Game Arts and Ubisoft celebrate the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 25th anniversary with the release of TMNT: Smash-Up for the Nintendo Wii and PS2. Following the formula of another smash Wii title, Smash-Up is for all the turtle-holics that have missed out on Ubisoft's recent Turtle releases. Beat em' up, and knock em' down, this is TMNT: Smash-Up.

Fans of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles should be happy. In the last few years the turtles have had a recergence of such, and even though they didn’t recreate the hype of the early 80s, they still rock out with their shell out. TMNT: Smash-Up helps celebrate the turtles 25th anniversary with a half decent fighting game that follows in the vein of Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

The Super Smash Bros. reference is impossible not to mention because Smash-Up is basically a mimicked version of Brawl... expect with the characters from the Turtles universe. Both games are fun brawl styled fighters that do their jobs well. Even though Brawl was out first, there is enough room for both games on the market, and some might even prefer the simple TMNT action over the more diverse Brawl. The game you love the most will probably depend on which product you like better, old Nintendo characters, or Eastman & Laird’s creation of mutated animals. Mutated turtles and evil ninjas, or plumbers and foxmen, take your pick.

The original line-up that is unlocked from the beginning is a little slim and as you play through the game you will work towards unlocking more characters. In total, Smash-Up has 16 characters which also includes a surprise appearance from another Ubisoft franchise (I’ll leave it as a surprise). Obviously you will see the four main characters, the Ninja Turtles (Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo). You will also see Master Splinter, Shredder, April O’Neil, Casey Jones, and a few alternative costumes, newer characters and generic fighters like the foot ninja. Unless you have been deeply interested in the Turtles since the launch of original black and white comic this line-up will be good enough, although I’m surprised they didn’t add any of the new bad guys from the last CGI film that was released in 2007.

Smash-Up is a little different then Smash Bros. and actually more accessible than the other game which is outstanding. Brawl is more geared towards the semi-hardcore audience with a little more depth in the characters, their movement and the combat. Smash-Up is totally straight forward and easy to grasp. Each character fights almost identical and all the fights feel evened out and balanced because of it.  The artificial intelligence in Turtles isn’t half bad either and can provide a challenge if you boost it up, however you can keep it on easy until you learn the ropes.

Learning the ropes is easy as the controls have been super simplified... its one of those, even if you’ve never played a videogame in your life, you will get it games. The analog stick moves your character around the level with jumps and double jumps available to get to the high spots. There is a strong and weak attack that can be combined with directional presses to offer up different variations. Finally you have grabs and blocks that is done by pressing one button for blocking or the two attack buttons to perform a grab/throw. TMNT also gives the player a little more freedom in how they save themselves from falling with the ability to jump off other objects or hang on to the edge of a wall instead of falling. This mechanic plays an important role in most battles and is an option that isn’t in its competitor.

The game has several modes which leads with its arcade mode which is your typical half-assed story that leads you into battle against a new competitor, or multiple competitors in some cases. This goes on for about 20 minutes until you put down your final adversary and the credits role. The story presented in Smash-Up is instantly forgettable which is surprising since Turtle lore is so vast, believe it or not. From Splinter’s wisdom to Shredder aggression, you will likely know the drill. Beyond the arcade mode you can participate in a Survival mode that has you testing you abilities, clocked in without dying. More interesting then these two modes is the Mission mode. This mode gives you specific objectives in how to defeat your enemy. These are simple and should never lead to confusion, like use a strong kick to win a match. It’s a little bit daunting to play through this mode, but it gives the single player gamer the most challenge.

I mentioned single player gamer because Smash-Up supports multiplayer. Like Brawl, the multiplayer includes local and online options. Four player support is granted and is the most fun with other “real” players. Online, or with other people Smash-Up changes gears and becomes a lot more unpredictable and fun. The game is fast paced already and when multiplayer gets involved things can get pretty chaotic. Online I had a few problems with the connection speeds which is all depends on who is playing, but I’m still glad the option is available because everyone knows the Wii needs all the online multiplayer games then can get.

Now the coolest aspect about Smash-Up are the stages that are very interesting, multilayered and always moving. Only a handful of stages are static battle grounds, so be prepared to do a lot of fighting on the move, and even in mid-air. Two of the stand out stages is the “Cruiseship” level where you fight onboard the deck of a crusieship as it heads into a titanic iceberg complete with giant whales. The “Train” level is another fun level that is constantly moving with the enemy in a mission to dislocate every cart section leaving you in their dust. This is one of the most challenging boards to fight on as it constantly is in motion with more than just enemies to deal with. The stages really pop here which helps make the battles more diverse and fun. All the little things help and the selected stages in Smash-Up are one good example.

TMNT: Smash-Up performs as a solid 2D fighter in the vein of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, however its not in the same league as Nintendo’s heavy hitter. Smash-Up has a number of good ideas, super-fun levels and multiplayer support which garners a rental, or a purchase if you’re a hardcore Turtle-a-holic, but if you had to pick between these two fighters, Brawl would come out on top. It’s great to see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles return with a new game as they struggle to find their own identity within the gaming world. Fans of fighting/brawling styled games you have another option, and the half-shelled mutants in TMNT: Smash-Up are it.

Gameplay:6.5, Graphics:7.0, Sound:5.0, Innovation:6.0, Mojo:6.0  Final: 6.1 / 10

Reviewed by DowntownJimmy | 09.29.09
  • TMNT returns, another outlet for your turtle needs
  • fast moving action with fun interactive levels
  • online and offline multiplayer
  • if you liked Smash Bros, you'll like this
  • environmental graphics are excellent
  • characters can be hard to follow
  • extremely simple gameplay
  • only 16 characters to choose from
  • announcers voice is reverb' d to death


Teenage Mutant
Ninja Turtles
Smash Up

Game Arts
September '09