With the holiday season fast approaching, bored children will again be ushered off to cinemas around the country to watch the latest animated feature offerings, one of which is DreamWorks’ Turbo. As is often the case, a movie tie-in video game has been produced to coincide with the movie release, yet Turbo: Super Stunt Squad isn’t quite what you would expect.
Developer: Monkey Paw Games
Publisher: D3 Publisher
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 (Reviewed), Wii U, Wii, 3DS, DS
Players: Single Player, Co-op
Genre: Open World Stunt Action
Release: July 16th, 2013
In the movie, lead snail Turbo accidentally has his DNA fused with nitrous oxide, bestowing him the gift of super-fast speed. With his new-found power, Turbo naturally takes his talents to the race track, but remarkably Super Stunt Squad takes things to a whole other tangent. Rather than go with a predictable racing title, developers Monkey Bar Games have chosen to draw their inspiration from Tony Hawk style of games.
Players will need to perform tricks to complete a series of challenges spanning various free-style arenas. Once you’ve completed enough challenges, new levels; power-ups and environments are unlocked to tear up and grind your way through. On initial appearance, Super Stunt Squad can feel dated in this day and age, particularly since the Tony Hawk franchise has struggled to find an audience as of late, yet Super Stunt Squad does have a sticky trail of charm.
The environments are cleverly thought out and have an air of DreamWorks creativity to their design. Given how small our snail heroes are, the magnitude of each arena is captured beautifully, where the everyday takes on a whole new level of appreciation. Common household sinks transform into half pipes, extension cords become zip lines for grinding along, as do the many household furniture and tabletops used as a playground for all the tricked-out stunts.
Play alone, or with a friend via local split-screen co-op mode, choosing from a range of garden snail racers, each with their own unique starting stats and trick abilities. The move set are interesting enough, with each racer given a variety of different moves to perform stunts through a series of quick button presses and tilts on the left stick. Grinds, hand-plants, grabs and other manoeuvres are easy enough to do once you get the timing and speed down pat. Stringing together combos to perform successive flawless moves fills a trick gauge, unlocking a special move that works similar to what we’ve seen in the SSX series.
Tricks and stunts are fun to perform at first, but it starts to become a little tedious doing all the same repetitious moves over, and over again. Although new moves add a little extra pizzazz to the repertoire, only the most hardened of slug-loving fans will be able to extract maximum level of fun from Super Stunt Squad.
Controls are surprisingly quite tight and well put together given its movie tie-in heritage, which is a good thing since some of the challenges actually prove to be difficult given how demanding and hard to reach some of the challenges can be. It could be a little bit more of a struggle for less adept gamers without a little practice and patience, which isn’t helped by the added time limit. Despite multiple challenges in a single playground, you’ll only need to complete one objective per run for it to qualify as successful, so you can go about systematically knocking off one goal at a time, making it far less intimidating.
A non-timed mode is available for exploring the vast arenas, effectively disabling the objectives and providing more time to collect power-ups for upgrading. Time out certainly did help as upgraded controls made maneuvering and controls more bearable. I should also mention that a reset position option isn’t available, which would have helped greatly considering Turbo‘s target demographic are generally kids.
Super Stunt Squad isn’t all that bad of a game really. The controls are very playable; the environments are cute and clever, as is the technical aspects and general quality as a whole. Above all else, there’s genuine fun to be had. The biggest letdown is the poorly though out design that festers with frustrating design decisions and missed opportunities.
My hat off to Monkey Bar Games for not treading the road of predictability and churning out another Mario Kart clone. At the very least, Turbo: Super Stunt Squad will provide children with something a little different than they expect, and may even give them a surprisingly decent gaming experience that isn’t going to blow a hole in your wallet this holiday season.
5.5 – Average. While it does nothing exceptionally bad, it does nothing exceptionally good either. It may be fun for a while but it will struggle to maintain any interest.
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