The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have had their fair share of video game ups-and-downs, but Nickelodeon & Activision now have an opportunity to re-establish the TMNT as video game legends.
While listening to IGN’s “Game Scoop!” Podcast #265 on my jog today, I began to ponder what would it take to make the next great video game. Not only could it embody the open-world stylings of Batman: Arkham City, Assassins Creed, and Skyrim, but it could also incorporate boss battles that play like a fighter; 2 or 3 rounds, broken apart by scene changes and quicktime events, a la DC’s Injustice. The game should include a full-bodied, rich primary storyline but take the time to develop quality side-quests and RPG elements. I then began to think about what franchise could utilize these gameplay elements and, as I normally do, I defaulted to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Nickelodeon’s recent reboot of the beloved franchise is less than 10 episodes in and has already established a slew of villains such as Shredder, The Kraang, Baxter Stockman, and Spider Bytes. Along with this, rumors have recently circulated that Activision will be acting as a “key licensee” of Nickelodeon’s new TMNT franchise. That said, I believe that with Nickelodeon’s successful re-launch of the TMNT, Activision’s big-budget mentality, and an active TMNT community, this can only lend itself to the potential of an incredibly great video game.
I currently run the TMNT fan blog TMNTPartyVan.com and would like to contribute my two-cents in hopes that somebody at Nickelodeon and/or Activision are listening. To preface, I do not have a background in video game design (as any video game designer who reads this may clearly see), however I do actively follow the video game industry and have grown up surrounded by video games. My scope of said TMNT video game may seem unrealistic or it may be extremely simple. Either way I hope you will be able to envision a final product with the following ideas:
In an the open-world of New York City, the player would be able to select and switch between all 4 Turtles. This would open the door for co-op game play (online or local split-screen). If playing solo, 3 Turtles would be controlled by AI, but just as a player can switch between teammates in an NBA or NHL game, the player would be able to toggle between Turtles, utilizing a core group of skills unique to each Turtle. Including leveling and a class skill-tree system, the player would be able to develop each Turtle in a unique manor, however each Turtle would have vastly different skills to develop. Each Turtle could play as a separate class (ie. Leonardo = Tank, Raphael = Rogue, Donatello = Healer, Michelangelo = ???).
Similar to Batman: Arkham City or LEGO Batman 2, the open-world of New York City would include a vast array of missions and story-lines per villain. This open-world would also allow players to explore the large environment, take part in mini-games, and discover collectibles and Easter Eggs. Players would be able to dynamically choose whether they would like to actively pursue the full story or would like to compete for achievements. Mini-games could include Shellraiser races (a la GTA, Brutal Legends, Jack and Daxter), skateboarding (a la Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Kingdom Hearts 2), training (a la GTA: San Andreas, Fight Night), etc.
The combination of an open-world system with villainous nodes and a currently airing episodic television show lend itself to the possibility of Activision releasing free/low-priced downloadable content (DLC) featuring new villains and simple story arcs to keep the game fresh. To continue the momentum of the television show, these mini-addons could be delivered after the current week’s Nickelodeon episode. This would offer players an incentive to pick up the game after the primary story has been completed.
Turtles in Time is arguably one of the greatest arcade beat-em-ups of all time. However, in a world of massive AAA titles (and the industry’s seemingly deep pockets and ROI interests), a beat-em-up seems a little out of place in the video world of today. Aside from the incredible Anamanaguchi soundtrack, there was a reason the Scott Pilgrim Video Game didn’t hold my attention after the glitch level. Most of us have moved on from the arcade beat-em-up genre… or have we?
I would argue that Batman: Arkham Asylum redefined the beat-em-up. For this reason, I became ecstatic to learn of the rumor that Rocksteady, developers of Batman: Arkham Asylum/City, would be developing the new TMNT game. While this rumor was shot down by Rocksteady, I (as well as countless others) were excited about the potential of another great TMNT game! This was in large part was due to Rocksteady’s extremely fluid fighting mechanics and taste for narrative and emersion that allowed players to feel like Batman. I couldn’t help but to imagine a TMNT game with the same elements. Random street battles could include fighting The Foot, the Kraang, and/or random street punks. Changes in the plot could not only include spontaneous events but also be triggered by returning to the sewers to heed advice and training from Splinter before advancing in the game or opening more of the map.
The inclusion of the current voice cast is a no brainer. Rob Paulsen (Donnie), Jason Biggs (Leo), Sean Astin (Raph), and Greg Cipes (Mikey) would ensure that the video game versions of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would be brought to life. I imagine the Turtles to be bantering back and forth while roaming the city in search of their next objective or simply joking around when idle. I would also expect the same amount of humor and wit that is included in the new reboot to be showcased throughout the game, playing homage to the older TMNT video games, movies, and/or cartoons.
With all of these aspects combined, Activision will have created a game not only enticing to children but also to those adult gamers who grew up with the original cartoon and games. Nickelodeon has put a lot of time, effort, and money into rebooting the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and I would expect them to do no less with a new video game.