When news hit that Platinum Games was working on a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game, was anyone surprised when the nerd stratosphere blew up with excitement? After all, Platinum is one of the premiere action game developers today, which was proven the last time they collaborated with Activision by way of Transformers: Devastation. Knowing what the team could do with our favorite turtles, we jumped at the chance to get our hands on the upcoming brawler at Wondercon. If there was any doubt in your mind that they could repeat the magic with another licensed property, rest assured. The game is great so far!
My biggest worry going into the TMNT: Mutants in Manhattan demo was that it wouldn’t be as unique as it could be. After all, regardless of how fun Transformers was, it was essentially a re-skinned Bayonetta. While there are admittedly few games you would rather have serve as the basis behind your game, there were times when the robots in disguise didn’t feel like themselves because of it. This is not the case with the turtles, with mechanics that felt all their own, while playing up to the strengths of the franchise.
Somewhat less reliant on combos compared to Platinum’s other games, Mutants in Manhattan focuses more on teamwork between the four turtles. With the option to switch between Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael on the fly, each one has their own set of attacks to unleash on the Foot Clan. To differentiate them even further, each one has their own set of special attacks that range from damage dealing onslaughts to support abilities like replenishing health with a pizza party. Depending on who’s in the fight, you can even unleash double team attacks to send the enemies packing.
As you would expect from the developer, the enemies aren’t exactly pushovers either. While they go down easily enough, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the multiple enemies coming at you at once, each one color coded to signify different attack patterns reminiscent to the Konami games of our youth. The turtles’ health drains quickly, so a handful of mistakes can mean your team might drop in numbers quickly. Perhaps keeping in mind that this game will likely be targeting kids first and foremost, it’s very easy to being fallen comrades back, especially since they’ll revive on their own if you hold out for long enough. Even if you all get defeated, a button mashing pizza eating mini game will revive everyone to the point where they were beaten. This might disappoint the hardcore crowd who enjoy the punishing difficulty Platinum is known for, but knowing them, there could be options to boost the difficulty in the full version.
Most surprising at all however, is what happens between fights. The city stage that I played had the turtles traversing New York in a more open ended way than we would expect from a beat em up such as this. While not completely free roam thanks to clearly defined boundaries, players will move from objective to objective in a non-linear way thanks to the city offering multiple paths. Going off course and searching a little closer can even lead to hidden items, so it’ll be worth it to explore every corner you can.
If I didn’t have enough reason to be excited about TMNT: Mutants in Manhattan, my time with the game made sure to leave me with plenty. Its co-op focused battle system, (whether you’re playing with someone else or not,) is intriguing while the addition of exploration was a welcomed surprise. The toned down difficulty might concern the Platinum Games faithful, but so far, their unique take on the turtles more than makes up for it.
Check back for our full impressions when Mutants in Manhattan releases on May 24th.