Totally Turtle Games – Mutant Nightmare (2005)
Though the 2003 animated series was rolling along strong and showed no signs of slowing, Konami was nearing its end for TMNT video game merchandise. 2005 saw the addition of the final Konami title to the TMNT game franchise, based loosely on the third season of the animated show, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Nightmare was released to audiences nationwide on the GameCube, Xbox, Playstation 2, and PC.
The story of Mutant Nightmare begins with the Triceratons coming to Earth in search of the Fugitoid, followed by the capture of Splinter by the Earth Protection Force and Agent Bishop. Oroku Saki returns to rebuild his empire and hunt the Utrom, while Ultimate Drako sends the turtles on a journey across time and space into a nightmare of each brother before the boys can finish off their final enemy. As a whole, the game only addresses a few of the arcs in the third season, but those particular arcs were the most important, and unlike the two previous games, Mutant Nightmare had the entirety of the third season to work with (coming out during the show’s fourth), whereas the other two were released during the seasons that they were based on.
Most unique about this particular game was the game play itself. While the player could choose any of the turtles to use throughout the game, there was an interesting way to add abilities and extra power. By collecting skill scrolls and experience points as levels are completed, the players can choose which turtles increase their levels, creating the perfect combination of skill and strength to take down any enemy that may come. Additionally, the turtles can be transformed into either Dino Turtles or Ultimate Turtles; the Dino Turtles resembled ankylosaur hybrids that featured incredible strength, while the Ultimate Turtles are powered by the mystic might of the Ninja Tribunal.
Like Battle Nexus, Mutant Nightmare featured an Easter egg that could be unlocked through regular game play. Instead of finding a special item, successful completion of the first episode unlocked a version of the Turtles in Time arcade game. While mostly intact, the new version featured updated audio, including voice over work by the actors from the 2003 series in place of the original audio tracks.
The game did have its negatives, however. First and foremost was the fact that the same formula as the previous games was still in place. Though all four turtles were active at the same time on-screen, the player was still simply going through the storyline of the show. Again, that was a step up from the older TMNT games, but it was a formula that had run its course in the first two.
Overall, the game received rather mediocre ratings. IGN gave the game a final score of 5.5/10; Metacritic had a composite score of 57 based on 10 critic reviews; and GameSpot provided a 5.3/10. The game received essentially the same scores as Battle Nexus, but that was still a big drop off from the first game, which was a real change in a good direction from the original games.
Konami’s last TMNT game was certainly not its best. Though the game offered some new and interesting aspects that could have been adapted for later incarnations of the video game franchise, it was not in itself anything special. Konami made many great attempts at bringing fun games to TMNT fans around the globe, and some were better received than others. Though the games crossed platforms, had some sort of different game play, and featured a veritable cavalcade of characters from the various incarnations of the TMNT universe, they were still very simple, and the level of enjoyment varied depending on the game. Mutant Nightmare was no different, but still provided some fun for fans.