The console versions of TMNT are pretty average titles that will only last for a few hours and provide little reason to come back. And although it's all too easy to initially discount TMNT simply because it's a game based on a movie on a platform that's reaching the end of its lifespan, TMNT for the Game Boy Advance is a solid beat 'em up that pays homage to the Konami classics, and is a great game in its own right. The game is purely focused on action, and shows that the Game Boy Advance still has plenty of potential.
The game features seven lengthy levels. Before jumping shell-first into a level, you'll need to select one of the four turtles and a secondary turtle to help with attacks. As with most beat 'em up titles, you simply need to keep moving to the right and defeating all of the enemies that get in your way. There's a decent variety of enemies, and it will take more than just one punch to get rid of them. There are plenty of moves including sweep kicks, grabs, jumps, throws and head stomps. The game also features a combo counter. Your secondary turtle comes into play when you fill up the co-op meter. By defeating enemies consecutively, you can call up your secondary turtle to help you out. If you summon your partner when there are no enemies, you'll get a plate of food which replenishes your health.
Enemies that attack you will often drop weapons which can then be used against the other goons that come at you. Weapons include baseball bats and swords. Enemies will also drop coins. There are interactive objects in the environment which can be used in combat, these include bins, post office boxes and tyres. Once you've completed a level, you'll receive experience points which will increase your turtle's abilities. You will go back to the turtle's lair.
There are plenty of options at the turtle's lair: you can replay any of the missions you've completed, or see Master Splinter to move onto the next level. You can also purchase items from the shop or play mini-games. The lair also contains a trophy room, which keeps track of your achievements in the game. The bonuses in the lair are impressive and are a good distraction from the main game.
It's hard not to be impressed with what Ubisoft has achieved with TMNT on the Game Boy Advance. The game is just as good as the previous 2D TMNT Konami games that fans have been praising for decades. The levels are all well-designed, the turtles have a wide range of moves, and the enemies are tough but not cheap.
However, the biggest omission from the game is a lack of multiplayer. Much like how the console versions of the game would have been more enjoyable with multiplayer, the same rings true for the Game Boy Advance version. It's likely the engine was already pushed far enough though, with lots of enemies on screen and detailed levels, so this may be why it was omitted; it doesn't make it okay, but we could understand the limitation.
Graphically, the game looks very impressive. There are multiple enemies on screen at once, without any slowdown at all. The turtles themselves look good and move fluidly. The environments are impressive, and you can even interact with the environments and slice and hack at different objects. You'll hear all the punches and kicks and the audio is surprisingly impressive.
The seven levels in the game are long but it won't take you too long to complete the game in its entirety. In fact within four hours you probably would have seen every level. However, as the game is so enjoyable it's quite likely you will want to come back and repeat some of the minigames or try and improve your best times. Your turtles will be a lot stronger and faster by the time you finish the game so you may want to go back and beat the first levels with a quicker time.
TMNT is a perfect example of how to develop a movie licensed title correctly. The console versions of the game weren't that great but TMNT on the Game Boy Advance pays homage to some of the early TMNT games and adds some new elements; such as the ability to upgrade your turtle and purchase items from the shop. TMNT is highly recommended for those who love 2D beat 'em up's. A surprisingly enjoyable game.