TMNT: Mutant Madness and the weird appeal of gacha games

I wouldn’t call myself overly fond of or a big supporter of shady or aggressive business models in mobile games. These games are riddled with them, especially the free ones, and your enjoyment of a title is usually tempered by how bad the practices are and how much you can ignore or work around them.

One in particular that I’m bumping into a lot these days are games with gacha structures. Gacha is a format where your characters aren’t acquired or leveled up through fighting or questing, but rather opening up an obscene number of random-item packs for tokens inside.

Yet I do keep coming back to these because they do present a very attractive front. The latest mobile diversion that I’ve been enjoying is TMNT: Mutant Madness — an auto-battler with the whole TMNT franchise that is riddled with gacha silliness. You keep throwing your guys into battles, and if they can’t numerically or strategically overcome the opposition, then you sit at that wall until your “lair” in the game generates enough character-growing ooze or you manage to buy more hero packs to tip the odds in your favor.

I always feel that the meta of these games is not my little characters against other little characters, but me against the game developers and their marketing team. I want to beat them literally at their own game by enjoying it without spending any money. And usually there is a path to do that — as there is here — but it’s slower and requires a lot more in the way of delayed gratification and patience. I do appreciate that it’s not as in-your-face annoying with the gacha as these games sometimes are.

Until or unless Mutant Madness gets too frustrating, I can see myself opening it up for a minute here and there. It’s fun. The presentation is slick, and it definitely captures a lot of nostalgia I still harbor for the old ’80s TMNT cartoon. I like shaping a team and picking members that have complementary skills, and since the battles are so quick, it’s no problem to me if they lose. Can’t advance? I’ll just let the game generate free currency while I’m offline, then I’ll spend it later and see if I can clear that next hurdle.

I do see the TMNT franchise as being perfect for this. I forgot how large the cast of characters it has, so it’s already stacked with possibilities. And there’s just a smidge of base building and story to go with it, so it’s not a completely brain-dead experience.

Cowabunga!

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