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Friday, June 21, 2024

Gotham Knights Proves TMNT Deserves the Triple-A Treatment

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This week’s reveal trailer for Mutant Mayhem has us extremely stoked for the next generation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the big screen, but more than anything, it just makes me want a new TMNT game. As much as we loved last summer’s throwback beat-em-up Shredder’s Revenge, this is one pop-culture franchise that desperately needs the triple-A game treatment. And no, adding Shredder to Call of Duty doesn’t count (nor does it make much sense to bring a guy made out of knives to a gunfight.) But you know what really stings? We just got an incredible AAA open-world co-op action game that captured all the fun of TMNT… it just happened to be centered around Batman characters: Gotham knights.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: four masked vigilantes take to the streets and wage war on crime using martial arts skills and gadgets. You’ve got the leader in blue, the tech expert in purple, the surly short-tempered heavy-hitter in red, and of course the youngest member of the team who offers some comic relief. They operate out of a cool hideout in the middle of the city where they train, park their extremely toyetic vehicles, play video games to unwind and receive guidance and/or scoldings from an elderly mentor who drinks a lot of tea. They fight a variety of animal-themed villains, but their biggest threat is a gang of ruthless assassins who operate from the shadows, and which has a high-ranking member whose namesake is something that can cut you.

All the above is true of both Gotham Knights and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Part of the reason I can’t unsee this is that the last big, triple-A non-LEGO, non-cartoony DC game was Injustice 2. In addition to a roster full of characters who appear in Gotham Knights, the Turtles also showed up as DLC. We’ve seen Raph and Leo taking on Harley and Mr. Freeze already, now let me take them bounding across skyscraper rooftops looking for gangs of street punks to beat up.

There are a variety of reasons why Gotham Knights is NOT a TMNT game, no matter how much I might want it to be. First and foremost, WB has full ownership of DC characters, while TMNT is a Nickelodeon property, and Nick is a subsidiary of Paramount Global, which is one of WB’s competitors. WB Discovery CEO David Zaslav has a historic dislike of talking animals that solve mysteries, so that could be a factor too. (Okay, not really, but he did shelve Scoob!: Holiday Haunt and I’m still sore about it.)

TMNT hasn’t had the same luck as Batman in the triple-A space, so Paramount might not think pumping millions into game development is exactly, uh, paramount. 

Also, WB Interactive has cracked the code to making solid Batman games. The sky-high expectations set by the Arkham series may have ultimately worked against Gotham Knights’ reception, but it’s also what paved the way for it in the first place. Either way, Ninja Turtles hasn’t had the same luck as Batman in the triple-A space, so the higher-ups at Paramount might not think pumping millions of dollars into game development is exactly, uh, paramount.

That said, between the massive success of Shredder’s Revenge and the possibility of Mutant Mayhem exerting some Turtle Power over the box office, maybe it’s just a matter of time before a big huge modern TMNT game comes out of the shadows.

In the meantime, I guess I’ll have to use my imagination. I can pretend that Professor Pyg is Bebop and Man Bat is Wingnut and Clayface is Muckman. And hey, maybe if I’m lucky, somebody will whip up some PC mods that mutate Gotham Knights into a TMNT game. After all, if someone made a mod where you can play through Spider-Man as IGN’s gotham knights review score, anything’s possible. Cowabunga!

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