It seems like the Ninja Turtles are everywhere in the news today. With the recent announcement of a new animated film co-starring Batman, to another animated film with Netflix, a live-action reboot, the continuing adventures of the Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series, the OG soundtrack is being released this month…sorry, I’m rambling, the point is, is that once again, the Turtles are everywhere and our wallets will soon hate s for it. But it’s interesting to note that things are all quiet when it comes to news about a new video game. To save you some time, there is NO news about an upcoming video game, or even the potential for one. Sure, you’re always going to hear some people swearing up and down that Rocksteady is developing a TMNT game, but no, nobody is working on a Turtles game at all. Sure, there is the occasional ios game, but that’s really about it. Outside of the Mutants in Manhattan game that was released back in 2017 by Platinum Games, there has been little talk about any type of forward momentum regarding a Turtles game.
So let’s take this time to discuss what “needs” to be in a good Turtles game, while keeping in mind that I am not in the video game industry at all and it is pretty pretentious of me to comment on what should be in a game at all. But, with that being said, what would make a good Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video game?
2D or 3D?
This is the big one because I think most Turtles fan that are in their mid-thirties like me have fond memories of playing through the 90’s-era games from Konami (Ultra). These side scrolling beat-em-ups are still fun despite technology leaving them in the dust an making them look and feel antiquated. While I feel that the beat-em-up genre is one of the truly great video game genres that has been taken out and shot in a field, the Turtles have had such an rich history with beat-em-ups between the NES, SNES, Gameboy and the Sega Genesis that seeing a brand new game in the style of the old Konami games would almost instantly get an older generation of gamer in the developers corner. But is this use of nostalgia a crutch? While I’m not advocating an open world type game ala Grand Theft Auto, it would be cool to see the great idea that were presented in Mutants in Manhattan with a budget to back it up. Imagine of the Turtles got to run around in a 3D rendered Manhattan, diving across rooftops to stop the Shredder or barreling down the street in the Turtle van. While I would prefer a side-scroller in the same vein of Streets of Rage or Final Fight, I can’t help but wonder what a Turtles game in the style of the PS4 Spider-Man would be like.
Art: Style or Substance?
As much as I hate to admit it, how a product looks will influence many people (myself included) and be a deciding factor in what they choose to invest their money in. Figuring out the look of a game is incredibly important, especially when trying to create a new product with an established intellectual property. The TMNT have had many, many identities and looks throughout their thirty five year history and to say that some have their favorites is my personal understatement of the year. While many prefer the gritty, black and white art style of the 1984 comic, many people have been introduced to the Turtle via the pop art style of the Rise of the TMNT animated series that premiered last year. The inclusion of the Turtles in last years’ hit fighting game Injustice 2 proved that the influence of the 1990 film hasn’t shown it’s age yet, but people often gloss over the fact that many artists want to put their personal signature on an established design. 2017’s Mutants in Manhattan leaned heavily on the designs of writer/artist Mateus Santolouco, a prolific artist from IDW Publishing and probably the reason I started reading the IDW TMNT comics in the first place. But also, going even further, the art team at Red Fly Studios, the developers of the mildly underrated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, took the Turtles and made them their own by crafting a design that seemingly focused more on realism than anything else. Whatever a developer decides, the look of the Turtles is almost important as any story or gameplay element found within a game. Speaking of story…
The Story needs to be good.
Okay so I cannot stress enough the importance of a good story. I am so tired of hearing about how developers see a good storyline as something that players don’t care about. The theory of how gamers just want big action, microtransactions and pre-order bonuses is getting more and more out of hand as the years go by. While I do believe that Michael Bay-like action set pieces and paid dlc do have their place in gaming, you don’t base your whole development cycle on them. Games deserve respect for being a storytelling medium. I understand that not every game is going to be on the same level of the PS4’s God of War, but it’s time to understand that the Turtles themselves have been about more than pizza time and Cowabunga for a long, long time now. Very recently I read an issue of a Turtles comic book series called Tales of the TMNT. The issue in question, number ten, saw Donatello tracking down a robber and finding out that the criminal in question was a Golem…from Jewish folklore. While I understand that this may not make the best game, the realization that the Turtles are the rare characters in fiction that are truly fluid and can relish in virtually any setting is something that I think more people need to realize. While the Turtles, for me, will always be more of a family comedy than noir fiction (thanks 80’s), I think that the time is right for more people to see the Turtles in a more dynamic fashion. While I’m not asking for Max Payne or Spec Ops: The Line, I do think that a happy medium can be found between the funny and gritty. The grim and the jovial.
So with all of this being said, what should be the next game? Well, I’m glad you asked because I’m going to tell you what the next Turtles game should be, and I’ll even let you know who should develop it…next time.