In our last look at Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows we learned how Red Fly Studio plans to bring thirty years of TMNT fans together. That’s no simple task. The TMNT name has been scattered to the wind since shortly after its inception, divided among the many incarnations of the fiction, each with their own differences. There are fans of the comics, fans of the movies and fans of the many animated shows. There’s no right way to appreciate the Turtles, it would seem. But as XBLAFans delved further into the game, guided by Lead Designer Chris Frechette and his passion for Out of the Shadows, we discovered the unifying appeal might be the differences in the turtles themselves.
If there is one universal truth that pumps through the heart of every Turtles fan past, present or future, it would seem to be this: everyone’s got a favorite. The dynamic personalities of each turtle are anchor points to latch onto, letting you identify with a personality that mirrors your own. Individually they hold their own strengths and weaknesses, but together they rely on one another to form a fighting force. Whether you're the intelligent one, the honorable one, the funny one or the tough one, you're represented in the diversity of the heroes in a half-shell. It’s a powerful sentiment that Red Fly Studio aims to leverage in its forthcoming title.
“One thing we wanted to do was not only have their personalities represented in their bodies and their facial animations, but blend that into combat in a way that hasn't been done before,” Frechette says. He’s loaded up the Shadowboxing mode in Out of the Shadows, where players will be able to get a feel for a turtle and his unique combat style. Unlike earlier games in the Turtles saga, Out of the Shadows will incorporate separate fighting disciplines for each turtle, bringing their personalities to life during combat, not just when they’re cracking wise and talking trash.
Leonardo – "The Leader"
“We've got Leo, who’s the leader of the group,” Frechette says. “The easiest to pick up and just kind of roll with.” Yesterday’s Turtles games merely swapped out the weapon and colored bandana to signify a change in turtle, Out of the Shadows ensures each member of the team plays differently. It’s not just style, but attack strength, speed and defense.
“The most balanced of the turtles, you know he does good damage, he’s got solid defense, and his attack cadence is pretty quick.” Leonardo still employs his trademark swords, which Frechette demonstrates by whirling around the practice dojo with slashes and roundhouse kicks. He’s perfect for the player that likes to be able to handle any situation adequately, never excelling or faltering in any one area.
Donatello – "The Brainiac"
Frechette brings out Donatello, the awkward intellectual. “Donnie’s the tallest and he’s kind of lanky, he’s got the gap in the tooth just like in the cartoon, but in more of a realistic take,” he says. “I think he’s my favorite because of the nerd factor.” Wielding the same bo staff for the better part of 30 years, it’s obvious Donatello knows what he’s doing. He’s calculated, precise, delivering sweeping strikes punctuated by calm stances that transform into reaching jabs.
“He’s the slowest of the turtles in combat, but he’s got the most reach,” Frechette continues. “So with his staff, in one of these swinging attacks, you can hit multiple enemies at a time, and that’s pretty cool. So he’s great for composed players, and he’s got kind of a Kung Fu style and flavor to some of his posing and attacks.”
Michelangelo – "The Party Animal"
“So we got Mikey, right?” Frechette says with a smile. “Mikey’s the runt of the group – the smallest – he does the least amount of damage but he’s the fastest so he’s great for button mashers. You know you can just really get your mash on and do some really cool stuff.” Demonstrating, he has Michelangelo whip around the dojo in a nunchuck flurry, delivering quick strikes alongside no-hands-cartwheels and rhythmic spinning legs.
“He’s almost got kind of a Capoeira flow to some of his attacks and some breakdancing elements. Of course, he loves to dance, right? The party dude.” He also represents the juvenile charisma of the original Turtles. Frechette works Mikey into a position where he can deliver a special attack – dazzling a foot soldier with a whirlwind display of whizzing ‘chucks before delivering a cringe-inducing kick to the groin. “Mikey’s got that charm. He’s kicking nuts, he’s got a counter where he burps in their face, you know. Mikey just likes to have fun.”
Raphael – "The Brawler"
“Raph is obviously the hothead, the brute of the group. He’s got the least amount of range, but he can chew through a single enemy faster than anybody else.” Frechette says, piloting the hulking turtle into groups of enemies with zeal. “Raph’s just the big swole guy, he’s got a crack in his shell – he takes it to them.”
Raphael is a monster and sure to be a favorite. He’s raw. A visceral street fighter that mixes the no-nonsense brutality you’d find in today’s UFC with the earth-shattering showmanship of professional wrestling. “His style incorporates a little more of an MMA and Muay Thai kind of feel. He’s got a lot of knees, lots of elbows, some take downs and a little ground-and-pound. Great for aggressive players who can single an enemy out and just stick it to them basically.”
Frechette demonstrates as Raphael secures a full mount on a downed thug. He slides into place, putting leverage on his opponent's arm before slipping it into an Americana. The room erupts with cries and cringes as the thug’s shoulder pops out of its socket with a sickening thwack. Raph quickly transitions to the next thug, grabbing him like a rag doll, ripping him into the air before powerbombing him to the pavement. “I keep saying MMA but he’s just as much WWE as anything else – just bringing it. You’ve never seen Turtles get on you like that.”
We’ll be talking more Turtles all week long as we continue to delve into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows in preparation for its summer release on Xbox Live Arcade.
Disclaimer: All in-game screens captured from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows Announcement Trailer.