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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Mutant Nightmare

There are two types of players who are going to either want to play or purchase TMNT 3: Mutant Nightmare. Those who are current fans of the cartoon series, and those who were fans when they were much younger and wish to get a little taste of nostalgia. Along with this, there are two types of reactions that one will have when playing TMNT 3; one will giggle with glee as they make their way through interactive episodes that they've seen on TV. The other will look with dismay at what they are playing; realizing that the TMNT game they played on NES was about on thousand times more difficult and for that matter, more enjoyable.

Two main gameplay modes exist in Mutant Nightmare; one is the story mode which has you working your way through episodes of the TV show, with some action mixed into it. The story progresses through not only animated cut scenes from the episode story arc that is being told, but for some strange reason through blurry CGI sequences made specifically for the game. While I applaud the inclusion of the addition scenes to help out the uninitiated to the new Turtle universe, the jarring transition between animation and CGI took some getting used to.

The other mode of play is a free battle mode, which is unlocked as your progress through the story mode. The only real reason why I can see the inclusion of this additional mode is to extend the short game life of this title by forcing you to play through this mode in order to collect all items. Sure in Free Battle the enemies are more difficult which is a blessing, and you won't have to sit through the cinematics. What you will do however is play through the same levels that you just completed, simply for the sake of playing the game more.

The usual cast of characters is present throughout the game, all four of the Ninja Turtles are present, as is April, Casey, Splinter of course Shredder and his dreaded Foot Clan. This time however each separate episode in the game will take you through the story ultimately ending in a confrontation with a boss at the end, be it Shredder or Ultimate Drako. You'd think that with a varied story setting that the number and types of enemies you encounter would be numerous, not the case here. Sure each episode has a different looking enemy, but what it really boils down to is you fight against a grunt that prefers melee weapons, one who prefers a gun, and a third type who prefers to toss explosives at you.

I'll touch on the actual gameplay for a moment as it really isn't all that bad. You select your preferred Ninja Turtle and instead of having to take on the hoards on minions by yourself, you get to fight with the entire team. The AI of your teammates is actually quite high, as they do a fair share of bad guy pummeling and when left to their own devices can clear out a level by themselves, as well as initiate a devastating team attack. The downside to a smart group of computer controlled characters is that levels blow by very quickly, extremely quickly. It's not uncommon for a level to be over within 2 minutes of starting it; I guess that's why there are so many levels in the game (over 50).

The one reason why nostalgic gamers are likely to pick up this title is for the inclusion of an emulated version of TMNT: Turtles in Time. Yes, that's right the four player quarter muncher that ate your paper route money. It's very playable here, but for those who are expecting an exact replica of the game you wasted your Mom's birthday money on, don't expect it. The game's music and voice work has been redone to match the current generation of Ninja Turtles. Admittedly you're probably not going to notice this unless you heard about it somewhere else, or you've been recently playing Turtles in Time, but it's still a disappointment.

The game looks very similar to other recent console adaptations of the Ninja Turtle world, with a highly stylized 3D animated look. Colors are bright and crisp (unless you're watching a CGI clip), and the animation is quite smooth. While it all seems quite nice, it does seem to look a little dated and could probably benefit from an update.

The arcade port looks exactly how I remember it to look, colors are bright, the Foot Clan explode when you kill them and get all nice and highly pixilated when you toss them at the screen. If it wasn't for the audio changes, this would be fantastic.

The audio is essentially what you'd expect from an over the top videogame of an over the top cartoon. Voices are exaggerated yet fit perfectly with the title. Since most of the cut scenes are directly lifted from the animated series, the voice work there is on par with the show, and even the horrific CGI sections are nicely voiced.

The music in the game is a very forgettable generally high tempo beat to keep you moving through the game. But as mentioned, the levels are so short that by the time you get into a tune, the level switches to a summary screen and the music changes again.

As mentioned, two camps of players will try this game out. The younger set will probably get a kick out of beating the shell (pun intended, and overused in the game) out of the Triceratons, and Bishop and his secret army as they've grown up with this. While the older generation looking for a blast from the past will be confused, left wondering where Bebop and RockSteady are. They will almost certainly be left disappointed at the changes made to the classic arcade title, even though it is still here in a highly enjoyable and playable state.

The real bonus for this type of release would be the adult gamer who has children in the age range that enjoy the current Ninja Turtles, as they could commission their kids to play through the game an unlock Turtles in Time. Doing this would eliminate the confusion of new characters for the adult gamer, and satisfy the younger set essentially bridging the generation gap with a single title. Rent it.