When Turtle Island is suddenly invaded by Captain O’Haire and his raucous band of pirates, Shelldon finds himself rudely awakened from his snooze in the sun. Not willing to let the isle fall under the control of the marauding hare, he locks and loads his trusty Water Gun before setting off in pursuit.
Turtle Tale is a classic 2D action-platformer in every sense. Slow and steady wins the race as you splash your way through five differentiated areas in your quest to reclaim the sunny shores of Turtle Island, namely being Beach, Forest, Cave, Tiki and Sky. Resplendent in the game’s bold, primary colour aesthetic, players will clamber over sandcastles and dodge leaping blowfish, enhanced further by stereoscopic 3D.
Turtle Tale draws from the early design rulebook for the genre, where enemies follow obvious attack patterns, you can only fire in two directions, health can be replenished by hearts dropped by fallen foes, and certain levels auto-scroll to force players to think ahead.
It’s fairly uncomplicated in regards to player input, only requiring you to control Shelldon’s movement with the Circle Pad, leap whenever necessary with the B Button, and fire watery bursts with the Y Button. That makes it largely easier for players of all ages and skill levels to get involved and pick up how to play and succeed, fairly quickly.
Dismissing Turtle Tale purely from the ease of your first playthrough discredits the insanity that awaits you beyond completion. Your reward for toppling the game’s carrot-lobbing final boss is the devilishly tricky ‘Second Quest,’ which throws aside Shelldon’s desire for collecting fruit, slashes his health in half, removes checkpoints, and ramps up the difficulty to such extremity that you’ll simply want to curl up and hide in his shell. The tranquil yet chirpy soundtrack at least goes some length to settle your nerves.
Annoyance creeps in from the way that Shelldon bounces backwards when suffering any damage, more often than not seeing him tumble to an early death. Whether primarily conceived to be easy to grasp, there’s also little incentive to return to levels once bested. Seasoned players will collect all 100 fruit on each level through naturally playing through the game, and the lack of any competitiveness beyond this is missed.
Turtle Tale is still more than worth the price of admission. Beyond the cartoony exterior lies an action-platformer that hides a deeper degree of challenge waiting to be uncovered. It’s down to you to blast your way toward earning it.
Version Tested: Nintendo 3DS
Review copy provided by Saturnine Games