TMNT Arcade: Wrath Of The Mutants Review — It’s Not Cowabunga

Nostalgia isn't enough to save it from its emptiness.

TMNT Arcade: Wrath Of The Mutants Review
Overall
2.5
  • Gameplay
  • Visuals And Performance

Verdict

With hollow gameplay and monotonous design choices, TMNT Arcade: Wrath of the Mutants rides the nostalgia train but delivers nothing.

Pros

  • Easy To Get Into
  • Engaging Local Co-Op
  • Appealing Art Style

Cons

  • Lack Of Mechanical Depth
  • Repetitive And Uninspiring Design
  • Overly Simplified Difficulty Concept
  • Too Short

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were my childhood. From watching their escapades on the television to getting into the games, it never changed. I still fondly remember my first game, TMNT 2003, which brought me into the gaming side of this franchise, and I can’t tell you how splendid that game was for me. Those feelings haven’t changed.

Key Takeaways
  • Developer: Raw Thrills, Cradle Games
  • Publisher: GameMill Entertainment
  • Release Date: April 23, 2024
  • Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC
  • Game Length: ~2 hours
  • Time Played: 4+ hours
  • Editors Note: Special thanks to GameMill Entertainment for providing us the review code weeks before emabrgo.

The arcade revival in the form of Shredder’s Revenge was probably one of the highest moments for the series in recent times. And now, we’ve got a new one I plan to go through today, TMNT Arcade: Wrath of the Mutants.

Story And Setting

The minimal Story (image by eXputer)
Story And Setting (image by eXputer)

Before I begin, I should let you know that this game is a port of the 2017 arcade game of the same name and is based on the design and stories of the 2012 Nickelodeon show. However, in this adventure, the story is practically non-existent. You get a very vague context through some dialogues and still comics.

If you’re here for a narrative-focused TMNT game or at least want some form of story to explain your actions, I’ll humbly suggest turning back.

Gameplay

Leonardo's Turtle Power (image by eXputer)
Gameplay (image by eXputer)

First, let me run you through the basics. TMNT Arcade: Wrath of the Mutants is a 2D side-scrolling beat ’em up game, where you run through six levels filled with multiple enemies that you have to eliminate, get to the boss, put it out of its misery and you’re done. The whole thing will take you about 2 hours at best.

I’m just mindlessly mashing attacks, killing one enemy after the other and then the boss, it all feels so mechanistic and formulaic.

Since it’s a beat ’em up game, you have an attack button you can mash to, well, beat ’em up. In addition, you get a jump button, and certain items and power-ups to help you clear the enemies. The items include throwables like dust bins and peculiar stones, and the power-ups include calling in allies to help or making you spin on your shell to hit everyone around you.

Boss fights (image by eXputer)
Boss fights (image by eXputer)

One more weapon you have on your side is the “Turtle Power.” Hit enough enemies and gather powerups, and your turtle power gauge fills up, which deals a huge amount of damage to enemies and bosses.

There are boss fights, two at every level. One occurs at the midpoint, and the second signifies the end of the level. There are a total of six levels, five of which are available from the start. Once you clear these, the sixth one is unlocked, housing none other than Shredder himself.

The Game Took Simplicity A Little Too Far

There’s a single attack button, and the concept of combos or move variations is practically non-existent. You can either mash attack or close up and grab an enemy, but that’s all. I mean, I’m just mindlessly mashing attacks, killing one enemy after the other and then the boss; it all feels so mechanistic and formulaic.

The levels are pretty short and can even be a desirable factor for those who do not need complex controls.

It’s the same for all the 4 beloved Turtles, no matter who you pick. Other than the visual difference in attacks, the mechanics themselves are all the same. And the fact that everyone just keeps saying the same few lines doesn’t help it, either. There’s not a shred of the versatile personalities of the four brothers I know and love.

Playable Characters (image by eXputer)
Playable Characters (image by eXputer)

Plus, all the enemies may look different, but at the end of the day, their moveset is extremely limited. Similarly, every boss has about three moves. One ranged attack, one close-range hit, and one ground pound you can dodge with a jump, nothing else.

Disappointing enemy variations (image by eXputer)
Disappointing enemy variations (image by eXputer)

On the plus side, this repetition never overstays its welcome. The levels are pretty short and can even be a desirable factor for those who do not need complex controls. However, the fact remains that there’s no mechanical complexity or the “fun” factor in the gameplay.

Any Form Of Meaningful Difficulty Is Completely Off The Table

For me, the aspect of fun comes either from mechanical variety and room for experimentation, or a worthy challenge. Unfortunately, TMNT Arcade: Wrath of the Mutants has neither.

TMNT Arcade: Wrath of the Mutants makes sure you never feel challenged in any way. The foes’ and bosses’ moves are one way to do this, while the other is to hold your hand with power-ups on every corner. Every subsequent section you enter, there’s at least one powerup lying around that you can use. 

Game-breaking power-ups (image by eXputer)
Game-breaking power-ups (image by eXputer)

Many of the power-ups are straight-up guaranteed room-clear. And if there isn’t one around, you can just rely on the good old Turtle Powerup to do the work for you.

Local Co-Op is a redemption, but not enough to save it.

These special attacks are overpowered to a fault, capable of even freezing the bosses amid their attacks.

Screen-clearing allies (image by eXputer)
Screen-clearing allies (image by eXputer)

On top of that, you have janky animations and bizarre hitboxes you can’t make out. Clunky movement and jump animations make some attacks connect even if you think you dodged them. Considering there’s no dodge button, and jump’s all you got, it’s frustration overload.

There’s a silver lining to it all, which is the four-player local co-op. TMNT Arcade: Wrath of the Mutants has a lot of problems, but it’s all a little more bearable if you have a friend alongside you. Local Co-Op is a redemption, but not enough to save it.

Local Co-Op gameplay (image by Us)
Local Co-Op gameplay (image by eXputer)

Visuals And Performance

Appealing Art Style (image by Us)
Visuals And Performance (image by eXputer)

Since the gameplay was such a mess, I bet you’re thinking the visuals would be the same. Well, I think things are slightly different here. If you enjoyed the art style of the 2012 animated show, I’m sure there’s plenty for you to like here, ignoring janky animations and cluttered screens.

As I’ve mentioned the levels in this game are as short as they come, but the background design of the environments is surely commendable. All six levels come with unique art and stills that populate the backdrop as you keep on moving. 

If you enjoyed the art style of the 2012 animated show, I’m sure there’s plenty for you to like here, ignoring janky animations and cluttered screens.

However, the design of the enemies, and even the turtles’ attacks, is fairly hollow, just a spectacle and nothing more. In fact, it felt downright childish at points, but not exactly a negative.

As for the performance, well, you’ll be relieved to know that for the first time, I have no complaints with TMNT Arcade: Wrath of the Mutants. I’ve played the game on a modest PC, and yet the game runs flawlessly at 60 fps with no dips. A shame everything else had to be so problematic.

Verdict

Verdict (image by eXputer)
Verdict (image by eXputer)

All in all, I went into this game expecting another Shredder’s Revenge or the Cowabunga collection but came out very disappointed. With hollow gameplay and monotonous design choices, TMNT Arcade: Wrath of the Mutants rides the nostalgia train but delivers nothing.

That was all about my TMNT Arcade: Wrath of the Mutants review. In case I managed to intrigue you with my analysis, I hope you’ll consider reading some more of our reviews.

This is box title
Get This Game
If you’re a hardcore TMNT fan and enjoy a short casual game in local co-op.
Dont Get This Game
If you value mechanical complexity and seek an enjoyable, challenging game.
Do I Need To Get This Game
No, I’ll recommend sticking to the Shredder’s Revenge or the Cowabunga collection for a much better experience.
Alternative Games
  • TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge
  • TMNT: The Cowabunga Collection
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003)
  • Streets of Rage 4
  • Battletoads
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Hanzala is a dedicated writer who expresses his views as opinion pieces at eXputer. He's always been fascinated by gaming and has been an avid consumer of many different genres for over a decade. His passion for games has him eager to encounter the latest RPGs and actively look for new Soulslike to challenge. He puts forth his experience and knowledge of gaming into captivating opinion pieces.

Experience: 8+ months || Education: Bachelors in Chemistry.

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