For all of the nostalgia and entertainment the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are known for, Mutants in Manhattan does a great job of serving up some of the best sequences in the franchise’s history. Platinum’s attempt falls a bit short on the cowabunga-meter but that does not mean it’s a terrible game or experience.
Similar to the Konami classic, Turtles in Time, Mutants in Manhattan is a trip down comic book lane. All of the classic villains such as Bebop and Rocksteady are there as Shredder and Krang attempt to take over the entire world. For players, like myself, who might have had a brush with these characters in the cartoons or comic books it is genuinely easy to get immersed in Manhattan’s cell-shaded environments.
The characters, environments, and all of the action seems as if they came straight out of the comic books and cartoons. This is a good thing because even when the game becomes repetitive – it does real quickly – players can sit back to enjoy the nostalgia trip. For me, Platinum’s Mutants in Manhattan feels like my old toys were brought back through time and given to me for one last play-time session but within the realm of a third-person Beat’em up.
The story and dialogue in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan are very entertaining. Platinum Games did a fantastic job of capturing the mood, dialogue, and the boss encounters which enable for some great moments. What was puzzling during my time with the game was Splinter and April O’Neil’s involvement. They were practically reduced to annoying, stagnant roles that only hindered the game’s story. My feeling was that their roles should have been increased because the Turtles, especially in the current animated series on Nickelodeon, have better support from these two characters.
Since this game was developed by Platinum Games, I expected there to be a frenzied fight with enemies coming at me from any direction. Without a doubt, I received just that because there was never a lackluster moment in Mutants in Manhattan.
While performing combos with any of the 4 turtles, I was able to switch to another turtle (using right on the D-Pad) in order to continue the chain. This often lead to even bigger chains that lead to team attacks which could be initiated by pressing the left trigger and X button. My main issue with the combat system was the countering that could be performed.
During the combat sequences enemies attempt to attack but can be countered by using the right trigger. Pressing the right trigger at the right time could cause the player-controlled turtle to either parry, go behind the enemy, or perform a counter attack. This was frustrating because I was never able to do this during the campaign which made me feel like a novice. Regardless of this issue, I was still able to perform complexed combos during the game’s 2 hour campaign.
The most entertaining element to Mutants in Manhattan was the boss encounters. The encounters tasked all four of the turtles to feverishly pummel each boss – which has several health bars – until the fight is over. The time it takes to finish an encounter isn’t really long (30-40 minutes) and that is a good thing because there are secret bosses that could appear at during a fight (Ex. Armaggon appeared during my encounter with Slash). The randomization of these characters entering a fight was a smart addition on the part of Platinum Games because it drastically changed the approach my friends and I would take.
One major issue that I had during the campaign’s intense fight sequences was that I would sometimes lose track of where the enemies would be. This would cause me to miss an attack or misuse a defensive item such a missile turret. Maybe this issue can be corrected in future Ninja Turtles titles because it could even be a larger problem on the higher difficulty settings.
There is nothing that is out of the ordinary here as it is a standard Beat’em up game by Platinum Games. Moving from rooftop to rooftop, going into the sewers, and moving through the streets were as amazing as they could be. The controls for Mutants in Manhattan are standard as with all brawler-type games (A Jumps, X attacks, and Y heavy attacks) but it would be worth noting that each turtle has their own distinct two button combinations. Since I exclusively played with Michelangelo I was not able to experience all the moves for myself aside from Mikey’s roundhouse kicks as well as his cyclone nunchaku attack. Two button combination attacks can be accessed by pressing either Y+B or X+Y in order to perform the moves.
The game gave me a break from the lack of variety by implementing mech-based combat during one of the later levels – won’t give it away – but by then it was too late because I was closing in on the final level and did not have enough time with the mech to even care that I was using it in the first place.
Throughout the game, I was able to upgrade my character as well as the items that I used for the loadout. Items in the loadout are able to be upgraded by going into the item list, highlighting the items, and then pressing the X button (pending you have enough materials). This feature could have been flushed out more thoroughly on the part of Platinum Games because it was so thin in terms of variety and individuality – loadouts are shared between each of the 4 turtles.
What this means is that if I upgrade my Healing Circle to max level with Michelangelo, I can easily switch that item to the other turtle’s loadout (Ex. I recently gave Raphael the max level combo attack that was equipped on Michelangelo). This is not a downside as it cuts down on time but I would rather the Ninja Turtles have their own upgrades – similar to their own personalities. Charms grant special abilities (Ex. Auto Heal and Strength Increase) and are also shared in the same manner as the abilities, which causes the game to dig itself a deeper hole.
Sound of Music
The sound in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan was nothing short of nostalgia. For every sword swipe and nunchaku swing, I would be whisked away into a land that I grew up in. The voices for each turtle fit their in-game counterparts really well which is not an easy task for an established franchise such as the Ninja Turtles. Platinum Games really showed that they can handle games that have an established fan base and I would hope that they are able to get their hands on another franchise in the future (Final Fight, anyone?).
The soundtrack in this game was amazing because it fit within the context of each stage. There was no point in the game where I felt the music did not feel right. My only issue with the score was that Platinum Games should have added more Ninja Turtles style music rather than use the metal score that they are known to have in their games. In my opinion, it would have been nice to have the old 1980’s cartoon theme in the final stage… maybe next time.
Aside from playing Mutants in Manhattan in single player – 3 A.I. controlled turtles following you at all times – there is an option to play with your friends. However, that option lays squarely on you to have friends online because there is no local-coop. That’s right… there is no way to play locally in this game. It is a real downside to this game but given that there would be a 4-player split screen and potential frame rate issues, I am somewhat glad they did not include the option for this feature. When playing with your friends online, the game offers little variety in regards to the gameplay in general. It is nice, however, to coordinate your team attacks with your friends during a boss encounter but even that has little incentive and can be repetitive.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan is a mixed bag of tricks. Its nostalgic characters, graphics, and simple controls are overshadowed by the glaring issues that the game possesses. As a fan of the Ninja Turtles, I was happy to take a trip down memory lane but with the lack of variety accompanied by a thin RPG system, it will be hard to revisit this game without a friend or two. Needless to say, the game was a fun experience to share with a group of friends… I just wish that Platinum Games could have found a way to incorporate local-coop without the technical problems. The combination of issues in addition to what I feel are some of the best sequences of the franchise’s history make this game fun and enjoyable for fans of the Ninja Turtles but may turn away fans of Platinum’s more popular games in their catalog. Hopefully, in the next game ideas and features that are presented in Mutants in Manhattan can hold more meaning as well as add more variety.
|+ Nostalgic characters||– No Local Coop|
|+ Simple controls||– Lack of Variety|
|+ Cell-shaded Graphics||– Thin RPG Upgrade system|
|+ Boss Encounters|