Turner Pinball

The Heroes of Ninja Eclipse

Posted on April 08, 2024 by Bradlee Ching

Turner Pinball’s inaugural game, Ninja Eclipse, is full of legend, mystery, adventure, and supernatural creatures. Let’s meet the heroes behind Ninja Eclipse.

The Story Behind Ninja Eclipse

The Ninja Eclipse comic book sets the stage for the vibrant world of the Ninja Eclipse pinball game. Quinn Johnson, the storywriter for both the game and the comic book, introduces us to a world of legends, ninjas, and a cursed blade.

If you are new to pinball or the gaming industry, you may wonder why having a story even matters. Quinn Johnson states, “It’s really cool when you watch a movie and there’s actually this whole world-building lore that goes beyond what you see in the two hours of the movie. There’s a fully realized world that brings the whole thing to life. And that’s what I wanted to do with the Ninja Eclipse game.” There’s significance to each element of the playfield, dialogue, and battle modes.

Heroes Cabinet Art

Heroes Cabinet Art

The story provides depth, purpose, and motivations for all the characters and this informs the purpose of the whole game. “The story makes the whole experience much more meaningful, rich, and exciting for those who want to dig deeper,” says Johnson.

The story, as introduced in the Ninja Eclipse comic, begins in feudal Japan. A master bladesmith forged a powerful sword only to discover its corrupt powers should never be wielded. For fear that the sword would open a rift to the Shadow Realm, the bladesmith hid the sword deep in the mountains of Japan. The Iga Ninja Clan was founded to protect the sword and keep its location secret.

The years that followed were full of wars led by samurai lords. For 500 years, clans rose up in factions against each other until a great Shogun rose up in power, bringing peace into the land. This is when we meet our two heroes: Sho and Akari.

Meet the Heroes

Sho is a young warrior and a member of the Iga Ninja Clan. He is disciplined and dedicated to his sacred mission of guarding the evil Oni Sword. The rest of his clan has come to view the legend of the sword as a juvenile story handed down through the generations.

The other ninjas in the clan have rejected their original mission, and instead seek more prestigious missions offered by lords vying for power. However Sho is steadfast in his purpose of guarding the sword. His dedication to this task has made him the most skilled, honorable, and agile ninja in his clan. Despite this, Sho feels ostracized from his community for his faithfulness to the mission.

Comic Snapshot 1

Comic Snapshot 1

Nearby in a mountain shrine is a young miko named Akari. She along with other shrine maidens live a life of devotion, performing intricate rituals and dances with their miko bells. She was abandoned as a baby at the shrine and was taken in by the women there, raised as a miko.

Despite having lived her whole life in this community, she often feels out of place. She has mysterious powers and haunting visions. Akari finds solace in nature and often takes walks in the forest. On one of her many walks, she befriends Sho. They find each other in the midst of their loneliness and a friendship quickly blossoms.

Comic Snapshot 2

Comic Snapshot 2

As their story progresses Akari and Sho become a powerful duo, taking on the evil oni villains of the Ninja Eclipse pinball game. Johnson states, “As you play the game–and you see this in the comic book a lot–you see that they rely on each other and that they pull out the best in each other, they work together, and fight together. But they also help each other see the goodness in each other when they are doubting themselves. And I think that’s something we all need.”

Bringing the Characters to Life

Quinn Johnson was approached by Chris Turner to help come up with a new, unlicensed concept for the first Turner Pinball machine. Between Johnson’s storytelling and Brad Duke’s illustration, the characters began to take form. Johnson along with illustrator Katherine Shuda began developing the comic book, a vivid presentation of the backstory of Ninja Eclipse.

Comic Development

Comic Development

If you’re new to the pinball industry, you may be unaware of the many facets of creating a pinball game. In a recent interview with PDubs Arcade Loft, Chris Turner states “Pinball is a complicated project. It’s one of the most multi-disciplinary projects I’ve ever worked on. I don’t know many other types of projects where you can combine software, hardware, and art. You’re creating theater along with engineering.”

Playfield Collage

Playfield Collage

You can see Johnson’s creative touch in the story, artwork, and audio of Ninja Eclipse. Johnson is no stranger to storytelling in the gaming industry. In 2014, he began working at Disney Interactive Studios where he was a game designer and story writer for Disney Infinity. Since then, he has been involved in the gaming industry, pinball, and comic books. He has been a writer for the Ninja Turtles and Kung Fu Panda comic series. He is now publishing his own comic series, Elders of the RuneStone.

“A big thing in both video games and pinball is you’re trying to write dialogue and instructions that ultimately make it fun and enjoyable, but also helping the player understand what they are supposed to be doing,” says Johnson. This is a challenge in the fast-paced game of pinball. This makes character audio call-outs so important for instructing the player and bringing the game to life. The flashing lights, playfield graphics, and call-outs all prompt the player to take certain shots and succeed. Many of these aspects are common between digital gaming and the pinball player experience.

Ninja Eclipse is available for purchase now. Learn more about the features and gameplay here.

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