Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Battle Nexus

Getting right to the point, I’ve loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for as long as I can remember. I always had the newest toys when they came out, I own all three movies and the soundtrack from the second. I even went to the freaking live concert and still own the cassette tape of said concert. Even to this day do I frequently obsess about the TMNT. I visit the website regularly, own the first couple waves of toys, and watch the show whenever I get the chance. And of course, combining my two greatest obsessions, I own all the newer TMNT video games.

If you’ve read my Christmas article, you know I got the first set of games around December 25th of last year, and how I loved them so. The GBA game, in my opinion, was right up there at the top of the “best GBA games ever” list. It was the perfect beat ’em up side-scroller, with excellent graphics and a great aural experience to boot. I played it through several times, and even my brother who doesn’t really like video games (particularly of the side-scrolling sort) got really wrapped up in it at one point. So could Konami pull through and make the sequel better? Take a look at the box art, and judge this book by it’s cover.

Does it not scream intense? The last game’s box art was kind of disappointing and plain, but the moment I saw this one I thought “Wow. This game is going to kick ass. The box alone looks like it’s going to kick ass.” But enough about the box art. It’s only so relevant. Though probably the most entertaining picture that’s going to appear in this article. You’ll also notice that It proudly displays 4-player action on the corner there, though for some reason they made the French part to be more outstanding to the eyes than the English. Anyhow, they’re really trying to promote the ability to have 4 players with the new releases. Probably because the first games had very little opportunity for multiplayer. The console had only 2-players at max, and the GBA version was single player only. It’s a great feature, considering the material, and coincides with Nintendo’s newfound obsession with playing together. (Not that they never cared about it before, they’re just really going at it now)

So with the sweet-ass box art and a new multiplayer feature, you’re definitely wondering by now how Battle Nexus stands up to its older brother. While I’d love to say that the second game is without a doubt leagues better than the first, it’s just different enough that you can’t properly compare the two. Whether you like Battle Nexus or the first game better will overall depend on what kind of game you like, because although they are similar in many ways, the differences really set them apart and make them two entirely different games. In other words, this game takes the foundation that the first laid down and builds it up way into space.

Oh and speaking of into space, I guess that’s where I’ll start. As the first game covered the major events of the first season of the show, Battle Nexus highlights the bigger events of the second season. Or at least the first half of said season. The game opens with a recap of how the first season ended and the second started, with the Turtles being teleported to a planet galaxies away and saving the Fugitoid from both those evil Federation guys and the Triceratons. Right now, you’d probably want to have seen at least two or three episodes of the show to have any idea what I’m talking about. In any case, that’s about as far as they follow the actual plot set forth by the show.

So after that, you get to the start screen. Ooh. Lightning. Then it’s start new game and such, and you’re treated to a really long (and the only, so far) cutscene that fleshes out the more skewered story. You see, while it follows the basic plot of the cartoon, they changed it around a lot so that they had something to make a decent game out of. In this story, the Turtles and the Fugitoid escape to a secret lab. There, they can use Fugitoid’s teleportal to go hunting around for crystals to power up the teleportal, because it can only get you so far without the proper amount of crystal energy. But then the biggest fault in the game comes into play.

Somehow, back on Earth, Baxter Stockman has managed to hack into the teleportal’s system and made it so that when a turtle uses the teleportal, he will be taken to his destination, but his weapon(s) will be teleported some distance away. How he managed to do this, I’ll never know. I guess you could find plausibility in it because (bigass spoiler, if you care) Shredder is an Utrom and has all that knowledge and stuff about how life does actually exist on other planets, plus all the technology necessary to make something that could affect something that far away. Oh and I guess I should mention that instead of the Turtles being teleported from the basement of the TCRI building (the Utrom’s Earth base), they just get magically warped right out of their lair out of the blue. Oh. Wait. Maybe it was Shredder’s doing. I can’t really remember. It was a really long cutscene.

Either way, once you’ve cleared the hurdle that is picking your difficulty level, you get to choose which mode you want to play. There are three, and I’ll start with the obvious choice. Like I said earlier, you’re mission is to warp into enemy territory, steal crystals, and go. It’s a simple task, and made simpler in easy mode, because you don’t actually have to get the crystals to progress, but you do only get to play the first three of five worlds. A fair trade, I’d say. The greatest thing about this game is that it’s at least twice as long as the first. Maybe. I’m not sure, because I don’t want to do the math. The first game had 17 levels (including bosses and vehicle levels), and this one has 5 worlds with 6 levels apiece. So that’s like 30 or something. And as with the first, there may be more once you’ve completed all the standard levels. I don’t know. I haven’t gotten that far yet.

I mentioned earlier that when the Turtles would teleport, their weapons would be taken somewhere different, no? Well, that’s the biggest problem and genre-changer for this game. In this game you start every level sans-weapons, with only an infinite number of shuriken to defend yourself. Needless to say, shuriken are pitifully weak. So your first objective is to get to your weapon. Just because Metal Gear Solid was such a huge success doesn’t mean that Konami has to start incorporating stealth into every second game they make. Boktai was understandable, but not Ninja Turtles. Yes, ninjas do play the stealth card frequently, but Ninja Turtles games have always been about busting heads and such. Not hiding in doorways to elude security. They did it well, but I’d still prefer more action.

Oops. There’s the Metal Gear again. At least the level design is really good. The way the last game worked, you had a set of levels for each Turtle, but in this one you get to use any Turtle in any level. So with that in mind, they made every level with puzzles and spots that could only be solved with specific Turtles, so you have to play through each “on foot” (more on that in a while) level with at least two Turtles if you’re out to get every last crystal, which is requisite for any progress in hard mode. It adds a little bit of life to the game, and the levels are rather big and allow for a lot of exploring so it doesn’t get too dull.

So as I was saying, the shuriken blow as weapons, and you really can’t do much until you’ve gotten your weapon. Chances are, if you try to kill something without your weapon, you’re going to get killed. You could always be really careful and throw a star, hide, throw a star, hide, and so forth, but that takes forever. Luckily, grabbing the weapon makes everything so much easier. Enemies will fall with minimal effort, and you’ll be kicking ass all over the place. On easy, that is. The game is actually quite difficult on normal, and I can’t imagine what horrors reside in hard mode. Triceraton soldiers are an actual threat on normal mode, and in situations where you have one on each side of you, you’re pretty much screwed. The other enemies aren’t that bad, but bosses can show you a thing or two about getting your ass kicked. More on those guys later.

A little ninja action and even more MGS reference. In the next game the Turtles are going to be communicating by codec and April will recite famous quotes and proverbs when you save. Yes, enough of that, it’s time I told you about the levels where you don’t run about slicing things apart. Every world has three normal action stages, two vehicle stages, and a boss stage. And there are several kinds of vehicle stages. The first is the muta-board stage. Pretty much just jumping and shooting anything that comes at you, but there is a tough mini-boss in the second one. There isn’t much to say about it, except for that it’s probably where the idea for Race Mode (more later) came from.

There are also some mini-ship levels. I’m not sure what they’re really called, but the thing looks like a little spaceship, but isn’t, cause it doesn’t go into space. Whatever it is, the levels play out kind of like R-Type, with the side-scrolling shooting and all. Notably, the third boss is fought in this kind of level. Lastly, there are real spaceship levels. Which are just simple rail shooters. Just aim and shoot. Enjoyable, and it gets pretty frantic if you’re playing anything above easy mode. There may be different kinds of vehicle levels later on, but I’m not that far yet. Only finished easy mode and the first world on normal up to this point.

I think I mentioned that the bosses are tough, right? Well if not, I’m tellin’ you now. The bosses of Battle Nexus are no picnic. Of course, everything I type from this point will be in reference to normal mode, because easy mode is easy all around. The first boss is the huge sewer worm thing seen in the first or second episode of the second season. He rolls around, shoots, and chews on your head. Not a huge trouble, but you won’t beat him without taking damage. The second guy is the real trouble spot. Beating his is hard enough, because he’s got a really big hammer, and it hurts. The worst part is that you have to beat him with Mikey at one point to collect all the crystals, and Mikey, well, we’ll say Mikey isn’t exactly the strongest of the four terrapins. I just managed to scrape by with Leo, who is the strongest, and it took me at least ten tries to do it. The third boss, the spasmosaur (fought in the Triceraton gladiator pit on the show) isn’t too tough, because it’s a shooting level, and once you’ve learned a safe spot, you’re good to go. I haven’t seen what the next two worlds have in store, but I’m pretty sure that the Shredder’s going to be in there at least twice. And he was hard as Hell to beat in the first game.

Take the advice. There is no satisfaction in beating Easy mode unless you’re as completist as I am. You do get a password for the GC version, and it’s not a bad password at that, but still. Easy mode is a bit too easy. I don’t think I died even once. But I digress, because there is still much more that needs to be reviewed. Though I’m thinking that thins is getting to be just a little long. I’m around 2100 words now, and I can tell that there are going to be quite a few more, because there’s tons more material to be covered. And you know what happened last time I wrote something that ended up being twice as long as a normal article. That’s right! I didn’t just put that picture that says “To be continued” there for kicks. It’s time for another two-pager, people. So click below and zoom to my favourite was of artificially making my articles look super-long!

(pretend there’s a link to a new page here

Ah. It’s been way too long since I’ve written a proper article, never mind a whole two-pager. If you somehow got to this page first, I’m not sure what the shell you did, but don’t do it again. You’re scaring me. Anyway, on the previous page, I summarized what makes the story mode go round. If I had been reviewing the first TMNT game for the GBA, I’d be done by now, but Battle Nexus has a lot more going for it.

After you’ve had enough fooling around with the Story mode, there are still plenty of challenges for you, and possibly some of your friends to try to accomplish. Firstly, if you haven’t done so, you can go through all of the levels and collect every last crystal lying around. And if you’re completist like me, you’ll even go so far as to finish every level with all four Turtles. That could take a long damn time, so I don’t suggest trying it unless you plan to have a lot of time on your hands. Or, you could just move on and start playing through one of the secondary game modes: Race Mode and Battle Mode.

First up is Race Mode. It’s probably not exactly what you’re expecting. I bet you’re thinking a crappy wannabe kart racer? No? Well, yes, it is back to the Muta-boards for the boys in green. All it is is the four Turtles racing against each other for some sort of glory. Maybe it’s what they do in their free time. Maybe it’s just something Konami thought would be fun. To their credit, it is pretty fun. Until about race 4 or so, where it starts getting tough.

Yay. Look at all of that fun. But really, it’s a simple game. No real attacking or anything. Just holding the “gas” and jumping when necessary. But there are a couple little elements that can give you the edge or destroy you completely. And they take form of coloured ground panels. Basically what happens is that when you drive over these panels, you can press down and get some sort of bonus thing. For example, blue makes you go real fast, and red makes you kill any turtle who you come in contact with. Some are a little more complicated, like yellow which launches you over walls too high to leap normally. This would be fine, but you need precise timing, or you’ll just be flung into the side of the wall.

Reminds me of something blue… something about a hedgehog… But at least in this game you can go fast and not really have to worry about dying. There are 15 courses available, and according to the manual, if you manage to tough it through them all you get to see an ending of some sort. Also, if you manage to do well in the GCN version, you can get some passwords to unlock three bonus courses. It’s not much, but it beats the hidden bike race mode from the first game. That wasn’t fun at all.

But if you don’t like the racing too much, you can go to a seriously challenging mode: the Battle Mode. It’s laid out exactly like Race Mode, in that there are 15 levels, an ending, and three unlockable levels. Or arenas, or maps, or whatever they call them. The thing I’m most worried about right now is the fact that they called it Battle Mode when in reality, there isn’t much battling. In fact, in this mode you want to avoid battling as much as you possibly can. Maybe it was named more for the multiplayer version. I don’t know, I’m not a doctor. What I do know is that it’s time for the next picture.

The goal of Battle Mode is to collect so many crystals in a short span of time. At first it’s pretty easy, but then they throw in Triceratons and blocks that need breaking. Some levels even just have a lot of springs that you need to find away to navigate around. And after you’ve finished a map or whatever, they give you a second, harder challenge. I don’t think the second rounds need to be completed, but it sure adds a lot of difficulty to the game. I’ve yet to finish either the Battle Mode or Race mode yet, so I’m not sure what the caliber of these supposed endings are, but I’m going to guess that they won’t be much more than a picture that says “Congratulations!” or “You’re the Race/Battle Champion!”. Really, they’re just extra modes thrown in to add multiplayer and a couple more hours to the game’s life, so you can’t really expect much. They are entertaining though, and sever well as an entertaining break from having to find your weapon in every damn level.

Oh yes, I never yet mentioned that if you get to close to a Triceraton, he will grab you by the neck and bite off your face. At least I assume that’s what’s going on. The animation makes it look so, and it takes off a pretty huge chunk of your life bar, so I’ll stick with it for now. Ooh… And speaking of right now, I think I had a little too much candy… It’s time for me to take a little break from the old writing that I’ve been doing inconsistently all day. I’ll be back before you know it, because let’s face it, no matter how long I’m gone, it’s not like I can really make a commercial break happen as soon as you’re done reading this here paragraph.

(Returns 27 minutes later, having emptied the bowels and completed Battle Mode.)

Well, I finished Battle Mode, and I must say, I was definitely expecting too much from the “ending”. All you get is character art of your chosen Turtle over a background of his weapon and some pretty confetti. It didn’t even say “Congratulations”. I would normally say something along the lines of “That was totally not worth it.”, but indeed it was, as it provided me with material enough for an extra filler paragraph. Because we all know that this second page is definitely not going to be either as high or mighty as the first was. I suspect that Race Mode will yield the exact same results, but perhaps with a different character pose. Oh, right. I got a password too. Not sure what it does, but it had better be good. It’s not on the code list at GameFAQs, so I can only assume that I am the first person ever to finish Battle Mode.

So, now that we’ve seen all the game’s content, it’s time to do the actual review. I think I always start this part with that sentence or a paraphrase of it. I mean, there has got to be something more original to say. Well, I’ll figure that out if I ever review anything again. As usual, I’mma start with the graphics. Just like the first game, they’re fabulous. Character sprites are large and well animated. Each turtle has tons of original animations, (on a side note, they all swim the same except for Donatello, who really gives ‘er.) The bosses are huge, and tend to launch a lot of projectiles, and so far I haven’t noticed any slowdown at all. Backgrounds are good-looking and interactive, but even thought they take place in two different locations, the first and second worlds look way too similar.

Sound-wise, the game is pretty good. The butchered intro is gone and replaced with a quaint recap of events leading up to the game, and is fully voiced by all four Turtles and the Shredder. Of course, all the voices are the same actors from the show, and it manages to work out very well, with only the slightest bit of fuzz. Of course, you also get the various Turtle voice samples throughout the game, and the stage clear “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!” clip. Sound effects are where they should be, with metal-on-metal clangs, laser guns, and other assorted thwacking sounds. The music is decent enough, but barely memorable. It all fits, but it’s nothing you’re going to be humming afterward. You’re probably best just to turn down the sound and put on some headphones.

The gameplay is the most important part, and there’s a lot to cover. The mini-games come first, as they provide mostly backup and multiplayer. They’re pleasant distractions from the main game, but not much else. If they were a little more fleshed-out, they could probably last by themselves, but as it stands, mini-games are what they were made for, and all they’ll ever be. The main game has been slowed down a lot since last year’s entry, with the emphasis being mostly on stealth rather than fighting off scores of punks and ninjas. It’s still fun, but it doesn’t feel like Ninja Turtles until you’ve gotten the weapon. Plus, enemies are usually few, with no more than two ever attacking at a time. On the upside, these enemies are a lot more deadly than those from the first game, so it evens out in the end. The vehicle levels are good fun, and serve the good purpose of keeping the game mostly action-oriented. The game offers a significant challenge, and might be even too hard on hard mode. I’ve yet to give it a go.

Other things to note are that the controls are mostly spot-on, except sometimes it’s hard to attack and run away before you get clobbered by a hammer or get your face eaten off by a Triceraton. In the first three worlds, there is not a single mouser to be seen. It’s kind of expected, but TMNT games, since back in the NES days, have been all about clobbering hordes of mousers for me, so I’m slightly disappointed. There are still two worlds to go though, so I’ve still got hope.

Overall, it’s a great game. If you enjoyed the first game, you’ll probably have a blast with this one too. The stealth aspect is annoying at first, but MGS fans should get a kick out of it. I know it was totally worth my money, and the only thing I still yearn to see is more connectivity between the GBA and GC versions besides the password trade-offs. There wasn’t anything disappointing, so I’m not going to make up anything just so I can tack something negative onto the conclusion. Straight up, it’s a solid game and deserves a spot in the libraries of any gamers who enjoy platformers and/or beat ’em ups. And I’m under 200 words away from 2000 on this page, so I’ve gone and rambled enough to fill up two pages to my personal expectations. I guess there’s only one thing left to do. And that’s knowledge that you just wasted (x) minutes/hours of your life reading this tripe. It’s not so bad I probably spent about 4 times that much writing it.

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