At long last my review of TMNT Smash-Up. Sorry for the lateness
Our Heroes in a Half Shell are back and looking for a fight. Most of us grew up playing TMNT Tournament Fighters for SNES, NES or Genesis. Smash Up is a return to old school, but now four players can now join in the action.
The Turtles , Fugitoid, and Foot Ninja- are over all well balanced except for Don he is a little slow but he makes up for it with powerful attacks and range.
Splinter, Casey Jones, Shredder, Utrominator, and Nightwatcher- are the power houses being a bit slow but pack a mean punch. Shredders Sword of Tengu charge move fully powered up does 400 to 450 damage.
April O’Neil and Karai are the fastest characters in the game and great to use in a four player frenzy.
Fans will appreciate the The Turtle themed stages, my personal favorite is the Space Lab as it shows the Triceraton Home World revolving in the background. The other turtles stages are The Lair from the 2K7 movie, Splinters Dojo from the 2K7 movie, The Underground aka Technodrome Rampage stage, The Sewer and warehouse from the 2K7 movie to name a few.
Gameplay The game is similar to Super Smash Bros in certain respects, but with several differences. Each character in the game is completely different from the next and has their own style and move set. The stages are more varied in size and have active hazards such as giant alligators to a burning castle. The controls could be a little tighter as they are not very responsive at times. Another minor problem is that characters stay on the ground to long after being knocked down. A cool feature is the ability to run up walls and jump attack towards your opponent.
Over all I was pleased with Smash-Up. I would have liked to have seen more Turtles theme stages and playable characters such as Usagi Yojimbo, Krang in Android body, Slash, Metalhead 80s and 2K3, Triceraton Warrior to name a few. Ubisoft did a great job and I hope we will get Smash-Up 2. In the mean time TMNT Arcade Attack is due out 11/10/09 for Gameboy DS.
My exclusive Interview with Matt Leunig Associate Producer of TMNT Smash-Up.
Mike-Sama: First off Matt thank you for taking the time to do this interview.
Matt: Thank you for letting me be your 1st interview. I feel very special and don’t want to blow this.
Mike-Sama: Why did the team at Ubisoft decide to make a new Turtles Fighting Game?
Matt: We had the license and wrapped up the 2007 game based on the movie. That game really came about because there was a movie being released so people were unsure as to what to do next. Our office in San Francisco was able to swoop it up and we knew we wanted to try and make something different. The 25th anniversary was happening and we knew we didn’t have to tie to a specific movie or cartoon release. In the meantime we were talking with GameArts about working on a project together and everything just kind of ended up fitting together. TMNT: Tournament Fighters was the last and only real “turtle vs. turtle”-fighter style game that had come out and the genre was completely unexplored. We are all TMNT fans here and really took a look at a number of different fighting games to pull influence from (Power Stone, Tekken, Street Fighter, DOA, etc.). We approached Mirage and they were into it.
Mike-Sama:How did you decide what characters to include in the game? Were there any characters that you wanted to include but didn’t have time to include them because of deadlines?
Matt: When beginning a game you have to design with a certain scope (schedule, budget, etc.) in mind. Most of the fighting games out there; your Tekken’s, your Smash Bros, your Street Fighters; are all on their 4th or 5th iteration and have had the ability to build their rosters to ridiculous amounts of characters. We knew with this being our 1st iteration of the series that it would be hard to match that. Instead we tried to focus on a few solid characters and wanted to make each feel different. Quality over quantity. Sure some look the same (4 turtles) but each has their own feel to it. When choosing the roster we knew from the start the short list of “must-have” characters that needed to appear and worked directly with Mirage and Peter to choose our final list. Peter has his favorites and we tried to mix it up from different eras of the TMNT history. Some characters didn’t translate well into a fighting game and others just didn’t make the list in the end. I have a number of favorites that unfortunately got the axe in the end, but hey… there is always a next time.
Mike-Sama: Why did you decide to use the 2007 designs instead of say the comic versions or the 2K3 versions?
Matt: We really liked how the 2007 CG models looked compared to the 2k3 series. The CG model were a lot more slimmed down and athletic looking and felt like real ninjas rather than the 2k3 models which were blocky, angular and too muscular looking. They just translated really well into the video game world. We experimented with some other looks but they just looked to odd and ended up using the 2007 models as a base to start from. We took characteristics of characters from the 2k3 series (exp. Shredder, Fugitoid, Foot Soldier, etc..) the 2007 movie (exp. Nightwatcher, April), the toys and the comics and made sure that the models themselves were very expressionate. Everyone has their favorite version of the ninja turtles so we wanted to just get a bit of everything in there.
Mike-Sama: How involved were Peter Laird and the Mirage Team in the development of the game?
Matt: They were there every step of the way. We ran everything through those guys. Everything from character models to storymode ideas to sound effects. Our team here took a number of trips down to Northampton to work in-house with them and showed them the game during different stages of its production cycle. A real treat was working with Eric Talbot, Jim Lawson, Steve Lavigne & Stephen Murphy on the cut-scenes and comicbook that came with the game. We really wanted that old-school look and they dusted off and tracked down the last of the old toning paper they used to use for that signature scratchy zip-a-tone look. We definitely wanted all those guys to be involved from day one.
Mike-Sama:It’s been 25 years since the original comic was released. Fans that grew up with the comic have longed for a darker ninja turtles game. Is there any chance of seeing this happen say in a Assassins Creed style game?
Matt: I would love to see a game like that. It could be rad. It would be a lot more difficult to pull off though. Assassins and Batman and GTA, all these open world stealth-action based games are extremely solo based in their gameplay. The beauty of the turtles and a number of the old TMNT games (arcade) is that you got that feeling of the team by having all 4 turtles going at it at once. That is something that doesn’t really translate over to those more open-world games. Another huge factor is that the age range of TMNT fans is everywhere from little kids to their parents and beyond. Doing a “Mature” rated game chops a huge portion of your fan base out of the equation which video game companies don’t like to hear. I grew up on the darker comics and think a bloody “M” rated would be awesome but another portion of TMNT fans connect more to the 80’s cartoon and others to the 2k3 cartoon series and the goal is to try and please everyone. I will say there is definitely a push lately with the brand to go back to more of its darker roots. I think the new 2011 movie will be a lot more serious and somewhat darker than people expect and future games other turtles related properties will reflect this.
Mike-Sama: Is there any chance Ubisoft would release a complete Original Turtles Game Collection? Pretty much every turtles game that was released on Arcade, NES, Gameboy, SNES, and Genesis?
Matt: That’s tough. We don’t own the rights to those games. Konami does. We worked with them to release the TMNT: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled (XBLA) game that just came out so it is possible. Another problem that comes up is getting the rights to bring games from other platforms (NES, SNES, Gameboy, Genesis, etc..) to other systems that are not Nintendo based. It becomes a legal matter. In the end, something like this depends on the fans. If they clamor enough for a certain title like they did for Turtles in Time people are listening.
Mike-Sama: Now that the Premium Theme is out on Xbox360 can we expect Gamer Pictures any time soon?
Matt: I couldn’t say. Not my dept. But if fans are clamoring for it and the Premium Theme does well, it would definitely make a lot of sense.
Mike-Sama: Would you like to see Peter Laird and the Mirage team stay involved with future turtles games?
Matt: Oh yeah, they have to be. They are the turtles. Without them it doesn’t make sense to make a game. It was a dream for me working with them on this game and they were great to work with. They really gave us access to their huge library of TMNT history. You can be certain that whatever the future holds for TMNT video games Gary, Peter and the Mirage team will be involved.
Mike-Sama: Finally Matt what does the future hold for the Turtles game franchise?
Matt: We’ll see. Unfortunately I don’t have answer for you on that right now. I would love to see more TMNT titles in the near future. I think this 25th Anniversary has rekindled the love for the brand for a lot of people and with the new movie coming up the turtles are gonna be making a big comeback.
It was great to chat Turtles with Matt, he is just as big a fan as the rest of us. So be sure to pick up TMNT Smash-Up for Wii and TMNT Turtles in Time Reshelled on Xbox Live.