Old-school Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans have been waiting for this. Sure, the Nickelodeon cartoon has a decent following, but in my humble opinion, the roided-up TMNT movies by Michael Bay are about as unappetizing as a slice of snot pizza. And somehow, the TMNT video games have been worse. In the last ten years, we have been beaten back by a string of disappointments from TMNT from Ubisoft in 2007, to Smash-Up in 2009 and Danger of the Ooze in 2014. Not even the “Re-Shelled” remake of Turtles in Time could live up to turtle power.
Luckily, we need look no further. Like a ninja dangerously hiding in a pile of dumpster trash, PlatinumGames is here to save the day—and the TMNT name—with TMNT: Mutants in Manhattan, an action brawler that has that signature PlatinumGames combat style but respectfully pays homage to the original TMNT comics too. Activision and PlatinumGames showcased both the single-player and the four-player co-operative mode at a private meeting during GDC 2016, highlighting its laid-back and light-hearted interpretation of the franchise as well as the importance of turtle teamwork in both modes.
As you would expect, Shredder is back to no good and a wave of crime has swept The Big Apple once again. Bebop, who makes a triumphant return along with Rocksteady, Krang, and Shredder, seems to be the culprit at least at the beginning of the game, and the brotastic turtles need to discover his location. Every mission is set up in mostly the same way: get an objective, run around the city to find the objective, complete the objective, get another objective, and continue on like this until you face the boss. Whether it's bashing Foot Clan grunts in the head, dodging helicopter bullet fire, or rolling giant money bags to an endpoint while avoiding oncoming trucks and exploding fire barrels, the objectives gradually become more challenging… and sillier.
Each turtle has a distinct personality that comes straight through their combat skills. Leonardo has solid all-around attacks that have medium range and strength, while Raphael has slower but much more devastating attacks at close range. Michelangelo has the highest combo potential with his nunchakus, contrasting with Donatello's sweeping attacks that have incredible range. On top of that, each turtle has a unique ability that can turn the tide of battle, notably Leonardo's ability to slow down time and Michelangelo's Cheerleading ability that instantly restores the cooldowns of every other turtle.
The primary ability to keep your eye on is by far the combo which only activates when two turtles near each other hit the right command at about the same time. For co-operative play, that obviously lends itself to players coordinating with one another, but for solo play, that means swapping out your character quickly to complete the combo. Performing combos can clear almost any room of enemies and is one of the only ways to deal any meaningful damage to a boss.
In PlatinumGames style, bosses are no joke and Bebop is no exception, having multiple bars of health, firing purple lasers every which way, and throwing out bombs all around the stage. This means mastering the combat system which any PlatinumGames fan will recognize, particularly with a dodge button that can avoid pretty much anything so long as you time it correctly, but also noticing when you need to turtle-swap and manage ability cooldowns. Even regular abilities have their place in combat, like Invincibility that can make your chosen turtle immune for a short time, perfect for Raphael to land a ridiculous amount of damage uninterrupted.
In between objectives, you can traverse the city by wall-jumping, bouncing on awnings, and grinding electricity wires like something out of Sunset Overdrive, collecting all sorts of green and red orbs for additional health points and items. Defeating enemies will also net your turtle Battle Points which act as currency which can be spent, like rings in Bayonetta, on purchasing all sorts of items at the store, accessible by finding a manhole.
Be careful, though. The game will continue to run in the background while you're shopping, so you'll want to get in and out quickly, stocking up on pizzas for health and drinks for stat boosts. In fact, there's a whole lineup of gadgets too like frozen bombs, plasma mines, and turrets—all inspired by the SWAT line of TMNT figurines—that might sound weird, but can be deadly if you can get all four turtles to lay them down at the same time. (I asked the developers whether the headsets the turtles were wearing were from Turtle Beach, har har. No, but seriously, Activision, you can make this happen.)
Last but not least are Charms, which bestow powerful permanent effects and typically drop from bosses. At their lowest rarity, Charms can give a turtle some attack power and bonus health, but as you combine Charms or find higher-tier Charms out of sheer luck, they can essentially turn into cheats. Apart from tripling basic damage and quadrupling health, you can turn the lowly shuriken into stunning shurikens for crowd control or exploding shurikens for long-range offense. Normal difficulty only gives you one slot for Charms, but Very Hard difficulty gives you three slots for Charms, signaling that, yes, you're going to need all the help you can get. I mean, this is PlatinumGames, is it not?
TMNT: Mutants in Manhattan comes out of the half-shell on May 24, 2016 for Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, and PS3.