The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were pretty cool back in the day. For a start, they were ninjas, which locks in a certain level of coolness regardless of context. They were teenagers, so they could relate to their target demographic. And if that wasn't enough, they were mutant turtles as well, which you just don't see every day. So combining these elements, plus the fact they were trained by a mutant rat (who was also a ninja) made them rather hot property in their heyday of the late eighties to early nineties.
But this is 2010. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Arcade Attack is supposedly a throwback to that heyday when times were simpler, turtles were greener, faceless goons were more easily dispatched and pizzas were more delicious. Its release has been timed to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the bodacious foursome. The game's chosen representation of the turtles ties to the black and white comics that started in the mid-eighties. The games cutscenes are all presented as a comic book, moving from frame to frame and complete with speech bubbles. This is a pretty effective method of conveying story given the limitations of the DS, and the artwork is taken from the actual comics themselves. The in-game appearance of the turtles and environments is more in tune with the first cartoon, which is the iteration people will be most familiar with.
Sadly though, Arcade Attack isn't very good. In attempting to replicate classic arcade gameplay, developer Ubisoft has forgotten that classic arcade gameplay isn't necessarily a good thing. Many people tend to put on their rose-coloured glasses when reminiscing about the glorious gaming of yesteryear, putting aside the reality that 95% of those kind of games are abysmal by today's standards, offering up little more than a short-lived gimmick. 'Remember when games were like this?' you might say as you enjoy the nostalgic gameplay for five minutes before finding something better to do. To offer up such archaic gameplay in a full-priced, new game isn't the smartest idea. The novelty wears thin oh-so-fast.
Arcade Attack is a side-scrolling beat 'em up much like many other Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle games that have been released. You start off on the first of eight stages, and pick one of the four turtles, who each have a differing set of stats. You can then select which turtle will be your partner for the stage. The graphics are presented in pseudo-3D where you can move forward and laterally across what is a very small area. The game doesn't use the Nintendo DS stylus whatsoever, not even for selecting from the menus. You move your turtle around very awkwardly with the d-pad, with each of the face buttons assigned to kicking, jumping, weapon attacks and block. Each turtle has a few basic combos at their disposal, a grab and a small assortment of evasive flips. There are a few neat double-team moves you can perform as well. You'll shuffle slowly from area to area, dispatch the two or three enemies that appear, and continue shuffling until you reach the end of the stage. Rinse and repeat.
Sadly, this is the full extent and depth of the game. After the fairly brief Story mode is wiped there's a Stage Attack mode which involves playing individual stages to get the best possible ranking. There's also a Survival mode that sees you taking on waves of enemies and trying to survive for as long as possible, and a timed Boss Rush mode wherein you take on the bosses encountered from the Story mode one after another. Despite these additional modes, it's still the same boring, clumsy gameplay, so they unfortunately don't do a lot to redeem the game.
It's also possible to play wireless co-op, which would probably make the game slightly more entertaining if it weren't the fact that you'll require two cartridges if you want to make it happen. This creates a logistical loop in that if any one person bought this game, they'd probably warn their friends against doing the same, thereby making a wireless co-op scenario rather improbable.
Arcade Attack is not necessarily a broken game, but it's not an entertaining one either. The gameplay is extremely bland and simplistic and the controls are clumsy and slow. The best part of the game is seeing the old comic strips brought to life. It all feels uninspired and pointless and feels more like an old Gameboy title than Nintendo DS one. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Arcade Attack is a poor game that isn't worth your time and certainly isn't worth your money.