It's not easy to find an endless runner that offers something fresh while staying true to the simplicity of the genre, but Nickelodeon may be on to something with the first TMNT game for iOS. "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rooftop Run" interestingly mixes running and jumping with combat, scaling walls and quick-time events.
At it's core, "TMNT: Rooftop Run" is your basic side-scrolling endless runner. The game starts with you picking your favorite character – Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael or Michelangelo – and then your off to the New York City, jumping roof-to-roof in true Turtle fashion.
As you progress, you'll start running into members of the Foot Clan and other TMNT villains, which in turn will introduce you to combat. In all honesty, the basic attacks remind me of the dash attack in recent Sonic the Hedgehog games. Whether you're in the air after a jump or just running along, enemies will be highlighted by a red target. When it appears you'll tap the screen until you've gotten by or defeated the evil doer.
Like any other endless runner you're goal here is to keep moving, and you'll have plenty of ways to do it. After a few runs you'll start to figure out your double-jumps and wall-runs. When everything comes together you'll realize the importance of planning out your Turtle's next move, setting up chains between enemies, walls and the higher rooftops you'll discover on along the way.
To keep the Turtle train rolling you'll also need a whole bunch of energy orbs. The only reason your Turtle is running to begin with is because he's got a Kraang Scout Ship on his tail. The green energy orbs floating throughout the game keep this ship away from you. If your energy meter runs out, your run is over. On the contrary, when the energy meter is completely full you'll be thrown into Turtle Time, a quick-time combat event where you'll be given a chance to kick the crap out of a bunch of Foot soldiers and rack up some coins.
Every time an enemy is put down you'll earn coins that can be spent on in-game items including gear, gadgets, boosts and weapons. Gear gives your Turtles a different look, while boosts help you do things like climb faster and collect more coins. Gadgets, however, are one-time use items such as the Laserbot, which follows you and clears out enemies in your path. Weapons are just what you'd expect, upgrades of the weapons used by each Turtle. It will take some time to earn enough coins to make all the upgrades you want, but in-app purchases are present if you want to speed things up.
In addition to unlocking items and upgrades, coins will also be needed if you want to play with more than one character. For instance, if you start the game with Donatello you'll need to earn and save coins to unlock the other Turtles. Dogpound is also playable, but you'll need a lot more coins to unlock him than you will for the Turtles.
If you're ready to give another endless runner a try "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rooftop Run" is definitely worth your time. The Turtles brand makes it a standout in the App Store as it is, but it's the gameplay and fresh ideas that really bring it home. Add to that the excellent visual style and voice actors from Nickelodeon's animated series, and it's a mobile game that's pretty hard pass up at just $1.99.