Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade: Wrath Of The Mutants Review

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade: Wrath Of The Mutants

by Matt Kamen |
Published on

Platforms: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC

Despite being an upgraded version of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game from 2017, you'd be forgiven for missing this first time around. The original was that rarest of releases in the 21st century: a scrolling beat-'em-up released only as an arcade cabinet. As in, for an actual arcade. In physical space!

At the time, there was some excitement over the game, as it seemed to echo the beloved 1991 arcade brawler Turtles In Time – a high point for the genre, not just the Turtles – promising four-player thrills around a flashy cabinet_._ But, without a home release to follow, it slipped from view. Seven years on, it finally gets that console port, now with the snappy Wrath Of The Mutants subtitle – but players are likely to be the ones left angry.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade: Wrath Of The Mutants

Even with developer Cradle Games adding new stages and boss fights into the mix, fattening up what original developer Raw Thrills released to arcades, this is a threadbare game by any measure. Its meagre six levels can be barrelled through in around an hour on normal difficulty, even playing solo. Brevity could be forgiven – or even a selling point in an age of endless 100+ hour epics – if Wrath's combat was exceptional or the game had plenty of replayability. Unfortunately, neither is the case.

Short levels, simplified controls, and flashy visuals may work in the arcade, but it doesn't hold up at home.

Combat is bland, a repetitive staccato of hammering the single attack button or jumping. The flashiest combo is jumping and _then_attacking, for a simple dive kick. Worse, controls are unresponsive – a prompt during certain boss fights to "JUMP!" to evade ground attacks feels impossible to react in time to – and the game lacks even a basic dodge move. That's particularly frustrating, as Wrath's animation is surprisingly solid, allowing attentive players to read enemy attack patterns, but leaving them with barely any way to counter or avoid them. Then again, enemy AI is so abysmal – attack an explosive item on a stage, such as an oil barrel, and they'll actively walk towards it, removing any skill or timing in trapping foes in a blast – that even a dodge might make players feel overpowered.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade: Wrath Of The Mutants

Beyond each Turtle’s signature weapon, there's barely any tangible difference in experience, regardless of which of the heroic quartet you play as. Only their Turtle Power attack differs, a special move that can be unleashed after filling a gauge by dealing damage to enemies. Yet even there, although there's some difference in appearance – Raphael fills the screen with fire, Leonardo creates a vortex, and so on – the effect is always just a one-hit KO of grunts.

As for replayability, the only benefit is trying to land a higher score on each level's scoreboard. Every stage is structured exactly the same as the next, too – walk to the right, punch out enemies, pick up precisely two ally summons at set points in each level (one calls on robo-turtle Metal Head, the other mutant alligator Leatherhead), and take out a mid-level and end of level boss. Rinse and repeat five times, fight arch-villain Shredder in the final stage, roll credits. There's no incentive for completing the game as a whole, short of unlocking a harder difficulty level.

Wrath also feels weirdly anachronistic now, drawing on the characters and settings of the 2012 CGI TMNT cartoon – a version of the Turtles we're now three reboots removed from. Not that it matters much – there's no story here, making it a shock when you clear the game and find out, via the medium of embarrassingly near-static cutscene, that you were apparently out to rescue April O'Neal from Shredder.

To its defence, Wrath is at least a budget release – £24.99 RRP – and fans of that 2012 cartoon will enjoy its fidelity to the source material, both visually and with returning voice actors including Seth Green, Sean Astin, and Gilbert Gottfried. It's also, like most scrolling brawlers, more fun when you have friends in the same room playing along. But when contrasted against the likes of 2022's superb Shredder's Revenge — another example of the genre, also inspired by Turtles In Time, but with a wider roster of playable characters from TMNT lore, a passing but competent story mode, and a few unlockable surprises — Wrath feels like a half-hearted outing for the heroes in a half-shell. Short levels, simplified controls, and flashy visuals may work in the arcade, but it doesn't hold up at home.

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