Review: Turtle Tale (Nintendo 3DS)

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Turtle Tale
Publisher: Saturnine Games
Developer: Saturnine Games
Genre: Platformer
Release Date: 05/22/2014

When I grew up, a game wasn’t a game unless it was a platformer featuring a cartoon. Sadly, those times are long gone. Nowadays, a game isn’t a game unless it’s gritty and features some ten year old kid calling me horrible names online. I jest, but it’s not an entirely inaccurate way of explaining how games have evolved.

One of the many great things about the dawn of digital distribution is that it gives even the most archaic of games a chance to find an audience. For the low cost of two and a half bucks, I can forgive a lot. That’s great, because there’s a lot that Turtle Tale should be apologizing for.

turtletale2Turtle Tale stars Shelldon the turtle. The developers held a contest to pick that name. Think about that for a bit. Anyways, Shelldon is having a good old time on the beach when a pirate rabbit and his monkey goons show up. You know, because turtles and rabbits can’t ever get along. Shelldon isn’t a turtle to take things lying down. He grabs his trusty squirt gun and gets to work. What follows is sixteen levels of the most generic platforming action you’re likely to find on the eShop.

If there’s one interesting thing that the game does, it’s that you can unlock a whole new campaign by fining all of the fruit in each stage. This essentially doubles the length of the game, and adds a more hardcore mode for those willing to find it. The game purports to be in the spirit of NES classics. The secondary campaign is more in line with that spirit. It’s hard because it’s cheap just like the good old days.

Visually, the game is a complete bust. Even in 3D, the game feels flat. Muted colors and a lack of detail make the whole thing feel drab. It’s really boring to look at. The animations are especially cheap. Many of the enemies only move part of their bodies. They might as well be statues. The closest the game comes to showing personality is the angry look on Shelldon’s face whenever he fires his squirt gun.

turtletale3Mechanically, the game is simple, but effective. You move with either the joystick or the d-pad. From there, all you do is jump and shoot. Shelldon’s gun fires bursts of water that are effective at taking down enemies for some reason. The water has a downward curve that’s awkward at first, but allows you to take down enemies below you. That’s good, because you can only shoot straight forward. The jumping is simple and precise. There are no tricks or special moves to learn. I rarely had issues getting the turtle to make the jump I wanted him to. That’s always a plus when talking about a platformer.

What would a game like this be without enemies? The usual suspects show up in force. You’ll fight crabs, birds, witch doctors, spiders, and monkeys. Each enemy type has a specific pattern they adhere to. Crabs waddle back and forth until something happens, birds occasionally dive down to attack you, and monkeys jump up and down like idiots. It’s usually no problem to shoot them down (with water) and call it a day. The only time things get tricky is when the level auto-scrolls, forcing you to take down enemies before or even during tricky jumps. There is also one boss fight in the game but mostly what he does is toss enemies at you.

turtletale4For the most part, the level design is extraordinarily basic. All you do is hop onto platforms, avoid pits, and shoot enemies. In a couple of spots, the platforms might move. The only time you might have to go out of your way is if you want to grab all of the fruit. Doing so is worth it, to unlock the secondary campaign. The secondary campaign has a couple of interesting levels, including one where you need to get an enemy to launch you onto a series of unstable platforms. It improves the game, but only to the point where I didn’t find the whole thing a complete waste of time.

If you count beating the game, going back to find the fruit I missed, and clearing the secondary campaign, the whole thing took me about three hours. That’s all you’ll get, but it’s not too bad for such a cheap game. I’ve honestly gotten less from much more expensive games.

Oh. And because apparently it needs to be said. Turtles are aquatic animals. They live in the water, and only come on land to sun themselves or lay eggs. They would not, in any normal circumstance, die instantly from touching water. For the love of god game developers, please remember this!

Short Attention Span Summary

diehardjack1-150x150Turtle Tale is at best generic. It does nothing to stand out from the kinds of games we’ve been playing for decades. At worst, the game is a boring, poorly conceived mess. The nicest thing I can say about it is that it is fully functional and playable. If you really want a cheap platformer from the eShop, there are better options. Gunman Clive comes to mind. Still, this game might illicit a few happy moments. For two and a half bucks, it could be a heck of a lot worse.

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