on. The music while in a fight is energetic and really gets you into the mood for a nice quick battle. Sound effects also seem to fit as your character hits enemies, breaks blocks, and activates various switches.


Gameplay:

The Triceratons are attempting to abduct one of the Turtles' friends, and it is up to the lean-green-fighting-team to make sure they don't succeed. That's the basic setup of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Mutant Nightmare. The game is divided into four worlds, and each world has a series of stages. Each stage should take about less than ten minutes or so to either beat or fail. This is why the game is great for a portable. You can quickly go in, try to beat whatever stage you are stuck on and jump out again in no time.

Of course, this also means the game's Story Mode is a quick play. Though you will have to repeat most of the stages several times before actually getting past it, the Story Mode will probably only take you about seven or eight hours. Of course, you can go back at any time and replay beaten stages if you wish. This, plus the game's other modes (including a few multiplayer components) helps to add to Mutant Nightmare's gameplay time.

These other modes include Battle Mode where you will be confined to a small arena and you must collect a certain number of crystals before the clock runs out. These arenas will have you doing everything from bouncing off of enemies, to jumping on disappearing platforms, to swinging around on poles to get to hard-to-reach crystals that appear all over the room. Though this might not sound like too much of a challenge, the time limit is typically just short enough that it will take you a few tries before you get skilled enough to get to all the crystals before the clock runs out.

The other mode offered is Practice Mode. Here you will select a turtle and learn from Master Splinter how to use that character's various special abilities. For instance, this is where you learn how to call on your allies or use Leonardo's powerful slash attack or Raph's strength.

In fact, that's another difference that I found in this game that made me find it more enjoyable than the GC version. The DS' TMNT 3 actually made the different turtles feel like unique characters. In the GameCube edition, with the exception of a couple of moves, each turtle felt like the next. That doesn't seem to be the case here. I found that Leo was quicker, while Don was slower but seemed to have more of a reach. Raphael seemed to be able to take enemies out faster while Mikey seemed to be a good average of the three.

This, plus the fact that in some stages, each turtle had to take different paths (because only Raph can move the boulders or only Don can open a computer-controlled doorway) helped to make the game feel a bit bigger than it was and make each of the four heroes unique.

The game's Multiplayer component requires that all people joining in have a copy of TMNT 3: Mutant Nightmare. If that is the case, then up to four people can either team up or go head-to-head in the Battle Mode challenges to see who can collect the most crystals.


Difficulty:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Mutant Nightmare's difficulty is fairly well balanced. The game's Story Mode has a nice progression within each stage, but not necessarily throughout the entire game. In other words, as you progress in a stage, you will have to fight more and more enemies, but no one stage is really any harder than the last. This means that if you want to go back and play one of your favorite stages, then you can just jump right in instead of working your way up in order to make sure you are ready for that stage's difficulty.

As for the Battle Mode, these challenges can take some work, but they never feel futile. I found that I had to go through each challenge at least three times (and usually more) before I was able to actually collect enough crystals to progress, but I never got annoyed or felt like I wasn't getting better.


Game Mechanics:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Mutant Nightmare has a simple control scheme that uses the A button to jump, B button to attack, and a combination of one of those and the Y button to perform some of the more powerful special attacks. Turtles can also perform powerful attacks by holding down the B button and building up a charge. This charge is represented on the lower screen with a meter. But be careful - if you try to charge up too much, your character will over-exert himself and be a bit stunned for a couple of seconds.

You will also find yourself reaching for the stylus fairly regularly throughout the game (though not so much that you have to hold it constantly). There are times when you will walk up to valves and control boxes and you have to use the touch screen to manipulate small, quick puzzles in a short amount of time (in a very Wario-Ware manner).

The touch screen is also used to call for help. When there is a need for one of your current allies to help (be it a turtle, Fugitoid or one of the other characters that tag along), a picture of them will light up at the base of the touch screen. Tap that picture with your thumb and they will do whatever is necessary. These tasks include throwing you onto a ledge, helping you destroy all the enemies on the screen, or planting a computer virus in an alien ship.

I was glad to see the touch screen put to some use in this game. Though these features could probably have been either taken out or assigned to some random buttons, giving the system's lower screen a use made the game feel like it belonged on the DS instead of some other handheld.

Also, as an added bonus for those of you who have one of the GBA TMNT games, pop it into your DS and see what extras you might unlock in Mutant Nightmare. Is it considered "Connectivity" if it's all in the same system??


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated