Turbo Turtle Adventure Review

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Publisher: Majesco
Developer: Iridon Interactive

Platform: Game Boy Advance
Reviewed on Game Boy Advance

Roll your happy little turtle shell around more than 50 levels scattered about the Isle of Mazes. The mazes are broken into 7 major areas, each featuring a different thematic background, from Woodlands to Spaceship to Volcano. Each maze is designed both as a thinking problem and, to a greater or lesser extent, as a dexterity challenge. Complete all the main levels plus all the secret ones to win the game and unlock bonus features.

Rob de los Reyes

The instant surprise of Turbo Turtle Adventure is that it is decidedly more interesting and entertaining than its "kids' game" packaging would lead you to believe. You'll see almost no sign of the cutie-pie turtle adorning the retail box and manual. Rather, the game is played with a 2-speed (normal and turbo) rolling shell – a colored dot, really. The effect of choosing an otherwise inanimate object as the focus of the adventure is to remove the cartoonishness in favor of a more abstract, straight puzzle feel. Turbo Turtle loses some personality as a result but gains something equally intangible and desirable: a focus on the challenge of the mazes themselves. Strip away the packaging and the title, and you're left with an engaging action/puzzler suitable for any age gamer.

Perhaps the only other mark of "kidness," if you're really looking for it, is the game's bright colors. Would that other GBA games risked the cartoony effect of bright colors. The bold color palette makes Turbo Turtle one of the more forgiving games on the market in terms of the GBA "dark screen" problem. Those colors, plus an uncomplicated screen composition, are a tremendous boon in subpar GBA viewing conditions (which is to say, substantially all the time). You may want to add Turbo Turtle to your collection strictly on the basis of being able to play it in a (comparatively) wide variety of lighting conditions and viewing angles.

There is nothing revolutionary about Turbo Turtle – though, to be fair, the GBA hardly lends itself to gaming revolutions. Happily, "revolutionary" is no synonym for "fun," nor, for that matter, is "realistic." There is no overarching story here, no reason why there is a Spaceship level on the topical island map. Mazes are filled with fans to blow you away and gravity points to suck you in closer. Neither is explained or justified in any way. But you won't care. Artificial though they are, the mazes are generally clever, surprising and well-balanced for difficulty. Perhaps even more importantly, they are generally well-balanced between cerebral and reflexive challenges. You are never shown the entire maze at once, so the mental challenge sometimes devolves into progressive repetitions until you spot the exit. More often, however, you'll know where to go but cheerfully puzzle away at how to get there.

Each maze is filled with gaps, locked doors, force fields, icy patches, accelerating tiles and other obstacles. You'll start each level empty of tools but find all the ones you need scattered about the level – if only you can figure out how best to reach and then use them. Those obstacles, plus the aforementioned fans, gravity wells, and other barriers, also provide physical challenges. Each maze is a single plane hovering above a void. Overeager rolling (voluntary or otherwise) will send you flying off the map. Failing a mission due to mistimed jumps or misapplied pressure on the directional pad often makes for an extremely frustrating experience in other games, but it almost never does here. Most levels are designed to be completed in less than 3 minutes – which you'll know because you're always on a countdown timer. Given the brevity, restarting a level loses much of its potential irritation. Moreover, although defeating every level in the game is more than a passing challenge, you don't need to beat every sublevel to advance to the next major level.

Once you've beaten the game to your satisfaction, there's no reason to restart. Even so, Turbo Turtle offers ample playing time for the buck. Older players are unlikely to be stymied for too long by the mental challenges, but the game is no pushover on this score. Moreover, the blunt controls of the GBA, the physical obstacles, the mazes, and some deliberate action puzzles extend the difficulty just enough to keep things interesting all the way to the end. Turbo Turtle is a deceptively complete gaming experience and one of those unlooked-for treasures that makes gaming a hobby of surprises.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on November 24, 2002 6:53 PM.

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