Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash-Up Hands-On

We brush up on our ninja skills as we fight with and against our favorite TMNT characters.

These heroes in a half shell are back and ready to rumble in the upcoming brawler for the Nintendo Wii, developed by Game Arts. The turtles are making a comeback and drawing in a whole new audience with their cartoon revival in the last few years, as well as the recent CGI movie. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash-Up lets you fight as your favorite turtle in familiar locations for fans who have grown up with or who have recently begun to follow the series. We had the opportunity to stop by Ubisoft's offices to get a feel for the game and spent some additional time with it at the company's press event in Los Angeles a few weeks ago.

We were excited to find out that TMNT: Smash-Up will play very much like Super Smash Bros. in that you duke it out onscreen with a simple move set, but considering that it's based on health you don't have to knock anyone offstage. This isn't going to be a traditional fighter in which you'll have to memorize button combos and time them correctly; instead, it's meant to be easily accessible for anyone to pick up and play. Only a partial character roster has been revealed, and it includes the core group from the franchise: Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, Raphael, April, Shredder, and Splinter. We weren't able to get a total roster count or even a hint at whom else might be included, but we could definitely use our imagination and come up with a good number of characters that we'd love to see.

The controls work the same way with each character, and given that they don't come with special moves, it's fairly easy to get a handle on any of them. Their fighting style, speed, and range will differ, so April is surprisingly fast and fluid in her movements whereas Shredder is incredibly slow but more powerful. Our favorite was Donatello--who always has a tendency to perform better in Turtles games--because he moved with a decent amount of speed and his range was unmatched. Each character is surrounded by a colored aura to help you keep track of one another, because it can be a little difficult to distinguish Raphael from Michelangelo in a four-player match.

We were able to try two separate control schemes, one with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk and the other with the remote only. We liked the Nunchuk-and-remote combo better because we could control our character freely with the analog stick and use the D pad for our ninja powers. Holding the remote sideways was easy enough, except due to the limited amount of buttons, special attacks required the A and 2 buttons. Everyone has access to ninja powers, which are gained from items that drop periodically during the match. As long as you pick up the item before your opponent does, you can whip out some long-range attacks with a set of shuriken or breathe fire, which is an interesting sight when it's April doing the singeing. The A and B buttons (1 and 2 when using the remote only) are for your light and heavy attacks, so you can do combos or different moves depending on the direction in which you're swinging. At this point in the prebeta stage, the controls felt unresponsive at times, especially when we were changing directions quickly while trying to land a string of attacks. We hope that this will be adjusted further before release, but at this point, everything else is looking good. There is some light use of the motion controls, but only when you're stunned after taking a severe beating. An icon will appear over your head to indicate that you can shake your controller to recover.

Looks like Leonardo has an itch to scratch.

The constantly changing environment contributes a lot to your success or failure, especially when elements such as running water or leaping crocodiles can cost you your match. We fought in Splinter's well-kept underground dojo as well as the shady Manhattan apartment rooftops, but it was much more chaotic and fun to fight in the jungle, sewer, and enemy-base stages that involved broken platforms along with strong currents--the wet and electrical kind. The jungle stage began on a huge log with a lovely waterfall backdrop, but after a few punches and swings, the log fell apart and we tumbled down into an area with three dangling logs and a very hungry crocodile. Crocodile warnings will appear during the match, so whoever happens to be standing at the bottom of the screen is guaranteed to be its lunch. This is your chance to play strategically; once the warning begins to flash, the crocodile won't appear if no one is hanging out at the bottom. If you can wait long enough and then knock someone off or cut the rope attaching his or her platform, your opponent will automatically be toast. This high-flying lizard doesn't just hang out in the tropics; you'll find it in the sewer stage as well. After you destroy the sewer door to the left of the stage, a rush of water (eww) pushes you and everyone else to a new area with multiple platforms. Water is constantly flowing here across all platforms, and it can be hard to move against the current to stay out of harm's way while going after your opponents. The final stage that we tried was an enemy base that had crumbling towers and electrical hazards. After you fall through the upper level, the area below has a strange orb in the middle of the platform that, if you hit, sets off this rotating, electrical booby trap that makes it difficult--and ultimately more fun--for everyone.

We learned that Game Arts has worked closely with Mirage Studios and Peter Laird, cocreator of TMNT, to capture that ninja turtle vibe. The game isn't based on any specific cartoon or movie, but it incorporates a combination of elements across the entire Turtles franchise. It's obvious that a lot of care was put into designing the characters and replicating familiar areas such as the dojo. The team was given access to Laird's library of comics and worked closely with him, receiving feedback in regard to the story and character designs. TMNT: Smash-Up's overall look is reminiscent of the recent CGI movie, with the leaner and meaner turtles and an ultrathin April O'Neil. Shredder has also taken on a more supernatural look, with glowing, demon-red eyes, and Splinter is exactly what you'd expect him to be. The voice actors from the current TMNT cartoons will lend their talents, which we imagine we'll hear more of when we receive new information regarding the single-player mode.

Shredder and April duke it out in Splinter's Dojo.

TMNT: Smash-Up is coming along nicely, and we're looking forward to finding out more details about the roster and single-player mode. If the controls can be tightened up, this could be an incredibly fun brawler for the different generations of turtles fans. Be sure to check back soon because we will update when more information becomes available. The game is currently set to be released in September.

[Update: Release date is now September 22.]

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Discussion

137 comments
SSBFan12
SSBFan12

This game looks amazing.

asian_pride69
asian_pride69

I saw the demo, looks good Wonder who else will be on the game's roster. That would be interesting to know.

pakhair
pakhair

Ok Title..............

gmax
gmax

Indeed, Leonardo has an itch. A developer is likely to confirm. Choice captions.

score89
score89

If they add characters from all the TMNT versions/decades this game could be even better than ssbb

g1rldraco7
g1rldraco7

looks very interesting. It's different from the ninja turtles I use to watch.

truckr_life
truckr_life

what character lineup do you all expect?? Foot Soldiers? Those mutants from Movie #2, the pizza delivery kung-fu guy? Anybody remember those pizza mutants from the VHS movies?? lol it could get crazy

jeffezy
jeffezy

Actually looks more like Powerstone which i always thought was better than smash bros anyday.

remixbaby44
remixbaby44

but i wanna know wut donnie fights for... looks cool though, and the online hopefuly will be better than brawl's

kai-ming10
kai-ming10

I wish it was possible to just have DLC for ssbb that makes the turtles playable characters. That would have been better than this. But I know that will never happen, for a million reasons.

borninvincible
borninvincible

TMNT rock... been a lifelong fan. hope this turns out to be worthwhile.

gamefan606
gamefan606

so yea Ike can be a special guest in this game since they all fight for a reason well Ike fights for a reason too.... Ike: "I Fight For My Friends" lol anyway this game im lookin forward too ill keep my eye on it 8)

Gamer4Iife
Gamer4Iife

So it's Super Smash... with Ninja Turtles. Sweet. :P

shinian
shinian

If this game a poor clone of Super Smash Bros Brawl with 8 playable characters or are my eyes deciving me?

ChidoriBoyU
ChidoriBoyU

i love TMNT but the games that are made about'em suck (sadly)

ognen
ognen

I love them.

Hyroshima
Hyroshima

Eh... Al I can say at this point.

Link3301
Link3301

im not done with ssbb yet even im going to be playing it for a long time its an awesome game i cant believe that this game would be better super samsh bros is a unique fighting expierience

ice05052005
ice05052005

What if they had the Skateboarding lizard, and that samurai panda! They better have metalhead and slash!!!!

FlamingWafflez
FlamingWafflez

Some people here seem to be confused about April... Let me clarify. This April skin is from the most recent movie entitled, "TMNT". And this game will most likely have Bebop and Rocksteady in it. I heard that it's supposed to have MANY characters from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And yes this game will be like SSBB but instead of knocking eachother out of the map, you will have a healthbar.

Thelmen
Thelmen

wtf have they done to turtles? i want it to be like the eighties cartoon series that's the turtles i love and why are april fighting? strange..

MarthRingman
MarthRingman

Super Smash Turtles. I wonder why all the character models look like garbage though.

karlington
karlington

bebop? rocksteady? guys where the eff are you?

JoeyJoe91
JoeyJoe91

the gameplay look like super smash bros brawl

drakanos1
drakanos1

I love the idea for the game but I hope this is not the finished product, it looks rather last gen

loveGAARA17
loveGAARA17

oh good i thought it was on PS3 or X360 i was gonna shoot myself

blankshore
blankshore

Great preview. I'm not a Ninja Turtles fan, but fighting games on Wii are few and far between.

audioaxes
audioaxes

lol why did they even bother? looks like garbage and who cares about TMNT?

SpitfirexXxXx
SpitfirexXxXx

Wow the incompetent level of the comments on this page is mind blowing. When's the last time any of you watched Ninja turtles or hell read a turtles comic book? Anyone who even slightly follows turtles knows it's their 25th anniversary this year and this game is a tribute to that. It's going to contain stuff from all the different TMNT properties. This includes the movie series, the old cartoon, the new cartoon, and the comic books. As someone whose been following turtles for 20+ years now my only complaint is the character designs they chose. I hate the new movie look and I hope they offer alternate costumes. I'd mainly like to see ones fashioned after the Mirage comic look. I also hope they jump outside the core cast of known characters and pull from Mirage's awesome rogues gallery. Complete Carnage anyone?

RazzaFrazz
RazzaFrazz

Graphics look nice and this might be a good solid game for fans who own the Wii. But TMNT has been milked for too long. Just let them die peacefully.

LordBaphomet
LordBaphomet

I'm willing to bet this game's going to be crap. All the recent Turtles games have been, and this doesn't look any different to me.

SilentCard
SilentCard

This looks... surprisingly impressive...

wiifan001
wiifan001

improve the controls, more playable characters (way more than 7) and don't let the environments be too impactive and we may have a solid fighting wii title :)

Junsei
Junsei

man they was better off doing a revision of TMNT tournament fighters

BlueFlameBat
BlueFlameBat

Karai! Gotta have Karai! And Baxter Stockman too! Maybe Rocksteady and Bebop?

ejstrup
ejstrup

looks.... absolutely terrible

9th_SolBadguy
9th_SolBadguy

it looks real good on paper but i know there are some things they can improve on before launch so get to it

pakhair
pakhair

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

gamefan606
gamefan606

i mean i was like others here too thinking this game might suck but if you think about this might turn out great x]

gamefan606
gamefan606

well i bet they are using the same engine from brawl to this game Smash-UP their just changing it slowly so as of now it looks alright but later it would be waaaaaay better. Its actually prettty cool that their using Ninja Turtles their awesome their not the same but still...game arts want to pick them up i guess also if their is neutral stages on this game then im getting it..it would be crazy to see tournaments for this game i would be like NICE their probably using them for their next project to get an idea or something for the next smash game but this game looks fun to play...also i cant wait to see who comes out! it would be crazy since its only like Wii Exclusive they might put in a nintendo character haha that would be a huge surprise like link or something it would be cool though seeing Raphael vs Link damn..well either way this game might turn out great hopefully theirs techs on this game maybe...maybe not and hopefully some creative characters to play against! as of now its alright just got to wait to see what comes out later and we'll have to wait for E3 to show us the demo!