Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Battle Nexus – GBA – Review

There was a time in the
Eighties when the Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles were everywhere.  Having been a
successful underground comic book, the Turtles became a phenomenon that gave
birth to two motion pictures, action figures, a Saturday morning cartoon and, of
course a video game on the original Nintendo system.  I mean, really, who
couldn’t resist the offbeat story of four mutated teenaged turtles that fought
for truth, justice and a large pepperoni pizza?  The fires of their popularity
diminished for a long while but the four half-shelled heroes return thanks to a
Fox Kids Saturday morning cartoon and new games that have been released across
all the major consoles.  Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles 2: Battle Nexus on
the Game Boy Advance is the latest chapter, but do the Turtles still have what
it takes to get out of the sewer?


Battle Nexus
finds the four young turtles (Leonardo,
Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo) in a serious jam when they are teleported
to a strange alien city in some unknown planet.  Lost and confused, the four
heroes soon come to the aid of a robot named Fugitoid that’s being chased by
armed soldiers.  The Turtles discover that Fugitoid is really Professor
Honeycutt, a scientist that is well-versed in teleportation technology and is
the only man, err, robot, that can help them get back home.  In order to do
that, though, they must help the Professor collect enough ancient crystals to
power the teleportation device.  To make matters worse, arch nemesis Shredder
and his cyborg henchman Stockman are behind the Turtles disappearance.


Reminiscent of the
original NES Konami game, Battle Nexus’ single player Story mode has you
choosing any of the four Turtles to complete a series of stages.  For those of
you who don’t remember who is who in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles universe,
allow me to give you a quick rundown of each Turtle, his own skill and weapon of
preference.  Leonardo, the leader, favors his trusty katana while Donatello, the
tech geek, uses a Bo staff.  Then there’s Raphael who had a wild streak and uses
two very sharp Sais and finally Michelangelo (who is also the party animal of
the group) uses nunchaku.  Aside from the weapons, each Turtle has his own
unique stills that become useful in each mission you gamers can’t get away with
simply going through the whole game playing as one particular TMNT.  For
example, one stage can only be completed by using Raphael since he could use his
Sais to scale walls.



The game’s stages go from
enemy bases to outdoor setting but the majority of the game requires you to
collect a certain number of crystals to successfully complete the stage.  One
stage might have you kicking the tail of any enemy soldier or Triceratron
soldiers (basically half-men and half-Triceratops) you come across while in
another stage you’ll be creeping around avoiding enemy cameras much like the GBA
versions of the Splinter Cell games.  To spice up the stages, though, the
Turtles also get to man the guns of a spaceship or use a Muta-Board (sort of
like a hover board).  It’s not a bad variety, actually.


Combat is pretty
straightforward even with the multitude of attack combos each Turtle possesses. 
You’ll be tempted to play the game using only Leonardo and Raphael mainly
because Leonardo’s katana makes it easier to hit enemies and because Raphael’s
wall-climbing ability is necessary to complete stages that need you to get those
hard to reach areas.  Both Donatello and Michelangelo don’t make as much an
impact as the other two combat-wise but Donatello can use his staff to vault
himself to higher ground while Michelangelo can throw his nunchakus like a
boomerang (which makes him practically useless since all the TMNT have throwing
stars (or, in ninja terms, Shuriken).


As cool as all of these
features sound, it’s the execution that fails to bring us a game that’s as fresh
as it is from beginning to end.  Sure it has an abundance of stages but it
becomes less a challenge and more a lesson in frustration the deeper into the
game you go.  While there’s a nice assortment of attack combos, they really
don’t feel like you’re executing a unique move since all it does is knock a
soldier down (you’ll have to hit the enemy more than twice to really defeat
them)–it also becomes repetitive.  The controls can also be a hindrance because
they aren’t responsive enough.  When I attempted to hide from the surveillance
cameras, instead of moving into the shadows my Turtle jumped into the
spotlight.  The game is also pretty hard even in the normal setting but what
makes the game really difficult is the scattered crystals that are sometimes
places in obscured locations.



The multiplayer modes are
a welcome, addition, though.  Up to four players (using a GBA Link Cable and a
copy of the same game for each player) can take each another on in Race Mode
(which has all four Turtles racing each another using the Muta-Board) and Battle
Mode (try to clear an area and beat a friend’s completion time).  The good news
is that there are many areas and maps to use in both Race and Battle Modes.


Battle Nexus
is also not a bad-looking GBA game either
and you’ll know it the minute the cut scenes finish and you’re in the more
elaborate-looking environments.  The cut scenes look like stills from the new
cartoons and not the old comic books so fans of the old TMNT are in for a
disappointment.  These are the cuter Turtles that look pretty good during the
game’s action as does enemies (especially the really big ones like the stage


The game’s music doesn’t
get on your nerves and that’s a good thing because the tempo of the game’s tunes
never really changes while playing the game.  There’s all the usual platform
action game sound effects but fails to capture the other little details (for
example, when a Turtle falls into an electrical panel there isn’t any sizzling
sound or sounds of crackling electricity).  The only voices you’ll hear come in
song form when you manage to get all the crystals in a given stage.


Teenage Mutant Ninja
Turtles 2: Battle Nexus
has all the
right elements that make up a really great GBA action game featuring the TMNT,
but it all falls flat thanks to its biggest flaws.  This is upsetting since the
multiplayer mode has a lot to offer and the main Story Mode has an abundance of
stages to play through.  Yet all of this just doesn’t work without responsive
controls, an unusually hard Normal setting and weak combat.  Sorry but these
Turtles aren’t ready to come out of their shell yet. 


Scoring Details for

Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Battle Nexus


Gameplay: 6.0
Aside from the fact that you have to
slice or thump a bad guy multiple times before he blinks out of existence, the
TMNT have their own unique fighting skills that come off almost perfectly and
that’s not bad for a Game Boy Advance game.  The stages are plentiful but start
feeling less and less exciting really quickly–thankfully there are some stages
where you use vehicles.


Graphics: 7.0
Pretty and colorful, Battle Nexus
has some nice visuals on the GBA.  The Turtles look great performing their
combos and the flashy effects are wonderful.  As for the cut scenes, they’re not
bad if you like the new cartoons.  The stage bosses are huge and practically
fill the screen.


Sound: 7.0
The tunes are pretty rocking even
though there isn’t much of a variety.  The sound effects are okay, although it
would have been cool to hear more than just the sounds of the Turtles beating on
enemies.  Thankfully, you’ll also be spared of hearing the word “Cowabunga!”
over and over again like the console versions.


Difficulty: Hard
Even in the Normal setting the game
is pretty hard.  The difficulty comes from the some really odd places you’ll
find some crystals and the fact that while our half-shelled heroes have a nice
assortment of combat moves they need to hit a simple soldier multiple times to
defeat him.


Concept: 6.5
The NES original was pretty fun
since it implemented all the TMNT in some good old-fashioned arcade action and
this ones, especially on the GBA, comes close to recreating that.  You’ll love
the multiplayer mode but come to dislike the repetitiveness of the single player


Multiplayer: 7.5
While you can’t have a friend (or up
to four players in total) play along with you in the single player mode, Battle
Mode and Race Mode are a nice break since there are plenty of maps (plus secret
ones to unlock). It’s not bad . . . it’s not bad at all.


Overall: 6.5
Battle Nexus
is not the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles best
effort but if you’re looking for a slightly better version of the game I suggest
you forget the console versions and pick this one up instead.  It’s old-school
charm and decent multiplayer mode offer a better alternative even with all the
things that hold it back from being an instant classic.  Yet speaking as a fan,
I would skip this one and wait for Konami to release one that’s true its
superior original.