The 1980’s saw a lot of the odd and weird. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was an underground comic that sadly was made into a kids cartoon. That really altered people’s perception of the property and was probably the death of the RPG. I found quotes online that suggest the sales of the game plummeted after the cartoon came out yet the supplements kept coming out for many years.
People enjoy the cartoons and movies to various degrees but I always concentrated more on the comic. I never read them all but the general feel and theme is how we did our TMNT games. The most important part of the title that I think got lost in the other mediums is “and Other Strangeness.”
The game does a great job of giving a lot of options for mutant animals. It has an old school method of random determination and that can be part of the fun. Not all the animals are created equally so the random determination helps this. The way the character was mutated also leads to how the character skills and starting equipment are determined. These are randomly generated and some are better than others. There is a large chance of becoming a ninja. That is one of the flaws in the character generation but it had a simple fix for us. There is another Palladium game book called Ninjas and Superspies that has a great variety of hand to hand martial art options. When someone rolled the Ninja option we just had them pick or the GM pick a different style of martial art. This really helped make the characters feel and fight differently.
The comic was darker than the cartoon and that was what really made the game shine. It was built more based on the comic and that was fun. There was plenty of silliness and mutant animal death in our games. Most of the characters were experiments of some organization. Which on the table on happened 40% of the time, but for us it created a much more interesting backstory then accidently walking into some oozy mutagen.
The game of course is not perfect. The combat system can be a mess with when to dodge or parry, the physical prowess attribute being way too powerful as it applies to so much in combat, and all in all just too many dice rolls that slowed the game down. The skill system is not any better. It is a flat percentage system which is not that bad. But there are just way too many skills and many of the additional books just kept adding skills to the game.
Of the additional books I found After the Bomb to be the most useful. It gave us a setting that was filled with conflict and helped explain why there were so many mutant animals around. For character creation it had a better mutant background table and offered a wider variety of options that fit the setting. Pairing that with Road Hogs that explored the western USA in the After the Bomb setting is a must. These books offer some great adventure ideas and lots of little setting pieces.
TMNT is back in the spot light with the new movie in theaters. I have not seen it but anything that gives an excuse to talk about an old game no one probably plays anymore is a good thing. I like the idea of playing it again but the system is very old school and not always in the good way. It is clunky at times so a new system that keeps the randomness of character generation would be great.
Anyone else ever play the game? I don’t know if people would have even kept the books after all this time. Most of the books I have for it now I found at half priced book store recently.