RELEASED: May 2005
AVAILABLE ON: DS, GBA, PS2, PSP, Xbox
DEVELOPER(S): Ubisoft (DS, GBA), The Collective, Double Helix Games (PS2, PSP, Xbox)
PUBLISHER(S): Ubisoft (DS, GBA), LucasArts (PS2, PSP, Xbox)
Konami's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II - The Arcade Game was one of my favourite video games as a child, and it remained one of the truly finest games ever released for the Nintendo Entertainment System. A side-scrolling beat 'em up with familiar characters, colourful and detailed graphics, some of the coolest cutscenes of the time, and simple, addictive arcade-style gameplay; the game was a winner. 16 years after the game's release, Ubisoft stepped forward with a Game Boy Advance game that just might've been conceived with an arcade TMNT of the new generation in mind. This game was based on the final chapter of the Star Wars saga, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, which I easily consider the best movie of the prequel trilogy. With the horror of the previous Game Boy Advance game, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones still plaguing my mind, I carefully tread into Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, to find a visually unsatisfying, but physically decent beat 'em up.
Do what must be done. Do not hesitate. Show no mercy.
When Padme's pregnancy becomes known to Anakin, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine - a.k.a. Darth Sidious - seizes the opportunity to finally manipulate the young Skywalker into turning to the Dark Side of the Force, making him believe it is the only way he could protect his family from harm. He uses his new apprentice Darth Vader to execute his orderly plan to completely wipe out his fellow Jedi. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan Kenobi struggles for survival and prepares to face his former apprentice in a battle to the death.
Since my opinion on the final Star Wars movie is already out and there's really nothing to add, let's get into the graphics without further due, I think we're in for a fairly lengthy review here as it is. The visual design of the game sucks, there's no way around it. The graphics are not bad from a technical standpoint, but I really don't understand the very concept behind pseudo-anime characters in a Star Wars game. It isn't even a Japanese game. As a matter of fact, it's French... which always explains a lot, and not in the most flattering fashion. Especially the portraits look horrible, and there are some errors in details which really bother me, for example Obi-Wan and Anakin's battle stances. I've rarely seen a Jedi swing his lightsaber with one hand. The sound bank's comprised of extremely familiar, but still good music, grunts stolen from some random beat 'em up, and quite sufficient sound effects.
|How could I not doubt it?|
The first game to come to mind was indeed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, and it took a couple of minutes for me to realize that hey, it's probably no coincidence, as Ubisoft was responsible for each TMNT game of the 21st century, including the remake of TMNT IV, a game which I've not yet had a chance to experience properly, while TMNT II was one of my Top 5 played games as a kid. There is far more to Revenge of the Sith than just moving forward and kicking ass, though. The combat is far more tactical, and the more sufficient style you have, the more you can assign skill points after each mission, to improve your attributes and Force spells as you wish. It's pretty cool. I dig this game to some extent already.
You can choose to play as either Obi-Wan Kenobi or Anakin Skywalker. In other words, you can do this the good or evil way. At first, it seems like both characters are exactly the same, but it's actually surprisingly far from the truth. Obi-Wan is faster than Anakin, but his speed makes him somewhat more vulnerable to ranged attacks and it's harder to deflect blaster shots with the lightsaber. Both characters have a set of special moves dependent of a meter, which are executable once they destroy or kill enough enemies. Obi-Wan's special moves are collectively known as Focus, while Anakin's are known as Fury. As long as both characters are assigned to the same missions, they have similar but notably different monologues which mirror each other. For example, Obi-Wan says something like "This is why I hate droids, they never know when to quit", while Anakin claims to love them for the same reason - he just loves to pick a fight. Even if the presentation's far out most of the time, I think it's cool how Ubisoft made the characters such mirror images of each other in every way they could.
|Tell me, droid, what makes you tick?|
The boss fight against Count Dooku / Darth Tyranus looks stupid, but it's quite unique. He has a certain attack pattern he changes to another one once his health hits a certain low. The key to winning this fight is to figure out the pattern and follow up with a suitable counterattack each time he fails to deliver. Each time he manages to hit your character, you change to either Obi-Wan or Anakin. It's a constantly changing tag team duel with great tempo, I really enjoyed it although all that counterattack business can really mutilate one's hands. It ends dreadfully, though. Instead of decapitating Dooku like he did in the movie, Anakin just quickly swings at him with the lightsaber and he drops dead. Just about the lamest fatality I've seen in a while. It's also funny that I won the fight using Obi-Wan, suddenly he's inexplicably passed out in the background while Anakin takes the credit.
|Whoa, dude. You've gotta show me some |
Let's recap: the presentation is downright awful, the plot is very faithful to the movie but having two playable characters around alone makes it very inconsistent. It feels like we're speeding through the storyline, missing some important plot points like all the stuff that makes Anakin one angry camper. He just turns by himself. At least the game doesn't feel as forced like its kind usually do, the movie was so packed to the brim with action that the atmosphere of the missions is authentic most of the time, even if the presentation isn't. The controls are pretty good, but most of the other elements of gameplay tend to piss on your shoes from time to time. All in all, what we have here is a game that cannot stand up to the ones that paved the way for it - but, also one of the better movie licenses of the decade, an entertaining beat 'em up game, and first and foremost, arguably the best game to be released in promotion of the whole Star Wars prequel trilogy.
GRAPHICS : 6.5
SOUND : 8.7
PLAYABILITY : 7.6
LIFESPAN : 7.3
CONCLUSION : 7.5
GameRankings: 71.85% (DS), 73.38% (GBA), 64.63% (PS2), 80.00% (PSP), 65.97% (Xbox)
Most of the events that don't take place in the movie, but are depicted in the PS2 and Xbox versions of the game, are actually taken from the original draft for the movie.