(3DS eShop)

Turtle Tale (3DS eShop)

Game Review

Turtle Tale Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jake Shapiro

Turtle Recall

Do you love retro platformers but wish they featured more squirt guns? Not to be confused with the children's animated film A Turtle's Tale from a few years ago, Saturnine Games' Turtle Tale brings Super Soakin' platforming action to the eShop at a budget price, but don't let its colourful graphics fool you: Turtle Tale is a strict NES-style 2D platformer through and through, with all the idiosyncrasies of an 1980s action game — for better and for worse.

Turtle Tale's setup is fairly predictable; protagonist Shelldon must save his homeland from an evil pirate, and to do so he must conquer a short collection of linear levels armed only with his trusty water gun. There are no power-ups, no puzzles, and no boss battles aside from the final fight against the aforementioned evil pirate; Turtle Tale is pure platforming action. There's no time limit, so it feels more relaxed than many of the NES titles that inspired it; the only scoring system is the entirely optional objective to snag all 100 fruits scattered throughout each level to unlock a bonus quest at the end of the game — the slightly-animated 3D fruits are littered throughout the adventure, and none of them are hidden or particularly difficult to grab.

It's immediately apparent that Turtle Tale was created by a tiny development team, as low production values permeate every aspect of the game, from the barely-animated opening cutscene to the brain-dead enemies you'll face. The character sprites are rather basic and the cliché tropical music plays at a strangely low volume, but Saturnine Games has made the most of its small budget with bright, inviting parallax-scrolling background graphics that look great with the 3D slider all the way up. Turtle Tale also excels in its simple, tight controls, with D-pad/Circle Pad movement, B to jump, and Y to fire your squirt gun – the B/Y tandem is a strange departure from the traditional A/B controls of most retro platformers, but it gives your worn-out A button a welcome respite from the constant mashing it usually gets in other games.

Turtle Tale's greatest accomplishment that sets it apart from the legion of similar 2D platformers on 3DS is its lifelike water gun physics. Shelldon squirts his gun at a realistic trajectory that doesn't travel in a straight line, but rather arcs downward after a few feet as the concentrated liquid blast breaks apart into a scattered shower. Sadly, Shelldon can only shoot straight ahead; the squirt gun is full of untapped gameplay potential, as there's no ability to aim up or down at different angles. This gets increasingly frustrating in the later levels full of airborne enemies, as Shelldon can't jump high enough to hit them until they swoop down low; a simple button added to aim upwards would've solved this problem entirely.

Turtle Tale is a cakewalk for the majority of the game, but the difficulty curve skyrockets upwards about two-thirds of the way through. It's not a fair challenge, either; it's difficult in the same way that many old NES platformers like Castlevania are difficult, as levels are full of small platforms floating precariously above water, lava, or bottomless pits that instantly kill you, while every single hit from an enemy knocks Shelldon back to tumble to his doom. Like Castlevania, jumping in Turtle Tale is rigid and stale, and often enemies will pop onscreen as Shelldon is in mid-air to knock him to his death without a chance to recover. The incredible challenge in later sequences of Turtle Tale relies entirely on this cheap mechanic to make you play the levels over and over again; luckily Shelldon has infinite lives, but the unfair difficulty stops being fun and starts getting tedious very quickly.

All this could be forgiven if the level designs were clever or unique, but virtually every stage merely consists of platforms at slightly different heights and gaps Shelldon must jump over. Occasionally there's your requisite falling platform, constantly-scrolling level, or lava raft, but there's no sense of progression; the end of a level doesn't feel any different from the beginning, and the finish line seems arbitrarily placed at a fixed distance from the starting line. For the most part, enemies simply bound back and forth on platforms waiting for you to shoot them, and each of the game's five worlds only introduces one or two entirely new bad guys. The rest are just new sprites over old enemies, as the crabs in the Beach world become lizards in the Forest world and the seagulls become toucans; there's also a monkey in a Devo hat that inexplicably appears in every single level of the game.

Conclusion

At its low price point, Turtle Tale is an entirely functional platforming adventure from a small indie studio that you can breeze through in a day or two. In strict accordance to its retro roots, however, most of the challenge to be found revolves entirely around repetitive, unfair platforming mechanics and a lack of multi-directional aiming. 3DS owners are truly spoiled for choice when it comes to great 2D platformers on the eShop, so if you've got a hankering for old-school action platforming, your dollars (or pounds, or euros, or kroner...) are perhaps better spent elsewhere.

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User Comments (44)

RCMADIAX

#1

RCMADIAX said:

I was fortunate enough to be able to test out the Wii U version of this game and I think it's great! Despite the score, this really is a decent platformer, I would absolutely recommend everyone give this a try. I know I will be. :)

TG1

#3

TG1 said:

I'm surprised Jake didn't mention the second quest - it's half of the game!

LunaticPandora

#4

LunaticPandora said:

Oh God, the cover "art!" It looks like something you could whip up on Microsoft Word in an afternoon!

vonseux

#5

vonseux said:

Gosh, why do games like this get approved by Nintendo ? I think that games on consoles should have a better level of craft and design, no matter the price range. I agree with #4.

2Sang

#6

2Sang said:

I might pick it up regardless of its rating just because of its orginality and creativity.

C-Olimar

#7

C-Olimar said:

Seems OK for the price. I have an abundance of platformers on 3DS though, so I'll most likely wait for the Wii U version.

mystman12

#9

mystman12 said:

I can't believe a game this ugly managed to get a 5. This looks like something straight out of the App Store. Never judge a game by its graphics I guess.

Dezzy

#11

Dezzy said:

This game actually devalues the 3DS in my eyes. Why did Nintendo let this through?

HugoSmits

#12

HugoSmits said:

@vonseux @Dezzy Because Nintendo does not Judge on style/taste, and hopefully they never will. You guys might think this art style doesn’t look good, other people might really like it!

Also, I have been playing this game for quite some time.. and it’s actually really good. Plays like classic Megaman and Castlevania!

EdEN

#15

EdEN said:

@vonseux: Not really. I've played the game to review it over at 4cr, and it's a fun platformer (obviously developed on a low budget) with around 3-4 hours of content. When you complete the game after collecting all the fruit, a second quest is unlocked, and this features no checkpoints, a higher difficulty and a new set of 15 levels.

Definitely worth the $3.

ACK

#18

ACK said:

Say what you will, but my son is going to love this. Saturnine has my respect.

Rococoman

#20

Rococoman said:

IOS continues to get indie games like Wayward Souls and League of Evil, while the eShop gets this. C'mon Nintendo, where are some real indie games? Rogue Legacy? Spelunky? Fez?

Sugar_Crunch_BD

#21

Sugar_Crunch_BD said:

A game does not need to be good to get put through QA, it just needs to actually work and not be a buggy mess, this doesnt fit my tastes, but it is not horrific.
@Rococoman Nintendo can't make indie devs make games for them, that is the devs choice.

Windy

#25

Windy said:

I will probably pick this up at some point. I think it looks cool. I bet the graphics look cool all stretched out in 3d and using parallax. Not enough of these in the Eshop. I loved Bloody Vampire and I'm sure this will be fun too.

Erixsan

#26

Erixsan said:

"there's also a monkey in a Devo hat that inexplicably appears in every single level of the game."

@JakeShapiro Aren't they part of the pirates who takes the island?

TG1

#27

TG1 said:

@Erixsan Yes. The plot of the game is that the island is invaded by pirate monkeys. Inexplicable indeed ... unless you watch the first 30 seconds of the game, lol.

MeloMan

#28

MeloMan said:

This reminds me of Adventure Island for some reason... which I've always liked. I'd probably consider this if I have nothing else to play and it hits a good discount. I'm a little bothered by one thing though: Does Shelldon EVER blink...? :o

WaveBoy

#30

WaveBoy said:

Anybody willing to try this out seriously has a bad case of gaming addiction. :P
This looks like an elementry school project.

Seriously, what is anybody going to get out of this? it does nothing that we haven't seen before, and it looks like utter crap. lol perhaps it's a somewhat decent introduction to retro gaming IF you don't happen to have a nintendo console on standbye for your youngins, but other than that...i can't believe nintendo let this through.

The sad truth of the matter is that this game will earn more money than Zack & Wiki ever did.....poor 'brilliant' zack & wiki is going to get Turtle Taled' :P

Erixsan

#35

Erixsan said:

@WaveBoy This game isn't crap, even when it looks simple.
This is an indie game made for a few people who worked on it and you're just an idiot.

If you think you can do something better, just do it.

WaveBoy

#36

WaveBoy said:

@Erixsan

....Are you kidding me?
Oh, believe me. I could do something MILES better than this company could ever dream of. you clearly haven't seen my art or what i'm capable of, it's my forte. And resorting to name calling just shows your age. I wouldn't be surprised if you actually worked for the company. There's a massive selection of great games out there on multiple systems that do what this game does and 'more' 10x better and actualy boast visuals that were well crafted unlike this basic paint looking flash animated elementry school newgrounds crap. This is just wasteful shovel ware and should never of passed quality inspection.lol

I might as well be playing Amagon, at least it has charm, semi quality 8-bit visuals, decent music and does more than what Turtle Tale is striving to do. ;)

Erixsan

#37

Erixsan said:

@WaveBoy It looks like you're just trolling.

1. I'm 18 years old.
2. Worked for the company? I know about the game because I reviewed it. In your case, you didn't played it.
3. Please show me your "miles better" work.
4. I'm not kidding

WaveBoy

#38

WaveBoy said:

@Erixsan
Take a stroll down in the the NL Art forum if you want to see my late night random sketch doodles, it's nothing serious. like it will matter though because you will say something negative regardless considering how lovely are conversation is going. ;) And how am i trolling? Have you read the other comments, they're not exactly glowing with positivity. I will say though, the game definitely seems to play 'OK' but it's not doing anything different, it's not doing anything that we havent seen before and it's NOT easy on the eyes.lol This is the type of art style/visuals that i'd expect on an obscure 'nobody wants to play' I-phone game. Those palm trees look terrible! lol the environments are just, oh man...

I honestly don't understand how somebody could be on the defense over a game like this. :P

TG1

#39

TG1 said:

@WaveBoy Have you played this game yet? I'm not saying it's a great game, but I've at least beaten it. I hope you aren't just basing your strongly expressed opinions on this review. For all of Jake's fair comments, he did fail to touch on literally half the game! Anyway, just my two cents. I hate to see insults traded, especially over a budget indie game.

I do agree with you on Zack & Wiki though - lots of potential for a sequel!

Erixsan

#40

Erixsan said:

@WaveBoy "I honestly don't understand how somebody could be on the defense over a game like this. :P"

I'm in a defense on someone who worked and and a user like you insult it just because he wants without knowing.

"And how am i trolling? Have you read the other comments, they're not exactly glowing with positivity. I will say though, the game definitely seems to play 'OK' but it's not doing anything different"

Ejem:
"Anybody willing to try this out seriously has a bad case of gaming addiction. "
"Seriously, what is anybody going to get out of this? it does nothing that we haven't seen before, and it looks like utter crap. lol "

Drac_Mazoku

#41

Drac_Mazoku said:

The game deserves indeed a 5/10 objectively...BUT, I still had fun with it. Yeah there's tons of better game out there, yeah it looks cheap as heck, but everything was working perfectly fine and for an "End of day"-quick game that doesnt ask for too much brain power, it does the job. Plus, the second quest had some really fun platforming moment. The game is 3$, I played it around 2-3 hours with the second quest, so yeah, it succeed in the 1$/hour formula.

Magrane

#43

Magrane said:

I picked up this game for my love of simple platformers and the price. This review pretty much nails it on the score, but I would have given it a "6" because the graphics and 3D effects are just beautiful. However, this game is waaay too average - just a character with a jump and a weapon. Nothing else to this game. So much potential from a developer's perspective that would make this game great, but they didn't go there. Maybe for Turtle Tale 2? :P

DarkCoolEdge

#44

DarkCoolEdge said:

@TG1 I have beaten the game and it shouldn't cost $3. Not even close. Even more so when Gunman Clive is available for just $2 and is much better in any way imaginable.

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