Review: IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Board Games

I recently was gifted a copy of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles board game Showdown and after playing it, I decided to finally buy another TMNT game called Shadows of the Past. I had coveted Shadows of the Past since I first saw their kickstarter campaign. The games are very different from one another, but both have something to offer. Popular board game reviewers have videos on YouTube that are far better at reviewing games than I am, so what you’re going to get here is the viewpoint of a slightly more experienced than average board game player (notice I didn’t mention skill) and a lifelong obsessed Ninja Turtles fan.

Both games are part of the IDW universe. This means, you get to see art that is based on the IDW comics which adds to the awesomeness. Both games also used popular game designers and consulted with the folks at IDW. Before I begin contrasting the games, I encourage you to explore some of the rich history that the franchise has with gaming in regards to the role playing game Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and other Strangeness. Here is a link to an interview where Tom Waltz, writer for all of the main IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles issues, discussed his first exposure to the game

Showdown is a Bebop and Rocksteady centric game that is pretty stripped down as far as the pieces you get and the game play is very straight forward. It is designed to be fast to learn and fast to play. A round with two people can be over in 20 minutes. You can play up to 6 people and you play on teams split into the good and bad guys. If you are playing as Bebop and Rocksteady, your job is to get to the turtles and beat them up.The turtles can also fight Bebop and Rocksteady, but they have another objective which is to rescue their friends. The recommended age for this game is 10 years old and up, but it could be enjoyed by any child who could play chess and maybe even checkers. My one complaint with this game is how cumbersome the character’s avatars are as they are plastic cards on stands. You have to fit multiples in the same area and it can be challenging and clumsy. The design of the cards however is beautiful and the decision to use them rather than miniatures helps to keep the cost down. Simple features like the turtles special moves or Bebop and Rocksteady’s different weapons help with the potential monotony a game like this could have. The thing I enjoy most about Showdown is how fast and straightforward it is. I haven’t played as the baddies, so I can’t say if simply trying to kill the turtles is enough to keep you engaged.

Shadows of the Past is a much more in depth and different kind of game. It is marketed to a more adult audience and costs considerably more, provided you don’t find it on sale. Expect your first go at it to take up to two hours since you’ll be unboxing, learning the rules, setting up the board, and playing your first scenario. The box is chocked full. It has more than 40 beautifully sculpted miniatures and even a game edition of issue one of the IDW turtles comic book. The game includes booklets with many different scenarios and there are different boards and different ways to set them up for each scenario. The game has a plot line that runs through each of the scenarios and they build upon each other in how they use the mechanics you’ve learned in the previous scenario. The game designer used is Kevin Wilson, who has designed some other popular games such as Descent. The thing that I enjoyed most about this game is how many cool moves there are. You can scale buildings, slide on rails and each turtle has a pretty cool special ability. I got the game for 50% off and I think it is definitely worth twice what I paid for it.

Being that these games are so different regarding price point, gameplay, and average length of time to complete, I feel that choosing between them is irrelevant. I’d honestly recommend owning both. That being said, if you’re a serious gamer and you don’t have any little ones or often play with any other turtles fans or beginners, I’d maybe skip Showdown. For my personal interests and skill level, Showdown is a fine game though. If I had young kids and no adult gaming friends, I’d purchase Showdown and wait until they were 12 or so to introduce them to Shadows of the Past. An adult beginner could definitely learn Shadows after a few tries though. That’s about it for my review, but don’t skip out on checking out the podcast I linked and check out my review of NC Comicon where the recording took place!


Entertainment Earth