No digital game is safe from expiring licenses. While the unfortunate expiration of Brave Story for the PSP (on PSN) hasn’t been wildly reported in the mainstream gaming media, Turtles in Time Re-shelled is getting a significant amount of press coverage due to the high-regard of the classic arcade/SNES game and the whole franchise in general. It’s true; Ubisoft’s pulling this one off XBLA and PSN on June 30th, which implies that online multiplayer will no longer be supported after that date. Obviously, this is due to the Ninja Turtles’ franchise being sold to Nickelodeon in late 2009. Having this game up for around two years since that acquisition is a pretty good trade-off. I’m surprised they didn’t pull it off earlier.
I’d like to say that I’m saddened by this loss, but to be truthful I’m neutral on the matter. I own this remake on XBLA…and while the multiplayer and gameplay are just as fun as the arcade/SNES version, there was so much potential for it to be a much better reimagining. The visual style for Re-shelled is questionable at best. Believe it or not, but the sprite-based original version actually had better facial expressions and animations from the Turtles and enemies alike….while the remake is completely devoid of life. Moreover, not including the additional levels from the SNES version is just plain lazy. But the worst offender of the bunch in my opinion is the new soundtrack. You don’t mess with the music of Turtles in Time and expect to get away with it, Ubisoft!
Listen to these awesome tracks! Insanely catchy stuff. The beta version of the remake actually used the original SNES music. Of course, I would’ve at least expected a modern retake on the tracks themselves with live instruments and such. Instead, the Ubisoft development team had to screw that up too by composing a completely new soundtrack for reasons unknown.
Aren’t the new versions some of the most bland music you’ve ever listened to in your life? This change alone almost completely killed this game’s nostalgic factor.
With my rant out of the way, it’s unfortunate that Re-Shelled will be pulled despite my dislike of some of its features…because for better or for worse, this TMNT game will be the last of its kind. Since Nick owns the franchise now, it’ll be years until they discover the huge fanbase behind the classic games. Indeed, I would’ve loved to see any developer revisit other classics such as TMNT III: Manhattan Project for the NES (one of the most addicting beat ’em ups for the NES), TMNT IV: To the Rescue for the Game Boy (an excellent Turtles take on Metroidvania), and TMNT: Tournament Fighters for the SNES (the closest competitor to Street Fighter II back in those days). Instead, we get crap like the notorious first installment of TMNT NES shoved down our throats via Virtual Console. Like any other franchise owner, it seems that Nick’s mentality is to try and cash in with new projects instead of revisiting the old, which is wrong in the Turtles’ case. Name me one successful modern TMNT game. That’s right: nothing comes to mind! Perhaps the closest game which tries to ride in on the nostalgia are the two recent beat ’em ups for GBA and DS released years ago, but I digress. Modern TMNT games suck compared to the awesome classics of yesteryear!