Better Wheels than Heels

I’ve talked about the Ninja Turtles characters that I’d like to see realized in Freedom Force, but the characters themselves were only part of what created the Turtlemania craze that shaped (twisted?) so many young lives.  In fact, the Playmates toy line and the cartoon itself introduced a number of vehicles that were every bit as wacky and unique as the cast itself, thereby ensuring that they would make an unholy profit from the kids of the 80’s, but also creating a world of even greater depth and color.

I’ve discussed in a few different places how much I’d like to bring some of the Turtles vehicles flying, driving, or floating onto the computer screen in my mod, and today begins another countdown of my top five vehicles.  They’d all have some roll to play in my Turtles campaign, and although their integration would provide a number of challenges, they would certainly make the game itself more inclusive and exciting.

5) The Foot Knucklehead: This giant mechanical spider has boxing gloves on the ends of its metal appendages….for some reason.  I don’t know why, but the simplicity of this design and the way it so totally captures the feel of the Foot clan appeals to me.  It showed up in the cartoon, the comics, and the Playmates toy line.  I think it would be a rather nice way to up the Foot’s firepower, while still sticking to the slightly goofy nature of the Turtles’ world.  Likelihood: Fair. There exists a mechanical spider mesh, and even a skope of someone sitting on its back.  If someone is willing to slap a Foot Soldier on there and skin it, we’re in business.

4) Cudley the Cowlick: Remember the disembodied, time and space transcending cow head that I mentioned the other day?  Well, believe it or not (and really, when we’re talking about marketing the Ninja Turtles, what ISN’T believable), he was once planned as a vehicle/playset for a proposed Mutanimals spin-off.  I suppose it’s just a love of the divine wackiness that pervaded the original cartoon and plenty of the Archie run, but aside from my nostalgic soft-spot for this character/conveyance, he would just be so…unique for a video game incarnation of the Turtles.  No other game that I know of includes giant, space-worthy bovine brain buckets.  Likelihood: Almost Impossible. Not only can I not really imagine anyone wanting to do this one, I’m not even sure HOW it could be done without a custom mesh…and let’s face it, that ain’t happening.

The Runners Up

Well, you’ve seen my top fifteen (’cause I couldn’t bring myself do to do just a top ten), but believe it or not, there were several that didn’t make the  cut.  There were a few characters that I really agonized over, and the final choices were pretty tough.  If I had infinite time and resources, all of these guys would find their way into Freedom Force, but unfortunately such is not the case.  Prepare to meet, in no particular order, the also-rans:

Wrestling Turtles: Another story arc from the Archie comics had the fab four whisked away to an intergalactic wrestling show by a giant, disembodied, floating cow head (I’m really not kidding).  The story itself was so over the top and unapologetically bizarre that it was charming.  The idea of the Turtles having to compete in some strange, alien contest of skill and courage is hardly a unique one.  I believe it shows up in just about all of their incarnations, but I liked the way that the Archie series really embraced the tropes of the wrestling shows that they were parodying.  The Turtles got strange new costumes, battled bizarre, gimmicky foes, and generally were very similar to your average episode of your average wrestling show.  Perhaps its just the guilty pleasure of watching those things during one of their goofiest stages, but something about this adventure appealed to me.  I think it would have been great fun to try to put together a set of missions where you have to engage in wrestling matches with various foes, though it would have taken a lot of work on my part.

Sarnath and Quark: This pair of aliens, one blind, one a big, spikey, dog-like-thing, were another neat feature of the Archie comics.  In the cartoon, the Turtles had come across an alien artifact of great power called the “Eye of Sarnath.”  This object was left on Earth by an alien, but the eponymous “Sarnath” was never seen.  In the Archie series, he shows up, and he’s pissed.  It turns out that the eye is an actual eye, of sorts, for the cybernetic Sarnath.  We have the usual heroic misunderstanding, but then an interesting and tragic story is kicked off.  I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read the issues in question, but I’ve always had a soft spot for ‘ol Sarnath and his spikey seeing-eye dog.

Hothead: An ancient dragon spirit empowering a modern firefighter, this character was not only very cool as a toy, but also hot stuff (I couldn’t resist the pun.  I’m so, so sorry…) in the comics.  His apperances in the Archie comics were part of a pretty good series of story arcs which took the Turtles all across the world.  His role in the series culminated with an awesome showdown with an eastern demon.  His size changing would make him an interesting opponent for Krang on the city-crushing scale, but he’d really be too powerful to be recruitable.

Alright folks, that’s it for those that coulda’ been a contender, but tomorrow we’ll have something new, but still TMNT related.

Dream Team Part V


Turtles and Frogs and Ducks, oh my!  We’ve reached the top three, and these guys are all characters that I hope to see in Freedom Force sooner or later.  They’ve all been Playmate-ized as toys, and they were, in my opinion, some of the best. They certainly loom large in my childhood memories. As a matter of fact, our first subject owes his popularity almost entirely to his toy incarnation:

3) Ace Duck: Perhaps the number one favorite toy from the days of my Turtlemania, this fighter pilot turned mutant duck just looked too cool to pass up.  He shows up in the comics in a completely different form, but the grimacing, bomber jacket wearing fellow from the toy line will always be the real Ace Duck to me.  He’s another option for the winged air support that I’d like to give the Turtles, and I think he’d be great from a gameplay standpoint. He probably wouldn’t be too much good at fisticuffs, but with grenades, a pistol, and the ability to take to the skies, he’d certainly change things up.   Likelihood:  Good. A mostly completed skope exists, though it is in limbo at the moment.

2) Rat King: Definitely my top villain from both the cartoon and the toy line, this master of all rodentia has just always interested me.  Part of that probably has to do with the more sympathetic portrayal he received in the Archie comics, but I also loved his look as a kid.  As a matter of fact, I liked his figure so much that I couldn’t bear to have him be a villain.  In my games the Rat King would have a sudden, dramatic change of heart and join the Turtles against the evil Foot!  Don’t ask me why.  He’s just about a must for me, and he has the potential to figure heavily into dozens and dozens of possible missions.  He’d make a great villain, gameplay-wise.  A combination of mind control, grenades, and acid attacks would add some nice variety, and he has a perfectly plausible source of minions.  Likelihood:  Very Good. He should be a very easy skope and relatively easy skin.  The real challenge is how to put together his legion of rats.

1) The Punk Frogs: Genghis Frog, Attila the Frog, Napoleon Bonafrog, and Rasputin the Mad Frog showed up in only two episodes of the original cartoon, but they left a lasting impression on my young mind.  These amphibian counterparts to the Turtles seemed like a great idea to me then, and they still do today.  I’ve always been a Southern sympathizer, and these four green good-old-boys seemed alright by me.  In terms of gameplay, they would add some nice variety to the player’s roster, but they would also be great for a few fun missions drawn from their cartoon appearances.  They add four new weapons along with four new characters, a bow, an axe, a bullwhip, and a mace.  That has potential!  Likelihood:  Fair. While I think their skopes would be relatively complicated, the Frogs do have a bit of a following.  Here’s hoping it proves to be enough!

Well, I hope that has been interesting to some of you.  Now you know my top picks.  What are some of your favorite characters?  Who would you most like to play as/against in a Turtles game?  As always, feel free to leave comments!  This series is over…almost.  I’ve got one last bit of commentary planned for tomorrow.  I hope you’ll all join me again!

Dream Team Part IV

Hello again dear readers, and welcome to another installment of my TMNT character countdown!  We’re almost to the very top of the list, and these guys are the cream of the crop.  Starting us off today is one of the creepiest of Turtles villains, and the star of a not insignificant number of children’s nightmares.  He’s one of only a few characters on my list that were never part of the Playmates toyline, everyone’s favorite maurading killing machine:

6) Armaggon: This mutant shark is undoubtedly one of the most visually striking of all the Turtles’ villains.  He just looks so darn evil and scary!  He, of course, hails from the aforementioned “Future Shark Trilogy,” and I would love a chance to pit him against the Green Machine.  It would be a dream come true to get, not only Armaggon himself, but also his warmachine.  However, that would almost be overkill, as the ghastly gray one is a walking arsenal as is.  If you look at the image above, you’ll notice those weird lumps on either side of his face.  Yep, those are rocket launchers in his SKIN.  While this may seem almost Liefield-like, I thought it was pretty neat as a kid, and I have to say that he’d make one heck of a foe in FF.  Likelihood: Almost Impossible. This would be an extremely difficult skope, if it would be possible at all, and I doubt Armaggon is popular enough to elicit that kind of effort.

5) Wingnut and Screwloose: A deranged bat-like alien and his overgrown mosquito sidekick, these two anti-heroes would make for a really great addition to the Turtles’ allies, as well as providing a fun mission or two.  Wingnut was another of my favorite Turtles toys once upon a time, though at the time I didn’t get the joke of a paranoid mutant bat in a blue and gray outfit, complete with utility belt.  I have quite a good idea about how to build them into the game, and I think the addition of a flying character would give the players some nice options.  Given Wingnut’s…issues…he’d certainly have to have the “Mad” attribute, and these guys would definitely need “Charged Pair.”  I suppose I’d create Screwloose as a sidekick that always came along with Wingnut.  It would make them pretty unique, which is something I’m going for in my designs.  Likelihood: Very Slim. While I think Wingnut would be possible to skope, it would be pretty complicated, and Screwloose would be tough as well, though he could probably use parts of Gren’s Beetle.

4) Leatherhead: This mutated alligator is an enemy of the Turtles in the cartoon and an ally in the comics.  I’ve always loved him a s a villain, and the dynamic between him and the Punk Frogs is great fun.  How can you not like the idea of a back swamp trapper turned real life leatherhead?  As part of the Mutanimals he kind of gets lost in the shuffle.  As a good guy he’s just not as interesting as Mondo Gecko, Man Ray, or Wingnut, at least not to me.  He’s another one I’ve already given some thought to in terms of FF build.  What with an alligator’s physical power, and a variety of traps and weapons, I think he’d make a nice opponent, especially in some missions dealing with the Frogs.  Likelihood:  Fair. I don’t think he’d be too hard to skope, and Leatherhead is a pretty popular character.

Well, thanks for reading folks.  Come back tomorrow as we reach number one!

Dream Team Part III

Howdy folks, it is time for part three of my Ninja Turtles character countdown.  Now we’re getting into those toys and stories that really had an impact on me as a kid.  It’s telling of how deeply the Turtles are ingrained in the psyche of the children of the 80’s that many of us, without having seen, spoken about, or thought of a single one of the toys or comics from which these characters are drawn, immediately recognizes them a decade later.  We may not remember their names, but we certainly remember them.  And the first candidate today is one of the most memorable for me:

9) Mondo Gecko: One of the Mighty Mutanimals and one of my all time favorite toys when I was a kid, this mutant gecko is certainly a visually interesting character.  The idea of a skateboarding lizard was just about the height of awesome to my childhood self, and I have to say, it still makes me smile today.  However, Mondo provides some pretty unique challenges for Freedom Force.  I’ve got only the vaguest idea of how he’d work in game.  He’d obviously be extremely mobile because of the skateboard, but he was never exactly a whole lot of good in a fight, even in the comics.  Likelihood:  Very Slim. A skateboarding lizard may very well need a new mesh, which isn’t likely to happen.

8.) Future Turtles: A long time ago I read the Archie “Future Shark Trilogy,” and it had a pretty profound impact on me.  That story elevated the Turtles above the goofier side of the cartoon for me.  Suddenly they were characters that deserved compelling stories, characters who could have adventures that meant something.  Looking back on those issues now, they seem so much weaker than they once did, but the heart of this story is still gripping.  It was my first encounter with a dystopian future, and it was a story of loss, about coming to grips with growing old.  In a world of cartoons that never touched the concept of death or aging, these stories stood out.  After all, how can you not love a series that gives you Raphael punching Hitler?  As for the Future Turtles themselves, I’d only really want them to be able to adapt this story.  Differentiating all of them from their normal counterparts would be a bit of a pain, but it could also turn out with some good gameplay.  Likelihood: Very Slim. They’d be easy enough to skope, but I doubt they’re popular enough to catch an artist’s interest.

7) Ray Fillet: The Manray!  This marine biologist turned aquatic mutant powerhouse was one of my favorite toys as a kid, one of my favorite characters from the comics, and remains one of my all-around favorites.  I suppose it’s the coastal boy in me, but I just have a thing for aquatic heroes.  I still remember the first story about him in the Archie comics, and I was thrilled to discover that he was in the Mighty Mutanimals as well.  Anyway, I always thought Ray had a great look, and his super strength based powerset would provide a nice addition to the roster of heroes available.  Plus, with him onboard I’d be one step closer to bringing the Mutanimals to life.  Likelihood:  Slim. I don’t think he’d necessarily be hard to skope (though his “wings” might be trouble), but poor Ray is likely too obscure to bag an artist.

Alright, that’s it for this batch, but come back tomorrow for another step closer to the top three!  Also, please remember that I’d love to hear about your favorite characters and who you’d like to see in the mod.

Dream Team Part II

Here we go with numbers 12 through 10 of my countdown!  These TMNT characters are the ones whom I’d really like to see, but they couldn’t quite make the cut of the top contenders.  Up first, everyone’s favorite ronin bunny….

12) Usagi Yojimbo: The samuari rabbit…just how cool of a concept is that?  I’ve always loved Usagi, and though he technically doesn’t fit in with the TMNT’s world, in a setting like theirs it isn’t hard to find a way to plug him into a story.  My only real concern with Usagi would be the difficulty in differentiating him from Leonardo in his build.  How many ways can you represent a sword swing?  I’m thinking I would make him stronger and slower than Leo, but it is a question I’d have to consider carefully.  Still, he’s a neat character, and it would be fun to see him taking Shredder and co. on in FF.   I’d almost have to arrange a one-on-one fight between him and Leo.  Likelihood:  Fair. Usagi is very popular, but he’s going to require a pretty complex skope.

11) Merdude: Ahh, the inexplicably French merman of the TMNT set…he’s a very strange character, but as a kid he was one of my absolute favorite figures.  In reading through the Archie comics I’ve come to realize that Merdude is the Submariner to Ray Fillet’s Aquaman.  These characters are, in many ways, parodies of their mainstream aquatic counterparts.  Still, despite these oddities, I have to say that I still have a soft spot for this ocean dwelling mutantLikelihood: Almost Impossible.  He’d require a really tough skope, if it were possible at all, and he’d only really be usable in aquatic missions.  That adds a whole new set of headaches.

10) Metalhead: This robotic turtle would be a great change of pace in terms of villains.  I’ve already got the mission he’d premiere in dreamed up, and I think he’d make for some really interesting gameplay.  I’d probably make him actually metal material type, and then the Turtles’ weapons would be relatively ineffective against him.  Defeating him would require some creative thinking on the player’s part.  I remember him from both the show and the classic games…plus, I had his toy at one point in time.  I’d love a chance to unleash him on the players!  Likelihood: Fair. He’s another one who might be able to use the existing Turtle mesh, but some type of skope and skin are necessary.

Alright folks, I hope this is proving interesting to someone out there!  Tune in tomorrow for the next step on the countdown!

The Dream Team

I’ve been thinking a lot about Ninja Turtles lately.  I got a volume of the classic ‘toon for my birthday, so that probably has something to do with it.  Whatever the reason, my reflections have naturally drifted toward just how to do the Turtles and their world justice in Freedom Force.  I haven’t been able to get much work done lately because of several real real life things that have been keeping me quite busy.  As a result, I don’t have a release ready for this post, but I thought that some of you out there in the ether might be interested in the subject of my ruminations these last few days.

The Turtles’ cast has always been one of the strongest aspects of the original cartoon, the Archie comics, and almost all of the other incarnations of the franchise.  One of the things that has always disappointed me about the Turtles games that have come out over the years is the limited representation of that very asset.  There have been some notable exceptions, but even great games like Turtles in Time, which had a strong representation of Turtles villains, included only the four half-shelled heroes as playable characters.  Thus, one of the things that I most want to do in my mod is pack in as many of my favorite TMNT characters as I can manage, and the great thing about Freedom Force is that, even if you don’t get to play as, say, The Fly, during the campaign, you’ll be able to use him in the Rumble Room.

I’ve put quite a bit of thought into just which characters I’d most like to see make an appearance.  While I’ll obviously be limited by who I can get skinned/skoped/meshed, these are my top choices:

15) Dirtbag and Groundchuck: These two would make a great villainous pair and some interesting foes for the Turtles.  A mutant mole and bull provide a nice dichotomy in terms of powers, and they would lend themselves nicely to FF herofiles.  You’ve got one who would naturally be a tank with a solid variety of ranged attacks, and then you’ve got another who could take a more support role, burrowing from spot to spot for some close in attacks.  These guys aren’t characters that I’ve got a huge nostalgic connection to, but they are neat nonetheless.  I actually like the idea of Dirtbag as something of villain specifically for Splinter, rodent against rodent.  Likelihood: Slim. Both characters would require meshes or complicated skopes, and they are pretty obscure.

14) Wyrm and Scumbug:  Here we’ve got another, but much more disgusting, pair of possible villains for the Turtles.  These two characters would practically write their own mission.  They both showed up in the Archie comics, and their origins were suitably tragic as to stick in my memory.  The mutations of this garbageman and exterminator were not nearly as fortunate as those of the Turtles, and the resulting monstrosities battled each other, as well as everyone’s favorite green teens.  Wyrm and Scumbug could form the core of a pretty entertaining mission or two, and the nature of the characters lends itself to them showing up unlooked for later on.  Likelihood: Very slim. Whereas Dirtbag and Groundchuck have something of a following, these guys are pretty unloved.

13) Slash:  Another Turtle, but with a decidedly more violent outlook, Slash is a character with some neat potential.  Either a mutant snapping turtle or a turtle-like alien, either way Slash is a simple-minded killing machine.  He could certainly serve as yet another of the Shredder’s weapons against the Turtles, but the Archie series also illustrates the heroic side of the character, so perhaps he’d eventually make a nice addition to the player’s roster.  In terms of his build in the game, I imagine he’d be all damage and no defense.  Also, he’d simply have to have the “Berzerker” attribute.  It is the comics version that has stuck with me all these years.  He’s tragically heroic, and his final stand really endeared this psychotic amphibian to the young Mr. Grey.  Likelihood: Fair. Skoping him would be pretty easy since we’ve already got the other Turtles, and Slash is pretty well known.

Check back soon for the next batch of picks in the countdown!