Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Wrath of the Mutants Review

April 23, 2024


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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Wrath of the Mutants is a side-scrolling arcade beat ‘em up starring the wisecracking heroes in a half shell — stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Arcade classic Turtles in Time and the more recent Shredder’s Revenge have made the Turtles synonymous with the genre at this point. The reptilian foursome’s bright and bold brand of ninjutsu and excellent rogues gallery make it ideal for adapting into a simple brawler. Sadly, instead of resurfacing on consoles, Wrath of the Mutants should probably have stayed in the sewers.

Having mindlessly mashed my way through waves of Foot Soldiers, Kraangdroids, Mousers and other assorted enemy stooges, switching up the Turtles as I went, I sat down to write this review after a little more than an hour. That might be a new record for me, but that’s really all there is to see of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Wrath of the Mutants. It’s a basic brawler with the depth of a wet pizza box. A routine licensed game that struggles to do right by the source material. Even 4-player co-op (a must-have for any arcade-style TMNT game) isn’t enough to bring the fun, and chasing leaderboards or playing on a harder difficulty doesn’t warrant spending any more time with it.

“Would you like the list alphabetically or in descending order of grossness?”

Where other Turtles arcade games are packed with personality, Wrath of the Mutants feels like it could be any other by-the-number beat ‘em up, skinned in green with a coloured bandana. Playing as one of the four Turtle brothers, you’ll wail on enemies with basic single-button combos, samey power-ups, and reskinned throwable weapons from the environment. Each attack landed builds a combo and contributes to your chosen character’s ‘Turtle Power’ meter. When activated, this delivers a special area of effect attack. Rinse. Repeat. It might appear like there are minor differences between each Turtle, but these don’t translate into actual variety. Outside of their look and chosen weapon, the only distinction between each of the brothers is their voice (provided by the show’s cast) and their special attack which is visually unique but functionally identical.

The same could almost be said of the game’s environments. Wrath of the Mutants matches the style of the 2012 Nickelodeon animated show and does a decent job recreating its look and feel albeit with less polish. An expanded port of the 2017 arcade release of the same name, Wrath of the Mutants takes the brothers from the rough and ready streets of New York City to the pink and futuristic Dimension X, which includes three more levels and six more bosses than the original release. The game is certainly showing its age, looking particularly dated for a PS5 title. Leo, Don, Mikey, and Raph are all recognisable, and not just by the colour of their bandanas, even if some character models do look a little rough up close. That said, in the grand scheme of things, that really isn’t important. It’s also worth remembering that the game wasn’t originally developed with both home consoles and the scrutiny that comes with console gaming in mind. Alas, I can’t forgive too many of its sins and the gameplay is ultimately really dull and not helped by some of the stiffer, slower, and more clunky animations.

Foot stinks!

Being the TMNT fan that I am, despite the myriad issues, Wrath of the Mutants did manage to make me smile on occasion. Nods to classic TMNT games like the sewer surfing segment, Krang blasting you with lasers through the environment, and throwing enemies towards the screen are all welcome — a little bit of heart in what can otherwise feel like quite a passionless licensed video game. Despite the repetitive nature of the soundbites, I also liked hearing the show’s original cast whilst playing. It might not get close to capturing the personality of the show or its characters, but it’s another attempt to do right by the source material where it could. Finally, I also appreciated the range of TMNT 2012 villains that were included as bosses. Iconic characters like Bebop & Rocksteady, Baxter Stockman and Shredder are par for the course. However, Wrath of the Mutants is one of the few games where foes like Fishface and Tiger Claw make an appearance and I suppose that may be notable to some.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is arguably in the midst of a cultural resurgence — one driven by a fantastic new movie, several acclaimed comic book runs, the series’ 40th anniversary and, most importantly for this conversation, some really good video games. As such, it’s hard not to look at Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Wrath of the Mutants — one hour long and priced at a ridiculous £24.99 –- as a cynical grab for cash.

As much as anyone may love the source material or the TMNT brand, there’s neither enough quality or even enough game here to justify playing Wrath of the Mutants. If you need another quick Turtles fix, rewatch the show instead, because the 2012 run is criminally overlooked.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Wrath of the Mutants is lacking in both content and quality - a cynical console port of an ageing arcade game, which does right by neither the source material nor the fanbase.