Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has a tumultuous video game history. Some of its early arcade outings back in the 90s were wildly successful, while recent titles have been hit-or-miss with critics. The turtles’ latest game, TMNT: Mutant Madness by Kongregate, is a step in the right direction – although there are still some issues that only diehard fans will be able to overlook.

What is the Mutant Madness?

Mutant Madness is an interesting mash-up of the RPG, gacha, and idle genres. The core experience, however, is centered around growing your roster of characters, leveling them up, and taking them into battle. Before you start each level, you’ll select five heroes from your crew to bring into combat.

The game will display both your team's overall Power Rating and the enemy's Power Rating, giving you a heads-up as to how the battle will likely unfold based on your selections. Combat happens automatically, although you can manually trigger special attacks once they've had enough time to charge. Other than that, battles occur completely on their own.

The more you play, the harder it gets

While the first few hours of Mutant Madness battles are a cakewalk, things start to get more difficult as you press on. And while combat doesn't offer much in the way of strategy, deciding how to level up your crew, does. Each character can be powered up using Ooze, a resource you'll earn as you play the game, and one that can also be farmed using your Lair - Mutant Madness's idle mechanic.

Here, you'll be able to slowly build a massive headquarters that farms resources while you're offline. Deciding how to level up the Lair is a game in-and-of itself, and it’s always fun trying to figure out which upgrade will help out my crew the most. Other notable Lair upgrades include Dimension Clash (PvP), a Clan Hall, and a Battle Pass, giving you plenty of reasons to keep coming back to the world of TMNT.

There are a few ways to level up your crew (such as finding and equipping stronger gear), but I was primarily interested in using Hero Bits to summon powerful new characters. Hero Bits can be generated over time in your Liar but can also be earned through completing different tasks.

Or, you can use real money to buy them as part of a bundle in the TMNT shop. Right away you'll notice fewer heroes available than most other gacha games, but that lack in quantity is offset by their incredible quality. Shredder, Zorax, Splinter, April, and all the turtles are present, along with a laundry list of other iconic characters.

Mutant Madness story

Mutant Madness features a decent story that’s moved along by wonderful comic book style cutscenes. After defeating Shredder in the opening battle, the turtles are getting ready to kick back and relax, until - for some unknown reason - dimensions start collapsing in on themselves. It's up to you and your crew to figure out what's going on and save the universe. The narrative is certainly nothing to write home about, but I still found myself curious as to what would happen next. TMNT Mutant Madness review

TMNT: Mutant Madness graphics

As for the in-game graphics, they aren't nearly as stunning as these scenes – animations in particular leave a lot to be desired. Most characters will cycle through a few stiff attacks while in combat, but incredible particle effects from your special abilities and the large 5v5 battles means there's plenty of action to keep your eyes occupied. It’s far from the best looking title you’ll play on your phone, but it’s serviceable enough to keep you engaged during combat.

Anyone hoping for a nuanced TMNT experience will be disappointed with the content in Mutant Madness. However, if you're looking for a casual game that doesn't require tons of micromanagement, TMNT: Mutant Madness will be a good fit. The Lair helps you make progress while offline, combat is simplistic but entertaining, and there are plenty of powerful characters to collect. And, if you're a TMNT fan, you’ll find even more to love about the latest entry in this storied franchise.

You can download TMNT: Mutant Madness from Google Store and App Store.