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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – GameCube

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – GameCube

TMNT gamecube cover artPlatform: GameCube

Developer: Konami

Publisher: Konami

Release Date (NA): October 21, 2003

Genre: Beat ‘em Up

Nerd Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

“If all else fails then it’s time to kick butt.” – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Cowabunga dude! Nobody knows weapons, surfing, neon bandanas, pizza, or one-liners better than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) video game series was one of the most popular video gaming franchises of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Konami has been the longtime developer and producer of every major TMNT release, not counting the oddball LCD handheld games that we loathed when our parents bought those instead of a Game Gear. The Turtles were going strong eating pizza and jump-high-fiving their way across Shredder’s face from their television debut in the mid ’80s until the show’s cancellation in 1997. The TMNT video game franchise saw no less than 17 releases before the show went off-air. It wouldn’t be long, however, before another TMNT television series made its way onto the screen, and what better way to kick off a TV show than to have a coinciding video game? But first, let’s take a quick glance at TMNT’s brawler roots.

TMNT gamecube Raphael

I recall playing the first TMNT game as a child and vividly remember thinking, “1. HOW FRIGGIN’ AWESOME IS THIS GAME?! And 2. HOW FRIGGIN’ DIFFICULT IS THIS GAME?!” Back in the ‘80s (I feel like I say that a lot), the beat ‘em up genre was just starting to pick up steam and really hit the mainstream at home. The popularity of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the NES and Double Dragon on the Arcade are the probable causes for the hordes of the beat ‘em up games that came out in its wake, such as Altered Beast, Golden Axe, Streets of Rage, Final Fight, Knights of the Round, Battletoads, and so many more. This Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game (often known as TMNT 2003) follows a similar structure and pattern of its 8 and 16-bit counterparts, yet has plenty of variances to make it a new and entirely different video game.

TMNT Gamecube robot dogs

The story of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles closely follows the plot of season one of the 2003 TV show. While training with Master Splinter in their domicile one night, the walls burst open and the turtles are confronted with some strange looking enemies. A horde of dog-looking robots burst through and begin attacking the turtles. While fighting them off with their Ninjitsu talents, the ceiling collapses separating the turtles from Master Splinter. Michelangelo asks “What the shell are those things?” The crew doesn’t know it yet, but these mechanical menaces are the doings of the Purple Dragon gang. The turtles go off on a quest to rescue Master Splinter and stop the Purple Dragon gang… and possibly another evil villain?

Not a terrible story, but it’s really not all that great either. There are some logistical issues here, but hey, we’re playing a game whose main protagonists are turtles… who fight like ninjas… and talk… and walk on 2 feet… and eat pizza with their hands… and… and… well, you get the idea. Reality should be thrown out the window. The really cool thing about the game is that the story progresses as we continue. It is loaded with cutscenes between stages that reveal more of the story as we continue. The mystique is what makes the game great. We don’t really know why this and that are happening unless we continue playing!

Even with subtitles, these scenes feature fully audible voice dubbing.

Even with subtitles, these scenes feature fully audible voice dubbing.

My first impressions upon starting the game are mostly positive. I was instantly drawn into the attractive animation and impressive visuals, noting the incredible 3D graphics taking front and center in this game’s overall presentation. While not given a full cel-shaded presentation, it does appear to have some similar qualities of cel-shading, which lends a hand to its overall appearance. The graphics pop right out at you immediately, but you will also notice the spot-on voice acting and traditional TMNT  humor. These Ninjitsu turtles are as clumsy as they’ve always been, and their bodacious one-liners are as hellacious as before. It was such a great decision to have Konami continue the series because this one is as faithful as any of the previous installments.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is your straight up traditional brawling beat ’em up game and there’s nothing new about how this game plays. You roam the tunnels, streets, and other stages in 1 or 2 player mode armed with your hands, feet, and your respective weapon. Each stage is broken into sections that are blocked off, and these won’t become unblocked until you eliminate all of the enemies on screen. Once all of the enemies are eliminated, you will be able to advance to the next section and fight more bad guys. Sound familiar? That’s because this structure is identical to nearly any beat ’em up game ever created. But this TMNT  has the honor of bringing in a new generation of beat ’em ups that have the added benefit of better technology. The technological capabilities of the GameCube, Xbox, and PlayStation 2 have allowed for some great camera movement, leading to a somewhat different visual presentation over its predecessors. Instead of always scrolling left to right, the camera will often slide behind the player in a 3rd person perspective, and sometimes be in front of the player! This was pretty awesome when I first saw it!

TMNT Gamecube donatello

The gameplay in TMNT  is fantastic, albeit a little simple and repetitive. Granted, this game was created for multiple platforms, but it would have been nice for Konami to have integrated the C-Stick for attacks or blocking or something. You are given the use of only 3 real hand-to-hand combat attack moves, and one projectile attack. A few more attack options would have been nice, but it’s sufficient enough to kick butt! With each attack, your turtle will yell out a one-liner, which doesn’t seem to bother me all that much, but I did notice the limited selection of one-liners. While playing with Michelangelo, he would often say “Mikesaurus!” and “OH! That’s gotta hurt!” and “Sorry!”, sometimes repeating the same one-liner over and over as you press the button repetitively. I mashed the B-button over and over and he yelled “Mikesau… Mikesau… Mikesau… Mikesaurus!” Each time I pressed it, the new command would interrupt the old one, and he would interrupt his one-liner. It was a little odd, but not too annoying. Not until I played with Leonardo and had to hear him yell “Out of my way nimrod!” repeatedly. Ugh. That got quite annoying quite fast.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has a great feel to it. The controls are great and responsive. The best part of the game is the action, which is the focal point of any beat ’em up, and I commend Konami for not straying from the structure that makes these games fun. The locations of the game are really enjoyable as well, fighting in alleys, rooftops, sewer tunnels, laboratories, and many more places. If I could change one thing about TMNT , it would be to add a few more combination attacks. I think what they provide is enough to get the job done, but a few more wouldn’t have hurt anything and it would have given so much more. Okay, and if I could change yet another thing about TMNT , it would be the inclusion of a 4-player mode. While there is a 2-player versus mode, think about how cool a 4-player versus mode would be! Or even taking all 4 turtles to the streets!

TMNT GameCube alley

There are many great things about TMNT  and there are some faults too, but overall, I felt that Konami did a great job here. TMNT  was panned by some critics as being too simple and easy and a bit of a “button-masher.” I would have to agree with them entirely on their statements, but I can’t agree with them as to why that’s a bad thing. Everybody has their own personal tastes in video gaming, but there’s nothing wrong with picking up a controller and playing a button mashing brawler. Not to say TMNT  is mindless by any means, but the button mashing aspect of TMNT  and the simplicity of running around beating the crap out of everyone was more than half the fun.

TMNT GameCube subway

I highly recommend TMNT  to anybody who wants a casual pick-up-and-play fighting game. The voice acting is true to the TV series and the gameplay and music are true to the video game series, so fans of either should be more than pleased. While TMNT  Turtles in Time is often regarded as the best in the series, I think someone should make a case for this GameCube, Xbox, and PlayStation 2 TMNT  2003 game to at least crack the top 5. The name of the game is what brought you here, the battles and the graphics are what will bring you back. Furthermore, I think TMNT  is best played with a friend in 2-player co-op mode. The rip-roaring and hootin’ and hollering of beating the crap out of hordes and hordes of bad guys with one of your best buds is an unbeatable experience! Pull out your 6th generation gaming system and get down on some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

Nerd Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Final Thoughts:

So I was watching Supercop this morning, and it was the first time watching a kung-fu movie in a LONG time. I used to be a big BIG fan of kung-fu movies, new and old, but had lost interest in it for a while. Anyway, after watching Supercop, I just knew I had to play a game with similar traits. There’s always a scene when the protagonist finds himself standing in the middle of the street, or in a warehouse, with a horde of enemies in a circle around him, getting ready for a full mayhem showdown. This TMNT  game reminds me of those scenarios, and I really love how Konami gave it that feel. There are times when the enemies will randomly materialize in a crowd around you and everyone will just stand there… swaying back and forth in anticipation of the ensuing battle. And just like a Jackie Chan movie, the good guy always comes out on top.

I think the ’80s and ’90s were my favorite era for martial arts movies. The digital editing technologies of the 2000s has given editors the ability to have WAY too many cuts, and it takes away the authenticity of the fight. But the ’80s and ’90s were on the edge of great technology, so the visuals of all fights were impeccable. Supercop is just one example of a great Chinese martial arts movie with terribly hilarious English-dubbed voices, humorous acting, and great action! Oh, and a decent story to boot!

Written by Nerdberry


What’s up yall? David “Nerdberry” here! I am the founder of Nerd Bacon and the current co-owner (and CEO) along with partner David “theWatchman!” I hail from North Carolina, hence my love for all things pork! Oh, you’re not familiar with NC? Well I’m not 100% sure, but I am pretty confident that NC and VA lead the nation in pork production. I could be wrong, but even if I am, I still love bacon!

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One Comment

  1. Love me some Supercop aka Police Story 3. The famous scene in IP Man is a good example when a protagonist surrounded by horde of enemies like that. Great review btw.


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