DANGER of the OOZE
Credits for Production to NICKELODEON, ACTIVISION, WAYFORWARD and ENGINE BLACK Credits for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird
There have already been a number of electronic games based on the adventures of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles so one may wonder why Activision should put a lot of time and finance into yet another? One, I would guess at is that there has recently been a new movie from Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures plus of course there is a successful TV show (also on Nick), and the second is that the Turtles make for great animated characters and everyone has a favourite. In this side-scrolling action-based adventure Mikey first comes under your control as you lead him from the outside into the sewers and eventually to Master Splinter and the Turtles lair.
Because everyone (okay, everyone who likes the TMNT) has their favourite the game has been designed so that you can control whichever Turtle you wish, only swapping to another of the quad-group when neccessity requires it. This may occur if the Turtle you control is losing life points and is in danger of dying, then you need a quick tag (as in wrestling) and a new Turtle (not by random but by choice) jumps into the action and the one you were using leaves the scene to lick his wounds. Actually I made that sound a bit more dramatic than it actually is - in fact the Turtles do not die, instead they are captured and deposited elsewhere in the City and you need to locate him to rescue and return him to the game.
After the opening credits you are asked to input your name, but whatever you type Michaelangelo pops up and names you. I tried this a few times (because I thought I had made a mistake in my typing the first time) amd received a different name/title each time. The two that stuck in my mind are: Mutant Master and Ninja Sensei.
Once you arrive at the Lair, Master Splinter puts you through your paces in a training tutorial and only once the training has been completed you are almost ready to begin playing - just first you have to listen to the Turtle Rap and watch the animated action, then it is into the game, onward and upward through the sewers and beyond. As you progress and succeed so new areas open and become available. As expected, The Foot have another dastardly plan that needs to be stopped in its tracks before New York is attacked by a deadly mutagen. Shredder, forever the nemesis, has joined forces with the Kraang (an alien mutated race derived from the Krang and the Ultroms) and the Turtle teens have to prevent the disaster with only brief help from some of their regular friends, April O'Neill being one of these who is seen far too rarely.
The animation and the detail of the Turtles, and the main villains is very good, almost HD TV quality, but the minion henchmen are poorly conceived visually in the main and the backdrops are often a little flat and mostly uninteresting. My guess on this is that because the minions are multitude and most players hardly take note of the background but have their eyes fixed on the characters and their adversaries, there was no need to spend longer than necessary on designing inanimate backdrops. I will say that although careful study of the backgrounds is something you aren't likely to do, they do okay to represent the sewers and New York City, an as long as "okay" is okay with you then that's okay. The PS3 certainly does a good job handling the graphics and the speed of the game while the wireless THRUSTMASTER White Controller that I use a lot of the time for PS3 gaming (I also often use the Black version of the Thrustmaster PS3 wireless controller) handles the movement and action with sublime ease.
The controls for each Turtle are the same, so there aren't a lot of complex routines to remember for each of our mutated heroes, but even though the buttons and triggers on the controller each give the expected result, all four of the Turtles has his own specific weapon and unique special movement. Thus Mikey's Nunchakus, Raphael's Sai, Donatello's Bo Stick and Leonardo's Katana are all operated by the same button when in combat but each has its own electrifying movement and action. You can upgrade the Turtles through experience gained in combat, and talking of combat there are a number of villains new to the TMNT electronic game range to get stuck in against including the aptly named and quite challenging Tiger Claw and Stockman Fly. The Turtles can spin, slide, jump, dance and do a whole catalogue of expert special moves that look great except when you do one at the incorrect time (as in when I mean to attack and instead I hit the wrong button and do something really cool..... that gets me bopped.
If I were to nitpick it would be mainly about the fact that there is a lot of going back and forth over the same backgrounds and areas which does get a mite tiring at times, and unfortunately what I figure to be due to poor thought or implementation, there is also a severe lack of places where you can rest (and thus Save your game). This is a game which some players will plough through quite quickly as it has the majority of known situations to this genre, being a side-scrolling platform-style of game. There are elements of Sonic in a Turtle Shell if truth be told but this is only implied by the actions and effects. The Turtle characters of the movies and TV shows shine through via theie conversations, attitudes and their love of Pizza - the way to get Mikey to do anything is offer him a 5-cheese pizza. During the game your favoured Turtle ise often required to bound across platforms or reach stations above them. To complete these actions you have to time your leaps and jumps to avoid disadvantageous combat (often if you jump at the right time you can land behind an opponent and get in a few hits before he retaliates, but if you jump into him or land at his/its feet you are liable to get a good walloping before you can adjust) and dangerous effects. Wall jumps (these are when you have to leap up and sideways onto a wall and then immediately, before you fall, leap up and sideways again until you reach the platform above you) generally took me a few attempts before I got the timing correct, but in general, failing to complete the Z-style climbing usually only results in falling to another combat (if you had dodge a guard for instance or if one has re-popped) or perhaps just the need to retry the climb; damage to your Turtle is minimal if any.
I can't, in good faith, tell you that Danger of the Ooze is the best TMNT game ever, but it is extremely good and I can say with certainty that it is most enjoyable and fun to play. It will be a favourite amongst younger players (and old time TMNT fans - I remember taking my young kids to see them "live" at one of the theme parks in Florida - though for some reason the kids thought they were taking me) as it really does capture the magic, colour, fun and interest of the Nickelodeon television programme. If you like side-scrolling action games or you like the TMNT then you will like TMNT DANGER of the OOZE. If you don't like side-scrollers then you'll just have to concentrate on liking the Turtles and if you don't like the Turtles, why have you read all the way down to here ?