It’s Time to Get Excited About a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Game Again

PlatinumGames' forthcoming title could prove as brilliant as the arcade classic of yesteryear.

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Jan 26 2016, 8:09pm

Screencap via YouTube

When I was a lad, slurping soda through a straw in the local social club of a Sunday lunchtime, only one thing had my absolute attention: said smoky den's sole arcade cabinet, leant against a wall, almost in the way of the pool table. And for a short period, between RoboCop and whatever came afterwards, it was playing Konami's inimitable multiplayer beat' em up Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles (called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the US).

I remember it like it was yesterday, rather than, shit, 25 years and change. Stage one, fighting the Foot Clan through a burning building, massive bowling balls rolling down stairwells for no good reason, and throwing down with a horny Rocksteady at the level's end. Stage two, out on the streets of New York, dodging manhole covers on the way to a boss battle with the porcine Bebop. Stage three, down in the sewers. I don't think I ever made it past stage three, at least not on the chump change available to a ten-year-old without a paper round.

The game was ported to the NES, which was already home to one outstanding Turtles title, but I was a Sega kid growing up, so my memories are exclusively centered on the arcade original. (And if we had a cracked copy for the family Amiga, it clearly didn't leave an impression.) And those memories are golden. The game was fast and exciting, it resembled the show I knew from the TV, and its visuals were dazzlingly bright.

A couple of great 16bit Turtles games followed, Back from the Sewers and The Manhattan Project, but since the era of the SNES there's been little in the way of recommended interactive adventures for Turtle fans to chew on. Did you play 2013's Out of the Shadows? The game barely worked, for one thing, and even if you could forgive its bugs, it was as much a solid brawler as turtle soup is a sensible sandwich filling. "The Turtles deserve better," was Polygon's says-it-all line on Red Fly Studio's piss-poor attempt at recapturing a little Turtle Power.

But gamers with a soft spot for half-shell-sporting heroes might just have cause to get excited again. The announcement trailer for the new, Activision-published Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan came out a few hours ago—watch it above—and provides us with three main reasons to believe that this will be a revival of the arcade game's all-action excellence.

One, Mutants in Manhattan is being made by Osaka's PlatinumGames, the studio behind contemporary action genre classics Vanquish and Bayonetta. Yes, they put together The Legend of Korra and it was garbage, and the forthcoming Star Fox Zero's looking more than a little shitty; but Platinum delivered the best Transformers video game for over a decade with 2015's Transformers: Devastation, proving that they can match slick gameplay with franchise-respecting fan service. No reason to believe that they can't do the same for the Turtles.

On MUNCHIES: I Ate Illegal Turtle Eggs, and They Were Disgusting

Two, the game would appear to have nothing whatsoever to do with the Turtles movie that's coming out this summer, Out of the Shadows. Which, assuming it's every second as enjoyable as the Michael Bay-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles flick that came out in 2014, will be a Razzies frontrunner come awards season.

Three, look at it. It looks ace, with the same cartoon-style visuals that made Devastation such an aesthetic triumph. I don't know for sure, but I'm going to assume that it's set up for multiplayer, given the scenes where individual Turtles come together for special moves—online play is certainly assured, and you'd hope that's cooperative rather than not. (Also, wouldn't an open-world Manhattan be amazing? I'm not holding my breath, but some of the game's achievements relate to miles traversed.) The frenetic pace of the combat has Platinum written all over it, and the familiar line-up of foes, and more pertinently how they're drawn, suggests that it'll reconnect with the old comic and cartoon rather than more recent live-action characters. That is the Shredder I remember, not this awful mess.

I can't wait, is what I'm saying. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan is released this summer, coinciding with Out of the Shadows. I know where my money's heading, and it's not the multiplex.

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