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Exclusive first look at TMNT’s April O’Neil in Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl

The developers talk about her design and modernizing her for release

Ana Diaz (she/her) is a culture writer at Polygon, covering internet culture, fandom, and video games. Her work has previously appeared at NPR, Wired, and The Verge.

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is on the way, and with it, the antics of a silly cast of Nickelodeon characters duking it out in the fighting arena. Developed by Ludosity and Fair Play Labs, Nickelodeon’s spin on a Super Smash Bros.-style fighting game will feature familiar faces like SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick Star, along with some of Nicktoon’s most popular characters. And with the introduction of so many unconventional fighters comes the opportunity for new ones to enter the fighting arena, including April O’Neil, a star of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Polygon has an exclusive first look at her moveset, along with an interview with the developers.

April O’Neil is a journalist and friend to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. She first appeared in 1984, in the long-running Mirage Studios TMNT comic series — where she was a computer programmer — before becoming a core supporting character and news reporter in the 1987 animated series. While April was a pants-wearing career woman, whose work seriously helped the Turtles, she wasn’t depicted as an action hero. She was often relegated to the sidelines and fell victim to the tropes of the times. In the cartoon, she’s often kidnapped by enemies, an occurrence so common that someone made a YouTube video of all 87 times she got kidnapped.

For Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl, the developers went with the classic 1987 look for April, as well as the other Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles characters. “It’s the one closest to our hearts,” Joel Nyström, CEO of Ludosity, told Polygon via email. But they took a different approach from the original comics and cartoons by bringing her onto the roster as a bonafide fighter.

“We didn’t want to make her a damsel in distress, we wanted her to be very capable and kick butt,” said Nyström.

You can check out the video for a deeper dive into her attacks, but the team settled on a moveset inspired by her career as a journalist. In the game, she won’t just be throwing punches, but microphones and other AV equipment as well. And she’ll be doing it all in her classic yellow jumpsuit.

“We know April isn’t a martial arts expert like her turtle friends, so we wanted to give her all sorts of retro recording equipment which are completely inspired by the same props you would see in the show,” said Diego Hernández, art director at Fair Play Labs.

Hernández said that it was fun for the team to go back and “give a fresh coat of paint” not only to April but to the entire Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles world with new 3D models. “The most exciting thing was going through all the original TV show episodes and nailing down her look,” Hernández said. “Back in the day, animators had a lot of freedom and her appearance could change quite a bit from one episode to the other.”

This isn’t the only game aiming to revamp April’s original design. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, a retro-styled, four-player, co-op beat-’em-up being developed by Tribute Games, is reimagining her as a street fighter. She’ll also be using her microphone and television cameras as weapons, in a nod to her classic design.

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is coming out Oct. 5 to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.

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