Highlights G.I. Joe deserves a new game and retro collection that honors the franchise like TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge and TMNT: The Cowabunga Collection. G.I. Joe has been overlooked in terms of recent games, with 2020’s Operation Blackout failing to capture what fans love about the property. A turn-based tactics game similar to XCOM would be a perfect fit for G.I. Joe, allowing players to embrace the unique characters and engage in base management. Transformers: Battlegrounds already proved the viability of cartoon-based tactics games.
Last year’s TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge was a welcome addition to the growing library of modern beat ’em ups, perfectly capturing some of the magic from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ past video game highlights while also paying homage to the 1987 animated series. Not long after its release fans were also gifted with TMNT: The Cowabunga Collection, an anthology of the Heroes in a Halfshell’s video game legacy along with a carefully curated digital museum documenting their history across a multimedia empire. In terms of other popular Saturday morning cartoons deserving of the same treatment, it’s hard to not make a case for a new G.I. Joe game and retro collection that honors the franchise.
While both the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers have had plenty of more recent games that utilize genres fitting of their respective IP and capture what makes each property special, G.I. Joe has unfortunately been left in the cold for the most part. 2020’s poorly received Operation Blackout was the first console game based on the animated version of the Real American Heroes in almost 30 years, and failed to capture what fans love about the property and its characters with generic third-person shooting gameplay. If there’s one genre that’s a perfect fit for the legacy of G.I. Joe, it’s turn-based tactics a-la XCOM.A G.I. Joe XCOM-Like Is a Perfect Match for the IP
When bringing a licensed property into the medium of video games, it’s important to consider how well the IP fits within the confines of the intended gaming genre. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ video game history is looked back on fondly thanks to a plethora of games in the beat ’em up genre — a perfect fit for the turtles given the premise of the IP. Part of the problem with every game based on G.I. Joe since the early nineties is that each of the games is, for the most part, some variety of third-person action and shooting. While this might seem like a great fit for the military-themed franchise, it fails to embrace the most important aspect of the franchise: the unique characters.
In addition to the ill-fated Operation Blackout, 2020 also saw the release of the now-defunct G.I. Joe: War On Cobra, a free-to-play mobile game focused on base building and tower defense. Although the game received mixed reception, it marked the first time that the G.I. Joe property embraced a genre other than third-person shooting. It’s now time for G.I. Joe to get a full turn-based tactics and strategy game, where players engage in base management and development between missions a-la XCOM: Enemy Within and XCOM 2 and each unique character of the Joes and Cobra is represented though being swappable squad members.
There’s actually a precedent for a tactics game featuring the Joes and Cobra, as G.I. Joe’s fellow Hasbro property Transformers already have an XCOM-like tactics game in Transformers: Battlegrounds. Although not nearly as deep as either of the modern Firaxis XCOM titles, Battlegrounds at least understands what many fans hold dear about the Transformers – the various iconic Autobots and Decepticons. Taking control of memorable heroes and villains that each have their own unique attacks and abilities is the digital equivalent of the imaginary battles that many fans played out in their childhood, and it can be a blast to relive those moments.
With another Hasbro property already having their own turn-based tactics game, there’s a strong case for a developer to take a shot at the same genre with the G.I. Joe franchise. Considering that nostalgia is something that many studios are capitalizing on, it’s pertinent to strike while the iron is hot. At the very least, TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge proves that licensed games can be great when developers know what fans love about the IP. And after all, knowing is half the battle.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is available now on Mobile, PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.