TMNT Mutants In Manhattan Retrospective

Even for the most diehard turtles fan, the video game medium has not been kind to the heroes in a half shell in recent years. Not since the original Snes days has there been a mesmerizing turtle adventure that could compete with the arcade classics of old.  Licenses games, in general, seem to struggle in adapting film or literary source material into the video game home market. But in 2016 developer Platinum Games tried to buck this trend but developing a title that is both visually stunning and brimming with possibilities in the modern console generation. But the past, unfortunately, came back to haunt TMNT Mutants in Manhattan and what consumers were left with is a product that could have been more than a mere mindless brawler. 

Heroes In A Half Effort

Even with publisher Activision being involved, this title misses out everything that made past turtle brawlers masterpieces during the 8 and 16-bit era. With a mythological landscape as deep as the source materials universe expands, Director Eiro Shirahama fails miserably in providing players with any sense of depth or nuance in this mindless button masher. What is even worse is the game’s lack of local cooperative play which as anyone knows is the foundation of any great beat em up experience. The battles are chaotic at best, as each turtle follows you with the assistance of an AI companion that hinders rather than enhances the experience. 
Turtles jump in and out of the screen, horde power-up items, and repeat the same attacks constantly throughout each level. Such absence of mind in the developer’s approach is greatly magnified but such AI idiocy. Even the plot is as a run of the mill as possible. Krang and Shredder team up with fellow mutants to take over Manhattan and crush the turtles once and for all. Simple enough and even less imaginative to boot. Even the power-up system is mundane as each turtle can utilize the same moves and attacks throughout the game. This seriously takes away the nuance of each hero and makes everything feel rushed and streamlined. Symbolic of the production teams approach to this easily forgotten brawler. But even still, there are some ingredients that could have made this game a must own title. 

A Visual Masterpiece

Regardless of how one feels about this title, Platinum Games managed to utilize a cell shaded art style that is absolutely brilliant in every way. The cut scenes are interesting and give nod to the animated series and graphic novel alike. The voice acting too is top notch as each turtle helms his original persona through the vocal performances of its actors. Raphael is still tough as nails and Leonardo is as methodical as he ever was in the comics. But a coat of paint can’t make up for a decaying foundation and this title is broken right down to its core. 

The Verdict

In the end, Activision and Platinum Games both missed the mark with this licensed misstep. Nothing except the game’s exterior is appealing and it’s mostly a shallow experience. Turtles fans should wait for the next entry in this storied franchise. The level design is repetitive and some stages feel completely vacant with little enemy encounters.  For a true TMNT experience, stick to the original trilogy on the NES and avoid the vanity’s inherent in this broken licensed title. 

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About Anthony Frisina 63 Articles
Anthony Frisina is a graduate of the City University of New York-Brooklyn College with a BA in Political Science with a minor in Psychology. After finishing his undergraduate degree, Anthony went on to attend Brooklyn College's Film Academy and Writer's workshop program, achieving an interdisciplinary degree in Screenwriting and Film theory in the Fine Arts. Transforming his love for classic American cinema, Anthony went on to adapt a number of his own works into different mediums, including his well-received Western novel The Regulator. Anthony likes to spend his free time writing articles for magazines and periodicals that cover a wide range of topics, from science fiction to popular culture. As a screenwriter, Anthony has had his screenplays featured at numerous spec script writing competitions across the country where he one day hopes to write the next great American film.

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