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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

teenage-mutant-ninja-turtlesTake control of your favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle in this classic beat-em-up. Use cursor keys and C + D to fight increasingly tough stop-motion baddies photographed from the real toys.

Postmortem:

The Street Fighter 2 games and their endless series of sequels have long been favorites of mine. There’s something about the feel and the flow that is just right in those games. Skill really plays a part, which I just haven’t found to be the case in a lot of Street Fighter’s competitors. So, when we decided to build a beat-em-up for the new Turtles movie (which is frighteningly bad by the way, don’t bother watching it if at all possible), I was quite excited.

The timeframe for this game was a little over a week – 6 or 7 days of code work alongside a day or so of photographing the characters in absurd ninja poses. It turned out an illness shot around the office for most of that week too. I don’t get ill a lot, but this particular bug hit me hard and I distinctly remember coding away at the game with my head slumped on the desk just in front of the keyboard, peering up at the screen to see what I’d typed! It’s a minor miracle that the game even got finished, let alone was a half-competent fighting game.

I was determined to get a lot of my favorite parts from the Street Fighter games into this, and for the most part I think, managed it. I wanted all the moves to be different from character to character (achieved). I wanted special moves based on quick performance of key-combos (achieved). I wanted freeform hit-combos against the opposing player (achieved). I wanted the AI player to put up a decent fight (achieved), and to be able to play to the character’s strengths in set-combos (achieved). I wanted it to play fairly, so the computer had its own set of virtual controls that it pressed and clicked just as if it were a human player (achieved).

In fact, that last feature means that with a bit of code hacking, you could play as any character, and the computer could play as any character. You could arrange for computer-Vs-computer battles too, which were fun. That and a high framerate actually made for an excellent character ballancing tool – I ran lots of computer-Vs-computer battles to test out the various pairings, as well as playing lots of the combinations too.

We hit upon the idea to use the real plastic figures, and play the game out as if it were literally a fight between the toys themselves. This works fairly well, but took a lot of work to take the photographs and process them into usable graphics. Also, the range of movement of some of the toys’ limbs left a lot to be desired. The turtles themselves are largely OK, but the baddies are mixed quality at best! The lady fighter in particular looks gangly and strange in a lot of her moves. I’d have liked more animation frames too, but we just didn’t have time to prepare all the extra graphics we’d have needed.

The game was widely played, and received mixed ratings. Lots of people ‘got’ it, saw how it was similar to Street Fighter and enjoyed it. Lots more were used to the more button-bashing type of fighting game, and didn’t like it at all. That’s fair comment really – and represents a failing of the game to lead them into the right techniques and strategies. Perhaps more of a training mode than it ended up with would have been helpful here.

Lessons:

  • Aim high, and you might just hit!
  • Don’t be scared of taking on a daunting challenge if you’re determined enough to see it through
  • You can’t please everyone all the time

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