One of my favorite RPG discoveries was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness. Before stumbling upon this game, I had only really been exposed to the 1990 film and the subsequent tv show. For me, this game gave the otherwise cartoony franchise teeth and made them cool, ultimately pushing me toward discovering what would become one of my all-time favorite comic book series. Like most games based on other licensed media, though, it had some flaws.
Palladium’s Megaversal System
I didn’t really like this system very much. It felt heavy in the wrong places and tepid in the others. The system itself wasn’t horrible or anything, it just wasn’t my bag. It was a little too detailed sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I like detailed systems, but only if they get out of the way of the storytelling. I always felt like the Palladium system tried to define the storytelling. I hated that.
Making characters in TMNT was probably the best part of the game. The universe supported so much creativity and variety that wild and insane mutations were still on the table. The game had a huge bestiary to base your mutations off of, not just the classic TMNT staples. It also had a comprehensive list of martial arts and general combat styles to go with the genre. It went into detail in defining the mutation and how traumatic it was, opening the door for some interesting character personality quirks. You really got to create an interesting character that would be at home in that bizarre and somewhat messed-up universe. Unfortunately, character creation was so intense that when you were done, you were kinda burnt out.
It was hard to get people to play.
Getting people to make characters was easy! But playing? Not so much. By the time I was trying to get people to play this, both the TMNT film and television cartoon were popular. Everyone had this cartoony vision of what a TMNT game would be like, but the game was much darker. Fans of the comic had basically already walked away from TMNT because of the direction it was going and the new fans of the franchise were there for something a little lighter.