As the 2003 animated series came into its own and continued to prove the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle franchise was far from finished, a second video game based on the show was also released, breathing extended life into the interactive side of the turtles. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Battle Nexus was released for all major gaming platforms, bringing the second season of the new hit show into fans’ hands nationwide.
The game begins with the turtles learning of the Utrom at the T.C.R.I. building, and stumbling upon the Fugitoid, the Triceratons, and the intergalactic ninja Slashuur, all while being teleported around the galaxy. After returning to Earth, the turtles learn about Shredder’s history with the Utrom and face down an angry alligator named Leatherhead. Eventually, Slashuur appears to challenge Shredder, but he must face the turtles instead. Once beaten, he remembers why he was after the villain, and becomes an ally of the heroes in green. The turtles, Slashuur, Splinter, and their comrades must then team up to stop the remnants of Shredder’s army, including Hun, Baxter Stockman, and Karai. With the enemies defeated, Slashuur leaves, but not before challenging the turtles to face him in the Battle Nexus.
After unlocking the tournament section in the game, the turtles are able to participate in Battle Nexus Mode, where they must fight through four different tournaments, facing villains like Shredder’s Elite Guard, Karai, Miyamoto Usagi, and Slashuur, and even the Mega Shredder, with prizes available for each tournament victory. Most villains can only be faced once their counterparts have been defeated in story mode.
Battle Nexus offered four players the chance to fight together through the story, with each player choosing a team when the game began. These teams consisted of one turtle and one ally that could be switched in after being unlocked. Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo were paired with Slashuur, Splinter, Casey Jones, and Karai, respectively. The teams had unique abilities for battle, and all the teams playing had a shared health gauge, meaning when one took damage, everyone did. Each level completed when a certain goal was met, whether that was killing all the enemies, defeating a boss, or just surviving a certain amount of time. As an added bonus, finding a certain artifact in Stage 9-1 unlocked a very special version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game.
Like its predecessor, Battle Nexus had a much deeper story than the old Konami games. But, this game too featured a story that was ripped directly from episodes of the 2003 show, which meant that it too did not offer much in the way of unique content for fans to play through. The only inclusion that was not part of the show was the appearance of Slashuur. He was a game-only character that never made any other appearances in the franchise.
Critically, Battle Nexus was panned across the board. GameSpy gave the game a 1.5/5, while IGN rated it 6/10. Both sources cited the repetition in game play, the bad controls, and the incompetent A.I. as reasons the game just couldn’t stand up on its own. The game as a whole was weak on story, and other than one new character offered nearly nothing notable to either the franchise or to the game play. Having the original arcade game available on the newest generation of consoles may have been the best part of the entire Battle Nexus experience, and certainly made fans that stuck with the franchise very happy.
Overall, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Battle Nexus was another game that appeased fans and had some very fun qualities, but was not a great gaming experience. Between the controls, the shallowness of the story, and the ineffective game play, Battle Nexus was a remarkably forgettable game. However, the franchise itself was still in full swing, and no amount of poor ratings for one element was going to stop the turtles from pushing forward for many years to come.