Ready? Set! Start your Snails!!
The movie Turbo is another cute animated story where the underdog gets ridiculed, tormented, and downtrodden until events make it possible for him to rise above all of that and make a name for himself. Turbo – real name: Theo – is sucked into a racecar’s engine and the gases within the engine swirl around and mix with his DNA. The result is a turbo-charged snail with eyes for headlights, a slimy quick body to handle tight and narrow curves, and an epic looking racing shell.
However, when I cued up the Wii U version of Turbo: Super Stunt Squad I was presented with a rather fat looking snail, funky Southern California techno beats, and a choppy looking background scene from the movie. The next thing I noticed is that this version has no racing aspect at all – unlike the Wii version – which was a letdown. Aside from that, at least the title quite accurately describes the type of game that you\’ll get.
I went into the tutorial mode using the GamePad trying to adjust to the weird controls. You use the ZR button to accelerate and the B button to jump and the rest is just confusing. The tutorial does not present enough direction to help players remember what each button does, and with such little aid available, your snail always ends up falling into the abyss or peeling out. (Can a snail do that?)
The game invokes memories of the Tony Hawk series with tons of ramps to fly off, huge obstacles to maneuver around, and even a little hot sauce to get you extra revved up. One of the main challenges, reminiscent of the Tony Hawk games, is to collect letters that spell out T-U-R-B-O, and doing that is not very simple. Each scene or level is unique and is taken right out of the film along with some of the techno vibe music (which you can flip through with the D-pad to help make the frantic mess feel a little more comfortable). Other challenges are finding certain items within a 3-minute time limit, performing a perfect combo of stunt moves, landing a perfect jump, finding all of the main areas of importance in that sequence or finding five power tokens.
Each snail has its own unique abilities and handles each ramp, slope, or boost in various different ways. There is a taco house, nail salon, and even a garage with each of its own special items that are more suitable for one snail over another. The physics in the game are atrocious: some of the gaps are so narrow that you can miss a jump; you can get stuck between two obstacles, unable to move; you may even try to do a perfect combo and land flat sideways on your shell as I did.
There is a free play and a timed mode offering up some nice “salty” snail goodies for making it through five stages of laborious tasks. Some of the extras are things like nice shells, specific to each individual snail, and even stickers to spice them up. Timed mode is, of course, only three minutes long and carries objectives that must be met to unlock even more goodies like a trophy. Unfortunately, the only multiplayer mode is a local two-player mode, but this does offer up some nice challenges to customize and make your own.
One good thing is the use of the Gamepad, which you can use to keep track of your objectives, or for off-TV play, and you can snap pictures of your bad moves while sliming over the green tomato.
Turbo: Super Stunt Squad tastes like a salty snail on your tongue leaving a bitter taste in your mouth, but to the younger crowd that have seen the movie and want to strap on a snail shell and speed through some hot sauce while flying over a greasy pot of refried beans it\’s perfect. The graphics are much better in HD than on the Wii but the controls are still a little clunky and there’s not enough information in the tutorial to really offer up enough help on how to maneuver the snail to achieve perfection. The unlockables are ok but don’t really affect the play too much, the catchphrases of some of the characters repeated over and over gets really annoying, and there doesn’t seem to be that much of a difference between timed play and free play.