Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Mutant Nightmare Hands-On

We try out the latest entry in Konami's revival of its classic franchise.


Konami unveiled the third entry in its Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles revival for current-generation consoles, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Mutant Nightmare, at its press event today. The game is once again based on the current cartoon series and stars the four mutated turtles named after famous Renaissance artists. Though Konami's previous attempts have yielded mixed results, our look at this latest game has left us cautiously optimistic. TMNT3's solid gameplay, clean visuals, and features that old-school fans have been asking for, have left us with a hopeful impression for the final.

The new game will once again put you in control of Michelangelo, Raphael, Donatello, and Leonardo, turtles with an uncanny knack for the martial arts. Information on the game's story was pretty thin at the event, but the game's intro cinema showed the quartet facing off against ninjas from the Foot Clan and their leader, the villainous Shredder, who was sporting a wicked-looking set of armor. So we'll assume you're probably going to be--and we're just guessing here--trying to stop the evil Shredder and his Foot minions from doing something terrible.

The game is structured into different chapters that are made up of various levels. Though the bulk of the action we saw focused on melee combat, we also got to ride hoverboards and other turtle-themed paraphernalia. The melee levels felt tighter than in the previous games and continued the positive trend of supporting four players. The controls were basically the same as in the previous entries in the series and let you perform a modest number of combos and special attacks. New this time out is the ability to charge a meter and perform a team special with the other turtles, as well as the ability to level up your turtle by collecting scrolls you can use to enhance its abilities. If you manage to collect enough scrolls, you'll be able to change your turtle into its ultimate form--an uberpowerful tattooed and glowing incarnation of the boy. Each of the turtles' ultimate forms feature unique attributes that enhance their abilities well beyond those of normal turtles.

But, as cool as all of that sounds, the real hotness in the new game is the inclusion of Turtles in Time, the classic arcade game that endeared the turtles to a generation, which can be unlocked. The game has been re-created for inclusion in TMNT3. Purists will note that there are a few notable changes, the standout is the replacement of the original turtles theme song with the one for the current animated series. We also noticed that the work-in-progress game we tried featured considerably more enemies onscreen than the original arcade game, which ramped up the difficulty some.

The visuals in the game are looking good. The main game features a more refined look than the previous turtles games but still features the same basic look for the gang. The environments and enemies you face all look good, albeit unspectacular, at this point. The game's camera has been improved some and didn't hitch as much as in the previous games we've played, which makes us hopeful that the camera in the final game will be better in the end.

Based on our look at the game, TMNT3 seems like it has the potential to be the best turtles game yet thanks to the host of improvements that are being made to the formula and visuals. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Mutant Nightmare is currently slated to ship this fall for the GameCube, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2, and Xbox.

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