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Next TMNT Game Can Fix The Ninja Turtles’ Big Roster Problem

Many TMNT games don’t take full advantage of the franchise’s vast roster of characters, and many side players could carry a spin-off or two.

Recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles titles might be too focused on the main cast, and there are plenty of other characters worthy of the gaming spotlight. The past few years have been an exciting time for fans of the pizza-munching crime fighters thanks to the release of TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge, a side-scrolling throwback to the colorful beat-em-ups of old. These same classic titles were then released in the form of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection, which repackaged virtually every TMNT side-scroller on a single disk.

Even before that, the Turtles have headlined less successful outings like Platinum Games’ TMNT: Mutants in Manhattan and guest appearances in such crossovers as Injustice 2 and Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl. All of these games featured the titular Turtles as the primary playable characters, though Shredder’s Revenge also included Casey Jones, April O’Neil, and Master Splinter. While this is to be expected for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video game, it could be argued that several supporting characters are just as deserving of a time in the gaming spotlight as the franchise’s signature green quartet.

TMNT’s Universe Includes More Than Just The Heroes In A Half Shell
Indeed, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles multiverse spans countless cartoons, comics, movies, and more – and there have been plenty of great side characters that have yet to make a notable appearance in a mainline video game. From old favorites like Miyamoto Usagi and the Mighty Mutantimals to contemporary staples like Jennika and Alopex, there is no shortage of interesting mutant heroes that would be fun to play as in a new, open-world TMNT game. Many of these characters could even get their own spin-off games, potentially paving the way for a shared TMNT gaming universe similar to the one Insomniac is building with its Marvel titles. Either way, it’s time for TMNT games to embrace the franchise’s expanded universe.

Jennika Is IDW’s Punk Rocking Fifth Turtle
IDW’s excellent run of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics shook up the traditional status quo of the franchise in several exciting ways, including the introduction of a fifth Turtle sibling named Jennika. She first appears as a human and a devoted member of the Foot, though she would eventually become an unlikely ally to the Turtles once Master Splinter took control of the Clan. A vengeful Karai stabs her, and Leonardo gives her an injection of his mutagen-infused blood to save her life. This carries the unlikely side effect of mutating Jennika into a humanoid turtle similar to TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge’s playable heroes, and she soon takes her place alongside them while reconnecting with her love of punk rock.

Jennika has quickly become a key figure in the IDW comics, but she has yet to appear in any other media. A new TMNT video game could change that by having Jenny join the usual cast as a playable character – either as part of an ensemble or starring in a standalone spin-off. Her background as a former member of the Foot Clan and multiple weapons could shake up the usual TMNT beat-em-up gameplay, and her affinity for punk rock could make for a fun soundtrack. The developers of this hypothetical game could even draw upon her being in a rock band for some interesting Guitar Hero-style “battle of the bands” scenes should Jennika receive her own focus game.

Alopex Could Lend Her Claws To A New TMNT Game
Jennika isn’t the only former enemy of the Turtles to become an ally in the IDW comics, as exemplified by the mutant arctic fox Alopex. She was taken from her family and mutated by the Shredder to serve as one of the Foot Clan’s top assassins. Alopex would eventually rebel against her master and ally herself with the Turtles, even striking up a romantic relationship with Raphael in the process. Just like Jennika, Alopex has become extremely popular with comic book readers, but unlike her mutant comrade she has managed to cross over into other media like the 2012 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon and its related video games.

With this in mind, Alopex’s original IDW incarnation is due to appear in a new AAA TMNT video game. Her ninja training and fox-like cunning would make Alopex a great addition to any playable TMNT roster – perhaps even starting as a boss before being unlocked in reference to her backstory in the comics. She could also carry her own standalone video game, with her crimefighting stint alongside Nobody being prime material for a fun co-op title. Another memorable Alopex storyline saw her being mentally manipulated by the ancient witch Kitsune – which in turn could inspire a few realty-twisting sections akin to the Scarecrow’s nightmare segments in Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Miyamoto Usagi Is Due For A Gaming Comeback
While Miyamoto Usagi was created outside of the TMNT universe, Stan Sakai’s extradimensional samurai rabbit has crossed over with the Heroes in a Half Shell enough times to make him a bona fide staple of the franchise all the same. He has appeared in nearly every Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon from the 80s-onward as an ally to the Turtles and has even been featured in tie-in games for the 2003 and 2012 shows. Usagi continues to entertain readers in the ongoing Usagi Yojimbo comics, and the Netflix-exclusive Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles tells the story of his descendants trying to carry on his heroic samurai legacy in the futuristic city of Neo Edo.

Aside from his ventures in the TMNT universe, Usagi starred in two side-scrolling hack-and-slash titles and two different versions of a tabletop roleplaying game. Still, many felt that, his checkered history with the Turtles and his skills as a samurai warrior, he would have been a perfect character for TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge. A new TMNT video game would be all the better with Usagi among its line-up of anthropomorphic heroes, and a standalone Usagi Yojimbo title could channel sword-centric games like Ghost of Tsushima to tell an interactive tale of Usagi wandering a fictional version of Edo-period Japan in search of a greater purpose. Either way, the great samurai rabbit is certainly due for a gaming comeback.

The Mighty Mutanimals Deserve Their Own Game
There have been several different incarnations of the Mighty Mutanimals, a rag-tag team of mutants that have often allied with the Turtles to protect New York City. They first appeared in the pages of Archie’s TMNT comics, and have since appeared in the 2012 series and the ongoing IDW TMNT franchise. The only appearance of the Mighty Mutanimals in a video game to date has been in the 2017 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Legends mobile game.

An updated version of the team could star in a spin-off TMNT game in the style of recent team-based titles like Gotham Knights or the upcoming, co-op-focused Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. Depending on which characters are included, players could use each Mutanimal’s special abilities to take on enemies. Players could even team up in online co-op, just as they did in Shredder’s Revenge. In any case, the Mighty Mutanimals could give the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles a run for their pizza money in their own video game.

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