Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Splintered Fate
Image: Super Evil Megacorp

TMNT fans were eating well back in 2023. Shredder's Revenge landed a totally tubular DLC, Mutant Mayhem was one of the franchise's best films in decades, and completely out of the blue Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Splintered Fate popped out of its shell on Apple Arcade.

This roguelike from developer Super Evil Megacorp took the combat-first focus of the Turtles video games that we all knew so well and shaped it into a gameplay loop that the franchise had rarely touched. It bore all the hallmarks of Hades with its difficulty curve, approach to action, and progression system, but with the heroes in a half-shell standing in the place of Supergiant's Greek gods.

It all looked rather peachy. But, appearing solely on Apple Arcade, the game was never going to pull in console gamers like Shredder's Revenge or Konami's Cowabunga Collection. That is until it appeared at the April 2024 Indie World Showcase. After a year of mobile exclusivity, Splintered Fate is finally making the jump over to Switch on 17th July.

To find out a little more about the project, we recently sat down with Super Evil Megacorp's Director of Product Management, Tom Westall, to talk about all things Turtles. During our chat, we covered the team's roguelike inspirations, what it was like working with TMNT legend Tom Waltz, and (the most important question of all) who's the best Turtle...

Nintendo Life: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have starred in many games over the years, but never a roguelike. Why did you decide to move the Turtles into this genre?

Tom Westall, Super Evil Megacorp: Our mission at Super Evil Megacorp is to build the best shared gaming moments in the world. We were playing other successful roguelike titles and thinking to ourselves how great they would be if we could play together in co-op. We locked onto the idea of a four-player co-op top-down roguelike pretty quickly and then started throwing around new concepts. Once someone mentioned TMNT, we knew that was the game we wanted to make. We have grown up loving TMNT with games like Turtles in Time and, more recently, Shredder’s Revenge, but they mostly have a similar flow and focus to the Brawler genre. The thought of bringing the Turtles to a new genre really excited and energised the whole team as an opportunity to pioneer something new with the IP.

As we explored systems and design ideas, it became clear to us how perfectly suited TMNT was to a roguelike game. It really allowed us to bring out the unique personalities of each Turtle through the narrative and their in-game fighting styles brought a great variety of play.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Splintered Fate
Image: Super Evil Megacorp

We can see a lot of Hades inspiration in Splintered Fate. Was this a specific touchstone during development and are there any other roguelikes you looked at in the process?

Any comparison to a game as incredible as Hades is a wonderful compliment, thank you! Hades in particular further opened our eyes to how roguelikes can tell epic stories that evolve over time and is considered a masterpiece by many for this reason. In particular, we felt we could bring our background in social gaming to see how we could innovate in this space.

prepare to be surprised with each run and be sure to play as all the Turtles

There are lots of huge roguelike fans at the company and we were definitely inspired by playing them. Games like Dead Cells and Slay the Spire changed the way many of us think about how many years and hours a roguelike can remain engaging.

Another title that really inspired us was Children of Morta. This was a game all about family, something the TMNT franchise has always prioritised above all else. We think Splintered Fate is a great addition to the genre, with many familiar systems but also innovations in the co-op space that fans are going to really enjoy.

The roguelike genre has grown so much on Switch, how does Splintered Fate stand out from the crowd?

Co-op! And of course the IP and being able to play the first TMNT roguelike. This game is so much fun when played with others. It became very obvious to us when we announced this game for Switch that players wanted one thing above all else - playing together. There is definitely something extraordinary about playing games together, our studio goal is to build the best-shared gaming moments, so our mission was clear to ensure Splintered Fate was an amazing co-op experience. The team worked incredibly hard to deliver an experience we are really proud of (with a surprise still to be announced)! Having tested it with a few of our friends and family, we are really excited to share the co-op experience with the world.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Splintered Fate
Image: Super Evil Megacorp

A run-based game like this naturally requires a lot of repetition. How have you ensured that the gameplay loop doesn’t become tiresome?

Lots of content, random encounters and a few surprises! It really helped us that the TMNT universe is great source filled with tons of material that let us add lots of little surprises throughout the game.

We made over 100 Turtle Powers, and players will only be able to collect a few on each run as they create their builds. It was important to us that we designed several ways to combine these powers into interesting builds for players to discover and we’re sure they will find ones we’ve not even thought of.

We also have a system of progression that encourages you to play each Turtle but that benefits all characters. This incentivises players to play all four brothers to unlock everything and become the ultimate ninja Turtle.

Every Turtle brings a different style and toolkit to the battle

It’s not just progression, though, where there is lots of choice and variety. We also built multiple variants of each boss fight and loads of mini-boss encounters so you really don’t know what you’ll be up against each run. As you progress through the game, we also added the option for players to take on hard versions of the boss and mini-boss fights called 'Gauntlet Challenges' and take special portals that increase your rewards but add a new challenge to the run, like halving all healing you receive!

If that’s not enough, we have thousands of lines of narrative that tell the story or just add fun and flavour as you play. In short, prepare to be surprised with each run and be sure to play as all the Turtles!

How did you approach the game’s difficulty curve?

We played a lot! We wanted to make a challenging experience for players to enjoy while supporting a deep progression system. If you are finding a particular challenge too difficult, levelling up some of your skills should help get past it. Equally, if you are finding the game a bit easy, there are many ways to increase the difficulty as you progress. Only one person in the team has completed the game on the hardest setting that I am aware of.

We knew that some players love challenges while others want to enjoy the narrative. With this in mind, we also built a 'Story Mode'. In this mode, the difficulty is significantly reduced to let you enjoy the game at a more relaxed pace. Everyone has different skill levels and time available, so giving players this choice felt like the best solution.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Splintered Fate
Image: Super Evil Megacorp

Many of the most renowned TMNT games have given each Turtle a different play style. How important was it for you to make each character feel unique?

Essential. The Turtles have very diverse personalities and combat styles, which is part of what makes the franchise loved by so many. We leaned into this to create a mix of playstyles, both for variety and to be faithful to the source material.

For example, Raph is a powerful brawler. He can hookshot a group of enemies to pull them in close and then unleash his rage to hit them with a barrage of critical hits. Mikey, meanwhile, is the opposite. With his relaxed personality, his focus is on hitting multiple enemies in a wide area.

Every Turtle brings a different style and toolkit to the battle, as well as their own affinities with Turtle Powers, altering the odds of which power type you’ll see each run.

Can you talk a bit about the Splintered Fate character design? What TMNT media were you looking at when designing the character models and environments?

It’s TMNT’s 40th anniversary this year so there was a lot of source material available. Lots of us had grown up watching various iterations of the cartoon, from the 1987 original to the latest shows. As you play through the game you’ll certainly see little easter eggs referencing some of our favorite moments. We also drew heavily from the comics and loved reading the more recent releases, including those written by Tom Waltz who co-wrote the story of Splintered Fate. TMNT Splintered Fate is ultimately Super Evil Megacorp’s take on the franchise and we hope our passion comes through in the character design.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Splintered Fate
Image: Super Evil Megacorp

What was it like working with Tom Waltz on an original Turtles story?

The best collaborations are always the ones where you get excited about each other's ideas and build on top of them. That's exactly what working with Tom has been like. He is a legend and we have been privileged to be able to work with him throughout our Splintered Fate journey both on the game and the tie-in comics. Tom has such a deep knowledge of TMNT and has helped us craft an original story that is authentic to the IP while also offering a new adventure for fans. We have also worked closely with Tom to ensure TMNT is littered with great easter eggs and secrets which we hope fans will have a lot of fun finding.

Were there any challenges you found with bringing the game to Switch?

I’m really attached to all four brothers now and love each of them as individuals

We have our own proprietary game engine (the EVIL Engine) at SEMC. This allows us to create truly unique experiences for all devices. One of our most exciting challenges for Splintered Fate on Switch was making sure we played to the console’s strengths. We hadn’t originally planned on building a certain feature for launch, but once we saw the demand we knew we had to (stay tuned for more info coming soon!). This did bring a whole load of challenges, both technical and design..

Making this game shine was also important to us, so we carried out a full lighting and audio pass and reworked the UI to make it sing on the Switch. We are super proud of the result and believe Switch fans will love the experience.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Splintered Fate
Image: Super Evil Megacorp

Finally, the biggest question of all: Who is your favourite Turtle, and did it change while working on Splintered Fate?

A few years ago I would have said Donnie, but now this is like asking me to choose between my children! I’m really attached to all four brothers now and love each of them as individuals, but, of course, together they are always at their most powerful. If I really had to pick, I think Mikey’s innocence and ability to find joy when all hope seems lost probably draws me most to him. That said, Raph is my most played.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

Thanks to Tom at Super Evil Megacorp for taking the time to answer our questions, and to Barzeli and Monique at fortyseven for helping to set it up. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Splintered Fate will launch on the Switch eShop on 17th July.