Teenage Mu­tant Ninja Tur­tles: Mu­tants In Man­hat­tan

Tonight, Plat­inum’s gonna party like it’s 1989

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This, if you’re of a cer­tain age, is the game of your child­hood dreams: a Teenage Mu­tant Ninja Tur­tles game with comic­book-per­fect vi­su­als and four­player on­line co-op, made by the best ac­tion-game de­vel­oper on the planet. With Trans­form­ers Dev­as­ta­tion, Plat­inumGames proved that it has a knack for blow­ing the cob­webs off age­ing in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty. Now it’s look­ing to re­peat the trick with the pizza-munch­ing, surf-talk­ing rep­tiles that were kings of the world for a spell in the late ’80s and early ’90s, span­ning comics, movies, a car­toon and a highly lu­cra­tive toy line.

“I’m from a slightly older gen­er­a­tion, so I didn’t watch the TMNT car­toon and didn’t re­alise quite how huge the Tur­tles were,” di­rec­tor Eiro Shi­ra­hama tells us. “How­ever, when we were putting the dev team to­gether for the pro­ject I talked to staff mem­bers who grew up with the Ja­panese ver­sion of the car­toon. I was bom­barded with sto­ries about mu­ta­gen and Di­men­sion X – even a case of Leonardo be­ing some­one’s child­hood crush. It was eye-open­ing, to say the least.”

The de­vel­op­ment team is pri­mar­ily com­posed of staff who worked on The Leg­end Of Korra, Plat­inum’s first foray into li­censedgame work for hire (on which Shi­ra­hama was also di­rec­tor), and Trans­form­ers Dev­as­ta­tion. But staff from across Plat­inum have also got in­volved out of love for the source ma­te­rial. On pa­per, it sounds like a no-brainer, an­other way for Plat­inum to re­skin its best-in-class ac­tion-game tem­plate for an­other group of child­hood nos­tal­gists. In re­al­ity, it poses sev­eral chal­lenges to the way Plat­inum ap­proaches mak­ing games. Shi­ra­hama ad­mits the stu­dio has changed tack a lot – “I’m sure we must have caused some mi­graines at

Ac­tivi­sion with our con­stantly chang­ing ideas,” he says – while the team worked out how to make its sin­gle­player ac­tion-game frame­work func­tion in a co-op set­ting.

“Our games tend to fea­ture in­cred­i­bly fast and pow­er­ful char­ac­ters,” Shi­ra­hama says, “so we also need to pro­vide en­e­mies with even more ex­tra­or­di­nary abil­i­ties to make sure there’s a chal­lenge. How­ever, we would tune en­e­mies to pose a solid chal­lenge in sin­gle­player, but in a four­player en­vi­ron­ment, they would be ab­so­lutely tram­pled. You al­most felt sorry for them.

“That was ob­vi­ously detri­men­tal, but we didn’t want to nerf the player-char­ac­ter’s speed or strength ei­ther. So our big­gest chal­lenge was to find a proper bal­ance that worked in both sin­gle- and mul­ti­player. I think we reached a sat­is­fy­ing mix of mob en­e­mies that are fun to beat up and bosses that will test your skills.”

Each of the quar­tet feels slightly dif­fer­ent, their fight­ing style tailored to fit the per­son­al­ity, and spe­cial­ity, of the orig­i­nal char­ac­ters. Leonardo is the katana-wield­ing all-rounder, de­signed for begin­ners. Donatello is meant for ad­vanced play­ers, deal­ing with mul­ti­ple en­e­mies at once with his bo staff. Raphael is slow, but hard hit­ting, while Michelan­gelo steams in, nunchuks blaz­ing. Each char­ac­ter has ac­cess to Ninjutsu spe­cial moves, gov­erned by cooldown times. You’ll also be able to use the en­vi­ron­ment in bat­tle – climb­ing walls, for ex­am­ple.

Plat­inum is also fo­cus­ing on re­playa­bil­ity, con­scious that play­ers will want to play through the game mul­ti­ple times with dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters – an­other step out of its com­fort zone. Yet with Korra, Trans­form­ers and now this, the big­gest chal­lenge fac­ing the stu­dio is stay­ing faith­ful to the source ma­te­rial. The vis­ual style was in­spired by Ma­teus San­tolouco, artist on IDW’s TMNT comics, while IDW writer Tom Waltz has penned the script. But 32 years af­ter the Tur­tles’ comic-store de­but, the stu­dio has an over­whelm­ing amount of ref­er­ence ma­te­rial to call on, and re­main true to.

“TMNT has such a rich his­tory that it was dif­fi­cult for us to fig­ure out what to fo­cus on,” Shi­ra­hama says. “We ended up mix­ing the light-hearted, com­i­cal na­ture of the ’80s and ’90s car­toon with the darker, more se­ri­ous tones of the IDW comics and the 2014 movie.

“One of the most im­por­tant aspects of de­vel­op­ing a li­censed ti­tle is to study and un­der­stand the IP, to make it your own, and to tune the de­sign into some­thing the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion of play­ers will find ap­peal­ing. It’s im­por­tant to cor­rectly iden­tify the el­e­ments that will make fans go, ‘Yes! This is the TMNT game I’ve al­ways wanted!’” From what lit­tle we’ve seen, Plat­inum’s off to a pos­i­tive start by putting ticks in all of the right boxes.

“TMNT has such a rich his­tory that it was dif­fi­cult for us to fig­ure out what to fo­cus on”

The screen­shots re­leased to date sug­gest a game of much greater en­vi­ron­men­tal di­ver­sity than

Trans­form­ers Dev­as­ta­tion, which took place over the same hand­ful of back­drops

As­sum­ing the game fol­lows Plat­inum’s clas­sic struc­ture of rank­ing per­for­mance in each of a sec­tion’s lev­els, this could be the stu­dio’s most re­playable game to date as you seek out Pure Plat­inum medals for all of the four char­ac­ters

Di­rec­tor Eiro Shi­ra­hama

TOP LEFT The sight of a sewer sec­tion re­calls Me­talGear

Ris­ing:Re­vengeance, where a trip below street level re­minded us of the way Plat­inum’s third­per­son cam­era strug­gles in tight spa­ces. With four play­ers on the screen, it will need to be bet­ter than ever.

ABOVE This isn’t Plat­inum’s first foray into on­line mul­ti­player – that ac­co­lade goes to 2012 brawler

An­ar­chy Reigns. Hope­fully the stu­dio has made some im­prove­ments to its net­code in the in­ter­ven­ing years

LEFT Along with Shred­der and Krang, Be­bop and Rock­steady are the most recog­nis­able TMNT vil­lains, a fix­ture in ev­ery form of Tur­tles me­dia since its in­cep­tion. While the pair were ab­sent from the 2014 TMNT movie, they’ll re­turn in this sum­mer’s se­quel

Shi­ra­hama says the tur­tles’ fight­ing styles re­flect their per­son­al­i­ties: “Sense of jus­tice, strength, wis­dom and cheer­ful­ness.” We’re pre­sum­ing the last, a ref­er­ence to Michelan­gelo, was a mis­trans­la­tion of ‘be­ing an­noy­ing’

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