Teen Titans is an action game for the Gamecube in the vein of Baldur’s Gate II or the X-Men: Legends series starring the five young heroes from the DC comic and more recent Cartoon Network animated series. You and three friends can take control of Robin, Cyborg, Beast Boy, Starfire, or Raven as they take on numerous baddies from the television series.
The basic gameplay is in Story Mode which is that of an action brawler. One of our staff members here at Mygamer has coined the immortal phrase of the Button Masher. Teen Titans is, at its heart, a button masher. The camera floats slightly above the scene of the carnage. All five Titans are present onscreen the whole time, and the player can switch between them at will by pressing the D-pad. The Titans have a Life Meter and a Charge Meter. There are three primary attacks: weak, strong, and ranged. Each primary attack has a charged variant, where you hold down the button for a few seconds and then release for a much stronger attack. Performing a charged variant uses up some of the Charge Meter. In order to replenish the Charge Meter, you must perform simple combos. As you progress through the game, each Titan unlocks different combos. While there are a limited number of button combinations, the animations change and the effects grow a little stronger as you move further along.
The Titan’s arsenal is rounded out by a few other extraneous moves such as block and pickup/throw. One aspect that seems to be glaringly absent is really any cooperative attacks. They added one team attack, almost as an afterthought it seems, where if someone throws an enemy, nearby teammates can juggle him in midair until he is defeated. Whereas the show has numerous examples of the Titans working together, it would have been nice if some of that could have translated into the gameplay.
The story is not overtly complex. The game begins with a few mini-scenes that introduce the players to the gameplay mechanics. Eventually the Titans are overwhelmed by Slade bots and the words GAME OVER appear on the screen. It turns out Beast Boy was playing a video game starring the Titans. Before they can eject the game, their TV mysteriously turns black and the Titan Tower is attacked. The remainder of the story involves the Titans trying to figure out who sent them the game. The developers try and throw some metaphysics into the end, but essentially the story is pretty straight forward.
The level design is one that has been around for ages. The Titans are chasing one of the main bad guys like Cinderblock, Mumbo Jumbo, or their HIVE nemeses through each stage. The Titan’s battles are punctuated with numerous short FMVs that advance the story of their pursuit. A grandiose, but usually not very elaborate, boss fights await them at the end of each level. And then they move on to the next villain.
Throughout each level, there are various power-ups and bonuses to collect along the way. Also at the end of each level, you receive a grade on how well you performed. Collecting the bonuses and maxing out your grades allows you to unlock extra content such as art galleries, video clips, and contenders and levels in the Master of Games mode.
The Master of Games mode is an EXTREMELY slimmed down fighting aspect of the game. When there is only one player, you can only play against one computer opponent. When there is more than one player, you cannot have any computer controlled opponents. These limitations in setting up the matches are fairly disappointing. It would have been nice to have some options in the number of computer controlled players for times when you don’t have four people to join in. Furthermore, while there is an impressive number of fighters, most of the fighters do not have their full compliment of combos as the Titans do. Thus the Titans and their variations (Robin in Slade Apprentice suit, Beast Boy in his Mega Meaty Meat Employee outfit) have a distinct advantage over the other characters.
The graphics for the game are extremely solid except for one major detail. I will get to this detail in a moment and it could be simply a personal preference. All the graphics are 3D stylized versions of much of the characters and environments from the animated show on Cartoon Network. There are some nice particle effects for the Titan’s powers such as Starfire’s Starbolts and Raven’s dark magic attacks. The environments are well done and range from outdoor city scenes to Titan Tower to Mumbo Jumbo’s Hat. There are numerous cut scenes between events in the stage. While the animation in these scenes are only slightly better rendered than the in-game animation, they still look pretty good. There is the one detail, however, that irks me like a splinter in my brain. All of the character designs are based on the animated show as well, but they are all off kilter. It is mainly in their faces. They just look different, and in this case where the designs from the show were pretty good, different is bad. It wouldn’t be a huge deal, except all of the cutscenes move in closer and show the Titans in greater detail. Therefore, you are constantly reminded of their misshapen visages. Again, this is just one detail of the animation, but it is a pretty big aspect to have chosen to get wrong.
The sound of the game is very solid as well. The developers incorporated the voice actors from the animated series with every character that speaks. Furthermore, the Titan’s are constantly chattering as you fight as well as during the cutscenes. Some of their one-liners get a little old, but it was nice to see the developers really take advantage of the original voice talent to its fullest. The music of the game takes a background role to the fighting effects and voice work. The music is subtle and usually blends into the situation at hand.
Overall the gameplay is button mashing at its best. If you are not wild about this style, the game will seem extremely monotonous. There are two breaks in the gameplay towards the end of the game, where you get to play a version of Pong and Space Invaders. It would have been nice if they had thrown little variations like that throughout the entire game. There are three difficulty levels as well as the collection aspect to allow for some replay value. Once you have completed a level, you can choose to play it anytime via a Level Selection in the main menu. The Master of Games mode is pretty useless unless you have more people, and even then the gameplay is limited.
In the end, if you are a fan of the characters, the game has enough to keep you entertained for at least one run through. If you aren’t a fan, there are other brawler button mashers out there that have more depth to them.