TMNT: Mutant Madness Review: I Love Being a Turtle

The year was 1991. My mom had popped in the VHS. It opened with an advertisement involving a bunch of kids playing baseball and running off to eat Pizza Hut that immediately drew me in. Then: mysterious ninjas living in the sewers of New York City wearing colored eye masks... What was this strange movie? What followed would inspire a four-year-old me to embrace turtle power for decades to come. These nunchuck-wielding, pepperoni pizza-eating, heroes in a half-shell that aren't yet legally able to drink have entertained kids and adults alike and remain a popular franchise. Naturally, I was eager to see if TMNT: Mutant Madness lives up to the lore and nostalgia that these ninja masters are known for.
TMNT: Mutant Madness was initially released in 2020 and has gotten a lot of positive feedback. Developed by Kongregate and produced by Nickelodeon Studios, this RPG is well-suited for all ages and gamer experience levels. When starting the game, I was immediately impressed by the visuals. There are a lot of renditions of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, from live-action to CGI. The cartoonish animations of TMNT: Mutant Madness reminded me most of the animated series of the nineties, with vibrant colors and exaggerated features painted on the turtles themselves.
Another remarkable visual flourish of the game is the comic book animations that propel the story. There's not much narrative before you start beating Foot Clan lackeys to a pulp. Essentially, our heroes are relaxing with their favorite food, pizza, when the evil Shredder crashes the party. They’re thrust into another dimension, and the action begins. The story may not add up to much, but the original artwork made me feel like that four-year-old, parked in front of the TV to watch the TMNT cartoon all over again.
TMNT: Mutant Madness drives home that sense of nostalgia by drawing its cast of playable characters from a wide collection of fan favorites, such as Casey Jones, Bebop, Rocksteady, and April O' Neil. The game allows you to mix and match your squad, which I found particularly fun. Not only was I able to play as the titular turtles, but I was also able to assemble different crews of five, even including villains like Tokka and Shredder.
The variety of characters isn’t just for show either. Each fighter plays differently, and each has a unique special attack with entertaining combat animations. For example, Super Irma’s Magnetize ability deals explosive damage across a huge area, while Leonardo’s Rallying Charge lets him hack away at enemies with his dual swords.
These tangible differences added incentive for me to unlock new heroes. Growing a bigger roster felt important, as finding the proper mix of characters was necessary to strategize against enemy crews. For example, Super Irma is a ranged character, so it was important I put her in the back row so she took less damage. With Splinter's support, any characters near death were healed, so I always ensured he was in my squad. A pretty detailed game mechanic that made me think of the best characters for the battle.
TMNT: Mutant Madness mirrors your typical RPG from a gameplay perspective. After defeating enemy squads, you collect items such as scraps and ooze to level your character or buy more heroes. One unique aspect of the game is the ability to build up your lair. You can purchase upgrades like the ooze refinery, which produces ooze at a defined hourly rate, even if you're not playing.
While that regular boost of ooze can be handy, it also led to one of my few criticisms of TMNT: Mutant Madness. A lot of the game felt automatic and didn't require much of my own input. In fact, as with many similar team-building mobile RPGs, I could literally just hit the “auto” button, and the characters would take care of combat, including using their special abilities, while I just sat back and watched the battle play out. Even the manual options within battle felt limited. The game isn’t terribly challenging either—you can start the next match with full health as long as one character survived the previous round. If you thought our heroes in a half shell would rely on pizza power-ups to keep in shape, think again.
TMNT: Mutant Madness sticks players on a strictly linear path, with no option to go back and battle defeated enemies. Coming across an enemy crew stronger than my squad was inevitable, and although the game is quite generous with rewards, I had no option but to wait until I generated enough resources to level my characters. Alternatively, I could choose to watch ads or use some hard-earned real-life money to buy in-game bonuses to speed up progress. But these roadblocks were definitely annoying when all I wanted to do was ninja kick my opponents.
Speaking of opponents, I wish the enemies I was up against in TMNT: Mutant Madness would have been a bit less repetitive. I must have faced a million Mousers, tiny bipedal robots, and just as I was prepared to move on to something new, those mechanical menaces reappeared as bosses. That’s right... From regular enemies to bosses, but completely interchangeable otherwise!
Despite these criticisms, the simple user interface, the wide array of characters, and the artwork in TMNT: Mutant Madness hooked me. It's easy to sink a few hours into this game or play a few quick battles while traveling on the subway. I've always been a fan of this fearsome fighting team, and TMNT: Mutant Madness made me shout cowabunga!
•Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The franchise spans movies, comic books, toys, clothes, and now mobile devices! If you're a fan of the turtles, then check this out.
•Anthropomorphic do-gooders. Think Sonic the Hedgehog, Crash Bandicoot, and Donkey Kong. This franchise is for you if you get a kick out of animals saving the day.
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