Does it feel like 1984 in here? Well if not then it definitely feels like 1987. Can anyone wrap their heads around how the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been able to make quite the explosive return to pop culture? I know that we now live in a rather regurgitive pop-culture society, where we’ve run completely out of new ideas, but the Turtles are once again a huge hit. They’re the newest property that Hollywood and the entertainment industry have decided to dredge up so we kids of the 1980s and 1990s can feel a little bit of the nostalgic joy that we cling so tightly to . It allows us to grasp onto those bright years of our childhood, before debt, life, and insurance all got in the way. We’ve seen this happen with Transformers and most recently with Ghostbusters. It looks like our favorite turtles are up to bat, and I really hope they don’t strike out.
I’m not going to get into the movies. They look like utter trash, but I do have to say that Bebop and Rocksteady look pretty cool.
I just want to celebrate the return of my first, favorite cartoon characters. As they are back, and in some ways better than ever. Just take a look at this trailer!
It looks great! Platinum games (Bayonetta/Bayonetta 2) has become the champion of the 1980s retread. Last year they released Transformers: Devastation which was a cell-shaded 80s throwback that felt like playing an episode of the Transformers cartoon. While Transformers did have its issues, mostly in gameplay and environmental diversity, it was a fun 8-10 hour game that I enjoyed. Enter the TMNT, the last bastion of 1980s cartoons, with a game that looks quite impressive! Mutants in Manhattan is giving us an open-world brawler that puts the player in charge of controlling one of the aforementioned Heroes in the Half-shell. Following in the normal Platinum footsteps, the game is going to be very combat heavy and light in the story department. Action and combat looks very fluid and the open-world nature of the trailers could be a great fit for the Turtles. From the visuals and the trailers I have seen, it looks like Mutants in Manhattan is going to emphasize the darker side of the Turtles. While they still have their totally radical cartoon voices, there is definitely a much darker approach that is in line with the original books by Eastman and Laird.
While I’m excited about the return of the Turtles, I’m somewhat skeptical of their return. I know that they have a super-popular children’s cartoon now, but it’s clear that this game isn’t being marketed to those kids. This game, like Transformers: Devastation, is being sold to the 20 and 30 somethings to pull at their nostalgia strings. It’s a move that we’ve seen quite a bit now and it feels like Hollywood and Video Gaming are using tools of reminiscence to get fans excited again. What bugs me is that Platinum could be working on something completely new and different. They’re one of my favorite young developers, and I’d rather see a new IP out of such a talented and youthful team. However, according to Platinum, it’s very difficult for them to create games that are always 100% original. This leads to the Japanese game company taking many projects that are contract jobs. For example, they have been in charge of the next Star Fox game, which releases in April.
Platinum says that these contract games make it easier for them to develop new and original IPs, while still being able to support themselves financially. Unfortunately, they only have complete freedom when it comes to the action segments of the game. Story, theme, and characters are managed by those who own the property. With TMNT: Mutants in Manhattan I hope that we get a game that is fun to play. While my excitement is high for this new Turtles game, it upsets me that there is no local co-op. Platinum said that it would be too difficult to give each player a full experience, as they would have to split the screens. It works in the Lego games and Disney Infinity!? Make it work Platinum! The necessity to play co-op online is frustrating, but it is the trend. Ultimately, it’ll never have the same couch appeal as Turtles in Time.
I want Mutants in Manhattan to be good. I’m growing much more exhausted by the constant rehashing and rebooting that Hollywood and the entertainment industries are employing, but as a gamer all I want are good games. If that means I have to drown in a tepid pool of my own nostalgia, then so be it. Gamers will eventually get fed up, maybe then we’ll see a real return to originality.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan releases on May 24, 2016.