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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Training Lair review for Xbox 360

Platform: Xbox 360 (Kinect required)
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: Float Hybrid/Krome Studios
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

Michael Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arrived in theaters just a short time ago, and while its almost a standard to make a video game based on summer blockbusters, I expected anything tied in with this monstrosity of a film to be terrible. However, developer Krome Studios took a different route by not making a traditional adaptation that follows the movie’s plot, but rather make a Kinect motion game that only shares small elements of the film. The result is a free, yes FREE, downloadable title that is actually fun to play for the short time it takes to master.

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Basically what we have here is a simplified version of Fruit Ninja Kinect with elements from the new TMNT Movie. Once you get everything set up, you begin by punching and kicking flying objects and dodging ninja stars. Occasionally you will focus attention on stone pillars and break them down as fast as you can for major points. After you finish the first stage, you then enter one of the Turtles “rooms” and repeat the process with more stuff being thrown at you at once. Each turtles room equips you with one of the characters main weapons. A pair of sais for Raphael, a bo staff for Donatello, nunchakus for Michelangelo and katana blades for Leonardo. Sometimes, you can cut open a pizza box and grab a slice for points… but you have to catch it with your head! After you beat a room, a score is totaled and you unlock items such as backgrounds and pictures of the turtles from the film. After you are done playing, you can take a picture of yourself wearing the Turtles gear and post it to Facebook so that all your friends can make fun of… I mean, show their support of your greatness.

Controls are surprisingly responsive. Unlike other Kinect games I’ve played on the 360, every movement is registered and the sensor never lost track of me, even when I reached for a far away target. I actually played through rooms more than once because I was fixated on beating my score. I haven’t had this much fun with a Kinect game in a long time and its simple concept and great tracking make it a joy to play.

While the graphics are nothing to write home about, there’s nothing about them that are bad, with the exception of seeing yourself flail around on the screen — but that’s part of the overall fun you can have with this title. One issue I had is the picture taking option. Lining up a cool shot with the gear on is kinda tough, and most of the time you end up putting one of the turtles bandanas on your shoulder or the top of your head.

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You don’t have to be a fan of TMNT to download this, you don’t even need to see the movie (and believe me you don’t want to) to have a good time with this very simple Kinect title. If you want to dust off your Kinect sensor and play a game that actually functions like it should, definitely give this one a try — the price is right so you have nothing to lose.  It’s one of those quiet titles that gets released but rarely advertised, but trust me, it’s probably the only good thing that will come out of the new movie.

Grade: B