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The Next Ninja Turtles Game

In late February 2018, Injustice 2 released its third pack of character DLC. I’m sure plenty of people were excited to play as Enchantress or the Atom, but most people weren’t expecting to be as shell shocked as they were. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles finally made a return to video game consoles. All four brothers are now playable alongside Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and other staples of the DC Universe. And the world, for a moment, was happy.

We were finally given the Ninja Turtles in a form finally fitting of the current generation of platforms. Studios have tried bringing our favorite brothers back a few times, but they were always a bit lackluster. 2016 gave us “Turtles in Manhattan,” which was fun, but definitely wasn’t the game we wanted. We got “Turtles in Time – Reshelled” which was a great trip down memory lane. But as of the time of this writing, the license has expired and is unavailable for purchase. There are mobile games and games based on the latest movies and cartoons, but the gap has been glaring at fans of the turtles since, arguably, Tournament Fighters in 1993.

The announcement gave fans more than playable characters in a fighting game. It gave us hope. And a healthy dose of internet speculation. The turtles have been crossing over to the DC universe a lot lately, and the connection to Batman, specifically, has fans waiting for the next announcement.

Batman has gotten a fair shake at the current gen of console and PC games in recent years. In addition to the Injustice series, we’ve been able to be the Batman. We started by battling the rogues gallery and thugs in Arkham Asylum. Continuing to glide across rooftops in the expanded Arkham City. Finally zipping the Batmobile across Gotham, concluding the trilogy with Arkham Knight. Telltale studios recently gave us a look at a first person perspective with Batman VR. All these games have given hardcore Bat-Fans an onslaught of Easter eggs and a fluid combat system to please even the snobbiest gamers. Rocksteady games allowed us to be Batman and experience Gotham City.

Injustice 2 isn’t the first time the brothers have met the Batman. In 2015 the Ninja Turtles joined forces with the caped crusader for a mini series that was so well received, they continued it with Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2. It’s a great series that has given us the gift of Bebop and Rocksteady hopped up on Bane Venom.

It’s cool, but why does it matter?

All this really means is the license holders (Nickelodeon) are open to lending out their characters for other endeavors.

The Ninja turtles being lent out to Warner Bros. for the game could be a neat gift to longtime fans of the franchise. This could be all we get! But based on the reactions online, this could have been a test.

 

If this DLC pack sold well, would it open the doors to future appearances? Rocksteady studios parent company Warner Bros. owns DC comics. Maybe these recent collaborations in comics and games could have been testing the waters for an all out 5-star game featuring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It would make sense to test out the waters with a DLC pack before investing years in on a bit of a risky endeavor. Remember, the turtles haven’t had a truly successful original game since 1993. Of course Rocksteady studios has been silent about what they’re doing next. Troy Baker (Voice actor on the Batman games and most of your favorite things) has said it won’t be Batman. The only information we have is this tweet, from their Mo-Cap studios. 

We probably won’t have any official news until E3 later this summer.

Rocksteady could make the first full Ninja Turtles game worth of the current generation of consoles. I think it’s time we get an open world sandbox game. They could take a lot of gameplay aspects from the Arkham series and transfer it over with new legs. They mastered the 1 vs all combat style and could transfer the same overall style to the turtles. Being able to swap characters part-way through battle kept the games fresh and fighting never got stale. We don’t want to play as 1 turtle. We want to play as all the turtles.

This is a great opportunity to bring couch co-op back to the turtles. Being able to play with a friend next to you (or online) could bring teamwork that the brothers always display. Ninja Turtles fans want a hack slash game, but we’ve progressed past “Press A to punch.” We want weapons. We want combos. We want special team up abilities.

The world is rich. Being able to run and flip  around the city and up buildings is hugely important. But that’s the major difference in the turtles series and most other open world sandbox games have yet to explore. The sewers. Adding an intricate sewer system to explore gives players a sense that this is the turtles universe. It’s a crucial, often overlooked aspect of the turtle lives we need to see in the game. It needs to be underground. And when we do go above ground, it needs to feel like Manhattan. The turtles live in the city and have since their original form. It seems to be the ONLY constant in the series! This also leads to a world as giant as the TCRI building, or as inconspicuous as Casey’s Dad’s house.  I wonder what happens when we stand over a sewer grate at 122 and an 1/8th.

Something I really hope Rocksteady brings over from the Arkham games is the mass amount of Easter eggs in the series. No one ever expected to see Calendar Man in a Batman game, let alone getting an achievement for talking to him on major holidays. That’s what I want.

The turtles haven’t been around as long as Batman, but it has a deep roster of relative unknowns. Imagine the joy you’d feel running down a building, chasing the foot clan into a firehouse when, suddenly, Hot Spot appears to douse all the Foot Clan with a fire hose. Or Manta Ray swimming in the East River. Add special skins that add the Mirage style duo shading we all love. If I could run through the streets of New York as Raphael with the strange Mirage cross-hatching, I’d be the first person recorded to die of nostalgia.

The city should be littered with references to past iterations. Kevin Eastman artwork needs to be plentiful throughout the city. On billboards and logos. I want to cruise around New York City sewers driving the Turtle Van! And it should never ignore past iterations of the turtles.

Give us a bonus world where we transport to Dimension X. Trigger a cut-scene where we transport back to a pirate ship. Something as simple as the Foot Soldiers being colored like in “Turtles in Time” is such a simple touch, but lets the fans know that the game was handled by people who also love the characters. You should be able to get around the city by running up buildings and ninja flipping your way to secret areas and hidden characters. We need Triceratons! 

Photo from nick.com
Please can we play against the Triceratons? PLEASE!?!

As much as it should honor the past, the game needs to be its own entity. I don’t want it to resemble the old black and white comic. It can’t be the 90’s we all love. It can’t be the 2012 or from any movie. The game needs to exist as its own entity.  The designs used for Injustice 2 look really good, but could use a bit more personality. It absolutely needs to skew to a more adult audience. It should return to the comic books, but only in tone. If you narrow it to a certain style, you alienate a generation of fans, and this game needs to be a celebration of everything about the turtles to date.

The story on the other hand, should be pulled directly from the comics. “City at War.” The story could lend itself to a world occupied by elite Foot Clan and mousers creating mayhem in the city. The overall arc could lend itself well to the game, where after the defeat of Shredder, Karai takes the loyal foot clan and vow to destroy the city.

Specifics can definitely change as you encounter new characters along the way. As much as the characters and design should stand alone, the main story should have a direct influence from turtle lore. It could even be an interesting title to let old school fans know that this is a game for them.

The rumblings of Rocksteady Games giving the world a great game have been happening for a few months. Hopefully at this summer’s E3, we see if the rumors are true. This is a game that has a built in fanbase. We would buy the deluxe edition with the special edition statue and bonus features. And if the game is good, new fans will be created that don’t know how deep the turtle lore goes.  With any luck, we won’t suffer an underwater level with electrified seaweed.

Have mercy
Please. Oh god. Please not this.

 

The Author

Kyle Tobey

Kyle Tobey

Currently lives in NYC with his fiancee and 2 tiny fur creatures. Performs and studies comedy at UCB Theatre. Also loves comics, Star Wars, and pizza. Slept on Ninja Turtles sheets as a kid. Advocate for weirdos.

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