Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rooftop Run App ReviewApril 24, 2013
Disclaimer: This review was written prior to a major update of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rooftop Run which added characters, levels, and generally restructured the game for the better. You can read about these changes at the end of the article.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have become ubiquitous as of late. As a child in the 80s, I collected every toy, watched every TV episode and movie, and possessed a myriad of licensed products featuring the amphibious, anthropomorphic quartet. Creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird definitely hit the jackpot with this franchise, which I’m happy to see has returned to the forefront of pop culture as of late- beginning with 2007’s animated film and continuing into Nickelodeon’s fantastic new TV series. Now the Turtles have their very own app- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rooftop Run, and it’s quite good.
The story set-up in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rooftop Run is pretty basic- the Kraang are invading Manhattan, and your Turtle of choice is tasked with running, jumping and fighting through the rooftops of New York while one of their alien ships is hot on your tail. You’re constantly losing health, and will need to collect green orbs scattered along the scenery to keep it up; if it drops all the way to zero, the Kraang ship beams you up and it’s game over. There’s a few other elements at play as well- enemies are strewn about all over the scenery, and will try to stop you at every turn. You’ll need to quickly take them down while running, jumping, and avoiding obstacles like bombs and pitfalls. Eliminating the bad guys (the Foot Clan, mutants, and the Kraang) earns you coins, which are used to buy gear, gadgets, outfits and weapons for your Turtles as well as the other Turtles (and Dogpound).
Once your life bar reaches 100%, you enter Turtle Time, where time slows down and you tap spheres to dodge enemies and attack. It’s a neat sequence, and once you successfully eliminate all your opponents, the next stage starts. You start off fighting the Foot Clan soldiers, then mutated insect things, then the Kraang robots. This is as far as I managed to get, I have no idea if there’s a stage after it. By the time you reach the third area, cheap deaths are plentiful, from bombs you can’t see until you hit them, larger pitfall areas, and a drastically plummeting life bar. The fact that jump and attack are both mapped to screen tapping means that sometimes you’ll jump right over an enemy rather than attack it, which can lead you right into one of the many pitfalls. It’s a very challenging game, but it’s fun and addictive so you’ll want to keep going. But in my opinion Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rooftop Run’s enemies drop far too few coins- and you really need to grind for any upgrades or characters, unless you want to drop real money on In-App Purchases.
Unfortunately when you pick a Turtle, it locks the other characters until you purchase them for a pretty large sum of coins. I started with Raph and upgraded his suit and sai, for a price of over 10,000 coins. I assumed that these upgrades would help me last longer against the Kraang, but I noticed no real benefits with either upgrade. The description when you purchase them doesn’t mention an attribute bump or anything either, so I’m assuming that these are just aesthetic upgrades. I also purchased a Coin Booster gadget for 900 points, which was by far the worst expense I made during my time with the game. Once you have a Coin Booster, you activate it during your run and it helps you acquire more coins. Trouble is, it only lasts for about 10 seconds, which is nowhere near enough time. I barely scraped up 150 coins by the time it expired, which means I wasted upwards of 750 coins. I cannot emphasize enough, do not waste your coins on the gadgets, they all offer trivial benefits for an extremely short period of time. A few other gripes I had with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rooftop Run include very repetitive catch phrases, the fact that there’s only one song in the game, and each Turtle only has one Turtle Time combat animation, which you’ll see often and gets old pretty fast. Some of these grievances could have been alleviated if the all of the Turtles were unlocked at the outset; switching characters would keep the gameplay much fresher.
Despite its flaws, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rooftop Run is an entertaining, addictive endless runner with great graphics and solid gameplay. After an hour or so of play time, you’ll begin to understand the rhythm that the game requires, and swiftly traversing the environment while dispatching foes and avoiding traps becomes an engaging, enjoyable, and challenging ride. Old-school TMNT fans as well as the newcomers brought in by the success of the new Nick series will find a lot to love about this game.
UPDATE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rooftop Run has since been updated to include more variety in the levels, including a Shellraiser racing level and a fight against Baxter Stockman. New characters have also been added, namely Dogpound and April O’Neil. The entire structure of the game also feels much better now, with coins earned much faster and the cost of upgrades adjusted to be much more fair.