We’ve been talking all week about the turtles’ return to game form and the specifics of Red Fly Studio’s plan to unchain your inner turtle. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is trying to do a lot of interesting things. It’s attempting to merge the original spirit of the fiction with the appeal and accessibility of the new animated series. It’s injecting personality into the titular characters, not just in their dialogue, but their combat styles and mannerisms. It’s building a fighting scheme that’s trying to marry fast and fluid with balance and intuition and imbue elements of control and variety more closely at home in a fighting game than a brawler. It’s attempting to do all of this, but at the end of the day, it’s still a game – so let’s talk about gamification.
If Out of the Shadows excels anywhere, it’s in going the extra mile to incorporate all those little pieces of Turtles fiction that really drives home the experience. The game’s main menu structure, which could have been a series of colored rectangles: Campaign, Mission, Extras – has been smartly incorporated into the turtles’ interactive underground headquarters. You’ll roam the halls and visit the many facilities, each one with a unique purpose, as Frechette explains.
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.
“I was a huge fan as a kid. I had the toys, watched the movies, memorized the soundtracks,” says Chris Frechette of Red Fly Studio, Lead Designer on the next chapter of the Turtles’ (TMNT) tale. He’s seated at the other end of a small demo room littered with consoles, peripherals and colorful cushions. To his right sits Shaun Norton, Public Relations Director at Sandbox Strategies, who invited XBLAFans to tour the forthcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows from Sandbox’s West Coast office, tucked away in an unassuming San Francisco backstreet.
Everyone in the room is a professed Turtles fan – it’s a safe place. We reminisce about TMNT: the films, the comics, the action figures and the animated series. We chat while the big-screen TV loops a placeholder Turtles tune from the ‘90s, fueling the nostalgia-laced conversation. It’s here that we discuss why the has-been franchise is ready for another run, and why Out of the Shadows is more than just a license – it’s fate.