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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade: Wrath of the Mutants
GameMill Entertainment
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Ever since Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird published the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics in 1984, earnest ridiculousness has been central to the series. The two started drawing buff turtles to make each other laugh, but then their joke developed a Daredevil-style origin story: a smashed canister full of radioactive goo turned four, innocent baby turtles into humanoid crime fighters.

The commercial potential came after that. Over the next few decades, the Renaissance-man-turtles Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo expanded into TV, movies (two starring Megan Fox), life-size action figures, and, naturally, lots of video games. That brings us back to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade: Wrath of the Mutants, which successfully incorporates multiple strands of TMNT's long history.

The world works differently in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade: Wrath of the Mutants, which became available on all platforms, including Nintendo Switch, as of April 23. The 2017 beat 'em up arcade game doesn't recognize anxieties such as "too tough" or "too intimidating." Instead, it imbues you (and up to three more local co-op players) with unconquerable strength — improbably bolstered by greasy pizza pies. Wrath of the Mutants lets you indulge in the rare but potent combination of silly and strong, and it's a great TMNT game because of it.

The game’s boss battles are tougher than you might expect.

GameMill Entertainment

Wrath is based on the 2012 Nickelodeon show Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which, much like other franchise installments, establishes the ninja turtles as easygoing do-gooders and their nemesis, Shredder, as a real destructive piece of work. The game shares some voice actors with the show (including Robot Chicken's Seth Green and The Goonies' Sean Astin) and its vibrant artstyle. But it also takes heavy direction from Konami's 1991 arcade side-scrolling beat 'em up Turtles in Time.

Similar to that game, Wrath of the Mutants employs simple arcade game logic: punch out everyone on your screen, so that you can progress to your right and punch more people. All four turtles are playable, and the only important difference between their jumping and smashing is their "Turtle Power" special attack. You'll be able to access this after a lime green bar at the top of your screen fills. Accomplish this by hitting hunched Foot Clan members, armed Kraang Droids, and other enemies, or by picking up random extra Power from the ground.

Turtle Power is the most fun part of Wrath's unadorned gameplay — which mostly boils down to hitting, jumping, or hitting while jumping — and each ninja turtle benefits immensely from their creative special attack. Leonardo can summon a crackling blue tornado that engulfs every on-screen enemy before completely depleting their health, but I'm particularly fond of Michelangelo's ability to deliver mystic pizza slices like missiles.

Special abilities are the most exciting part of Wrath’s simplistic gameplay.

GameMill Entertainment

Wrath’s special items are even more entertaining. These items include standard video game power-ups, like hot and ready pizzas that replenish health. There are also some minor boosts to your offense like nunchucks and green shells — the latter makes you spin into enemies like a rogue frisbee. And if you stumble upon their icons, you can also summon help from powerful characters like the alligator Leatherhead, who'll roll over enemies like they're raw dough. Not even the game's bosses, which include franchise antagonists like the ugly punk warthog Bebop, can withstand such an attack.

Don’t let your guard down. Bosses have sizable health pools and formidable movesets, so you'll want to prepare for Wrath's console version, which includes six extra bosses and some new environments, including a neon-lit Amusement Park. All of Wrath's environments are crisp and as colorful as Nickelodeon slime on my Switch, though I also experienced mild input lag playing in them while my Switch was docked. Still, they're fun to crash through — especially the unique Sewer level, which begins with some casual stinky surfboarding, but requires just as much brute force as any other level.

All of this low-stakes fun makes Wrath of the Mutants a perfect addition to the Switch's constantly expanding arcade classic collection. The handheld console continues to be a great place for blissed-out casual gaming, and Wrath of the Mutants supports that with all the boyishness it can muster.

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