Penn & Teller    PCC articles by Penn Jillette        Reprinted with permission.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Ultra Game - second pass

by Penn Jillette
Why am I the one who should review the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles computer game? I'm 35 years old, I don't have kids, I'm not a comic book collector and I have a favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle - that's why. My favorite is Donatello and I love the trademark symbol after the name - we ain't talking no fifteenth century Italian sculptor - we're talking a little amphibious cash cow. I've read the TMNT comic books, I've seen the TMNT cartoon, I saw the TMNT movie, I even own some TMNT action figures and a TMNT toy blimp (sold separately). I am the one to tell you about TMNT - The game.

Wiggle your joystick around, jump and shoot, that's the game. There's no text to type in, and there's no pesky thinking to do. You just run around hitting things until they die and what could be wrong with that? The wit of the original TMNT story has fallen away. Maybe people don't even remember that the words "Teenage," "Mutant," "Ninja," and "Turtle" are funny. The game retains a few of the original ideas - our protagonists eat nothing by pizza, they're lead by a Zen rat named Splinter and they're fighting Shredder, the Darth Vader of comic book ninja. In the game you're trying to rescue April O'Neil, their electronic journalist buddy. I wasn't skilled enough to rescue her but it didn't bother me much. As far as I'm concerned all TV journalists should be pulled into the sewers and killed by mutated mystics. The graphics on the game are good, you can visually tell the Turtles apart, which is more than I could say for the movie. It has music, not inspiring music but, jeez, it's a video game. It's a one player game but you can change Turtles in mid sewer to use each Turtle to his best ability. Of course, I couldn't tell their abilities apart (one of them had a bigger stick but whether that matters or not, I've been told, is a question of taste).

The game really has little to do with the TMNT. It's just a run, jump and shoot game and the fact that they're Ninja Turtles has nothing to do with the game. Twenty-six years ago it would have been The Beatles video game. A friend of mine in LA has a Pin the Tail on Mickey Mouse game. It's really old and it's printed on newspaper. It cost about a nickel to make. My friend paid 35 bucks and it's now worth a couple hundred. He's a Disney collector and says he loves Mickey Mouse. He doesn't really love Mickey Mouse. He doesn't think Mickey Mouse is funny. He's not going play the stupid Mickey Mouse party game. But Mickey is part of his culture. It's reminds him of his youth and it's an antique. So, if you like living in a time of "Heros on the Half Shell" - buy the game. Play it if you want, It's fun. But it might be better to just keep it sealed in the box and sell it to a TMNT collector in 40 years. It'll be worth a lot of money . . . and I have a beta test copy.