TMNT Co-creator Kevin Eastman On Why The Last Ronin Is Being Made Into A Game


In 1987, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird developed a storyline for their creation that never came to fruition. Titled “The Last Ronin,” Eastman and Laird envisioned it as the final Turtles story set 30 years in the future. While Eastman and Laird never got around to creating that storyline in the original run of their comics under their company Mirage Studios, the idea stuck with Eastman through the years, and decades later, as part of the franchise’s new life with IDW Publishing, he worked with his longtime collaborator Tom Waltz to bring the idea to the pages of a five-issue miniseries that ran from 2020 to 2022.

The story is bleak and gritty, establishing a universe where the four beloved brothers have been taken out one by one. It’s set in an alternate future where New York has been ravaged by constant battles under the thumb of the fascist grandson of the Shredder, Oroku Hiroto. The last remaining Turtle, bearing the weapons of all four, goes on a quest to avenge his fallen brothers against Hiroto.

One of the central mysteries surrounding the storyline is in regards to which of the brothers is the sole survivor. As the miniseries ended in 2022, the answer is obviously readily available on the internet, but we won’t spoil that here, even though we don’t know if the game will follow the same path as the comic

The Last Ronin was a surprise success and, according to Eastman, brought in fans of the franchise from all eras and walks of life. “It just opened up like a Pandora’s Box of a lot of original fans finding it or maybe fans that were fans back in the day but have not picked up a Turtle thing in years were coming back to it,” he says. “It just had the snowball effect that people that have never read Turtles or even some of the kids that were introduced to the Turtles in the 2012 series […] but have grown past that middle part of the animated series, but they still liked the Turtles but were looking for something older and edgier. It was just right place, right time, and it just clicked and jammed and worked, and we were all like, ‘Wow!'”

Paramount, which now owns the TMNT franchise, wanted to capitalize on the success and acclaim of The Last Ronin by taking it multimedia, but concerns emerged about conflicting with the 2023 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem film. “It was such a clever idea by Paramount and Nickelodeon in the surprising success of The Last Ronin,” Eastman says. “They were already well down the road with the incredible Mutant Mayhem project and everything they wanted to do there, and they said, ‘We’d love to do something with The Last Ronin, but we don’t want to battle each other and take away from [Mutant Mayhem].’ I’d describe Mutant Mayhem as a kids-of-all-ages movie, much like the first Turtle movie that Steve Barron and Jim Henson did. [Paramount] said, ‘Let’s go and adapt it as a video game because we can give it all the edge and all the attitude and intensity that you did in the comic series and even go a bit deeper.'”

Officially revealed in 2023 through a cryptic teaser trailer, we know very little about TMNT: The Last Ronin. However, we do know that it is being developed by Black Forest Games and published by THQ Nordic for PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC. While Eastman readily admits he’s not the biggest gamer, he had a hand in many of the early games that many consider the pinnacle of the TMNT franchise in video games and is working with the developers on this title. When I ask him how TMNT: The Last Ronin is coming along, he’s not ready to spill any details, but he’s definitely positive about how the game is coming together.

“Everything I’ve seen – we’ve been interacting with the development crew – and it looks like some of the sets and some of the characters have literally walked right off the pages of the comic,” Eastman says. “So beautiful. So fantastic. And so pretty much every fan of Last Ronin that I’ve talked to is really, seriously pumped, like, ‘We get to have an older version of the Turtles just for us as a video game!'”

Closing out my conversation with Eastman, which was largely focused on the history of the TMNT video games, the co-creator once again circles back to how impressed he is with the progress of TMNT: The Last Ronin, but through the lens of the last several decades of video games. “Adapting The Last Ronin as a video game using the latest and the greatest artisans and writers and coders and technologies, it’s great to see the Turtles being able to adapt into that,” he says. “And if it’s done the way we all hope and the way it’s taking shape, then I think we’ll get to play in this arena for a long time to come, and that’s up to the fans to decide. We’re going to do the best job we can and hope for the best.”

If you’d like to read more from Eastman and others involved with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video games over the years, be sure to check out the new issue of Game Informer, which includes a huge feature on the history of TMNT within video games. TMNT: The Last Ronin was officially revealed in 2023 and does not currently have a release window. However, we do know that it is slated to come to PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC. 

If you’d like to prepare for this game by reading the source material, TMNT: The Last Ronin is on sale now through IDW Publishing, and TMNT: The Last Ronin II – Re-Evolution issue #1 is available this week.

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