Growing up back in the ’80s through the 90s, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games were some of the best games in the beat’em up genre. From the NES TMNT 2: Arcade, TMNT 3: The Manhattan Project, TMNT: The Hyperstone Heist on the Sega Genesis, to the acclaimed TMNT: Turtles In Time on the SNES. TMNT games were golden. Sadly,the franchise has been a hit and miss affair (mostly miss) since that era. There have been many TMNT games released over the last 20 years from the early 2k Turtle games based on the 4Kids TMNT series, and most recently on the last gen PS3 and Xbox 360.
In 2013, GameInformer’s 2 out of 10 review for developer Red Fly’s TMNT: Out Of The Shadows was probably the worst review yet in a long history of dud after dud. Sure, TMNT: Reshelled (a 2008 remake of Turtles In Time) was a lot of fun and Wayward Forward’s take on the turtles with 2014’s TMNT: Danger Of The Ooze was a solid game as well, but far from recapturing the magic of the franchises early console golden years. Which is a shame. When you sit back and look at the past 20 years of gaming, there are very few other franchises out there that has had as many games as the TMNT franchise. Most notably, Star Wars. Think about that for a minute. Now I am not talking about the countless Super Mario/Sonic spin offs over the years, but actual games specifically developed to appeal to the franchises gamer demographic. Which in the case of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles–is to kick some shell and send Foot Ninja crying for Shredder to save them up and down the streets of New York City.
Which leads us to this past week’s release, TMNT: Mutants In Manhattan. A game that has a lot of mixed reviews and some pretty harsh reviews as well. Specifically, IGN’s 4.9 out of 10. A review as a TMNT fan, I strongly disagree with. There is only one other modern TMNT game to compare this latest offering with, and that my turtle friends would be TMNT: Out Of The Shadows. A game that had some solid combat and great ideas such as a deep upgrade system that a TMNT game had no business even having to begin with but was overshadowed by glitches, bad voice acting and terrible cut scenes. By comparison, Mutants In Manhattan is hands down the most polished modern TMNT game to date, but does that make it a good game?
I think IGN”s review missed one key variable to their 4.9 review. PlatinumGames is not in the “AAA” game business. They make fun, yet simple games dedicated to universes of beloved franchises. When rating a game on a 1-to-10 scale, one must consider all aspects. Similar to comparing a fast food Burger King whopper to say, a $10 dollar cheeseburger from Red Robin. Sure that Red Robin burger is great, but does that make the whopper a bad burger? In a world where Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, and MGS 5: The Phantom Pain are true masterpieces with a 9 or 10 out of 10 reviews–I just don’t think it is fair to review developer PlatinumGames’ Mutants In Manhattan on the same scale. Sure by comparison, those game of the year titles mentioned are far superior. However, as a TMNT fan who has suffered 2 decades of horrible turtle games, Mutants In Manhattan is the greatest modern Turtles game to date, and most importantly, it is a lot of fun to play.
One thing PlatinumGames has in spades, is their ability to develop a game that truly looks like it was taken right out of the franchises universe. Legend Of Korra and Transformers Devastation were both beautiful games. Some complained that the city environments were a bit dull in Transformers Devastation, but what they failed to grasp was this was inspired by a 1980’s cartoon series and Platinum absolutely nailed it, and Mutants In Manhattan is no different. The game is a giant love letter to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. The character designs of the turtles and their adversaries truly oozes IDW and even a small pinch of the 4Kids TMNT series to boot. Watching the Turtles stop and dance while sitting on top a NYC Skyscraper is just one example of the polish that went into this game.
Now I am not saying this open world is on the same level as a Rockstar Grand Theft Auto title, and why would I? Remember, this is a whopper I am devouring, not a $10 cheeseburger. That said, it is a dream come true to run the roof tops with my Turtle brothers in a IDW comic inspired open word TMNT game. The first to ever do it I might add and that alone is a huge plus for me. Each of the 9 main campaign missions are based off completing several side missions as you level up for each boss fight. Speaking of boss fights, one cool nod to the old console days is that as you continue to beat down each boss, they will begin to flash red just like the good old days on the original Nintendo.
One giant leap for Turtles and gamers would be the fantastic cut scenes and voice acting. This isn’t that crappy still shot cut scenes from TMNT: Out Of The Shadows. Cut scenes in Mutants In Manhattan are the real deal. No ugly Turtles here. Just polished and solid cut scenes that do their job. Which is to immerse us into the universe as we jump into the action with our controller. Voice acting is very well done too. Not as great as 2014’s Danger Of The Ooze which actually had the Nick TMNT cartoon series voice crew, but better than what we got with Out Of The Shadows. Each voice was very well within sync with each character. Never once did I think that any of the voices felt odd with the Turtles or their villains.
Combat is quite fluid, but at times, can be a bit too fast to keep up. Truth be told, I actually liked the combat system a bit more in Out Of The Shadows, which was more inspired by Rocksteady Studios’ Batman: Arkham series. Still, the combat system in Mutants In Manhattan is a lot of fun and easy to learn. Make no mistake though, this is not an easy game for any gamer. I don’t think 8-year-old Zack ,the honorary 5th turtle, would be able to blaze through the game. Even on normal mode, these boss fights can be challenging. Another very cool aspect is the replay value. Once you have beaten the game, you will unlock a harder difficulty mode where the boss fights change and throw some cool surprises at you that I won’t spoil.
Just a couple of minor complaints would be that I wish the Turtle lair would have been a bit more interactive instead of just a simple backdrop while you go through the upgrade menu system, and of course a longer campaign with more side missions, but that’s like complaining that my two dollar whopper got eaten so quickly.
I give TMNT: Mutants In Manhattan a very fun yet short 7 out of 10.