Donatello, Michelangelo, Leonardo and Raphael. Anybody growing up in the ‘80s knew these names and, perhaps sadly, we didn’t know them to be four of the finest artisans in human history. We only knew them as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and as many cartoons from my childhood – “Transformers” first among them – have enjoyed quite the resurgence in mainstream media over the past decade or so, it’s no surprise to see the resurrection of an arcade classic. That’s really what TMNT: Mutants in Manhattan is: A four-player arcade-like bash-fest that will be very reminiscent of the smash hit, Turtles in Time. And guess who’s behind it? That’s right, Bayonetta and Vanquish developer PlatinumGames.
Obviously, the franchise was always perfect for four-player co-op, which made it a huge draw in the arcades. Now, with multiplayer driving much of the industry forward, it’s only logical that TMNT makes a triumphant return. Mutants in Manhattan seeks to capture the spirit of early titles in the series and marries it with an updated – and very slick cel-shaded – palette, along with a modern-day multiplayer structure. Expect much of the flair for which Platinum is so well known, and although I realize local co-op has long since been replaced, there are many who believe local multiplayer remains the best way to play with others. In other words, this promising new effort really seems like the best of both worlds, old and new.
Based on the media we’ve seen thus far, this TMNT adventure will be fast and furious, allowing the player to put together some insane combos. Well, if you’re at all familiar with Bayonetta, you won’t be surprised to see such an intricate and in-depth fighting mechanic. One could argue that given the intended audience for TMNT, the combat shouldn’t be too deep but hey, Mutants In Manhattan isn’t purely designed for kids. I doubt the game will be as hard as the standard Platinum offering, despite the complex fighting systems lurking beneath the flashy surface. Besides, it’ll be loads of fun teaming up with multiple Turtles; combining individual attacks into one devastating assault should have a big impact on bosses.
There will also be a platforming element as well, as the talented team can grind on pipes, sprint along walls, and generally turn the besieged city into its own personal playground. This might be an amped-up version of the original cartoon and many of the first TMNT video games, but it’s a logical progression, right? And as you might expect, the storyline won’t exactly be a focal point, as the focus will be squarely on the ceaseless action. Each area has a boss you must conquer and face but up until that confrontation, the encounters will be random, which means you can play the same section over and over without it feeling too repetitive. The Foot Clan could emerge from anywhere, so you’ll have to be on your toes! If you run out of health, you warp back to the Turtles’ home in the sewers and a mini-game ensues where you have to eat as much pizza as possible.
Nice to see they’re retaining some of that lighthearted flair of the cartoon. The atmosphere and generally over-the-top attitude of the original Turtles will be evident, despite Platinum’s highly stylized and unique character models. As you can see in the screenshots, these Turtles are definitely more…fashionable, I guess. Everything else should be plenty familiar; April O’Neil will feed the Turtles valuable intel as they progress, Shredder and Krang will still be at the top of the villain food chain, and bosses will include Bebop and Rocksteady. The faceless Foot Clan will be there in abundance as well, of course, and provided the control is tight and responsive, and it’s not too hard to master the fighting, this one should be a blast for all ages. We could use an awesome arcade throwback!
My only concern is that after a few hours, the game could start to feel very repetitive, even though I know we’re getting randomized encounters. Without much of a story or anything substantial to grasp onto aside from the combat, that combat needs to be endlessly engaging. I also wonder if the game will be as fulfilling when playing solo. I expect it to really shine when playing with others, obviously, but I don’t want to feel as if I’m missing out big time just because I choose to play alone. Aside from these minor reservations, however, I have plenty of faith in this developer and I’m willing to bet that TMNT: Mutants in Manhattan will be an excellent option when it arrives on May 24.
4/12/2016 Ben Dutka