Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rooftop Run (iOS) review

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rooftop Run (hereafter Rooftop Run) is a new iOS game from Nickelodeon. It’s available now as a $1.99 download from the App Store, and carries additional in-app purchases. The game displays a prominent advisory message about in-app purchases upon being run for the first time.

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Rooftop Run is, as its name suggests, another in the long line of endless runner games available on the App Store. Taking on the role of one of the four Turtles, the player must survive as long as possible against endless waves of Foot Clan ninjas while simultaneously ensuring they do not fall off the rooftops or run out of “speed” — a constantly-diminishing resource that causes the game to end if it depletes completely, but which can be replenished by collecting glowing green energy orbs scattered around the play area. Filling the speed bar completely causes the game to switch to “Turtle Time,” at which point the player can gain bonuses by fighting off incoming Foot Clan ninjas with taps on the screen in indicated positions. After Turtle Time ends, play continues, but the speed bar begins to deplete more quickly, making it more difficult to fill again.

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The game’s controls are very simple — arguably too much so. Everything is controlled by tapping on the screen; there are no gestures for specific moves. Tapping once on the screen causes the turtle to jump; tapping again causes them to “double jump” in mid-air; tapping while there is a wall in the background sometimes allows them to “wall run” (though this behavior is far from consistent); tapping when an enemy is nearby causes the turtle to “lock on” and attack them. This simple control system is easy to understand but can sometimes be unpredictable, occasionally doing silly things like launching the turtle at enemies and into subsequent danger when all the player wanted to do was double-jump over an obstacle.

Between runs, players may use coins earned (or acquired through in-app purchase) to upgrade their characters with various items including boosters, gear, and improved weaponry. Many of these items require a considerable amount of “grinding” to acquire if the player does not wish to reach for the in-app purchase button — though the app is more than willing to extract up to $50 at a time from the user’s iTunes account to help them acquire all the available goodies.

The game is a solid, if fairly unremarkable endless runner, but technical issues, an agonizingly slow pace of progress and a disappointing lack of content for a paid game mar the experience significantly. The game is blighted with long loading breaks and occasionally crashes back to the iOS home screen without warning while simply loading the level. Restarts are not immediate, either; after a run has been completed, there is a loading break before the player can play again. In this kind of game, being able to restart immediately is all but essential to maintain player interest, so this enforced delay between attempts is detrimental to the overall experience. Couple these lengthy load times with an inconsistent, choppy frame rate, crashing problems and the fact it takes a long time to get anywhere near enough in-game currency to afford even the cheapest upgrades, and you’re left with a disappointing package for which there are far better alternatives available — many of which are free-to-play titles rather than paid apps.

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The game will likely attract some success in the short term due to its recognizable characters, but if early App Store reviews are anything to go by, not many people are going to stick with it unless it undergoes some serious improvements in the very near future.

You can follow Rooftop Run’s progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social games and developers.

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A solid endless runner blighted with lengthy load times, choppy frame rates, crashing problems and a glacial rate of progress.

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