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Dotemu is one of the most trusted indie publishers around now, and when news hit that they were bringing us a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles beat ’em up, the gaming world together screamed, “COWABUNGA!” After the way they handled Streets of Rage 4, many fans have been waiting patiently for the team’s next big thing. Well, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is that next big thing, as this is the first new original TMNT beat ’em up (Not based on the recent movies or the TV series) to release in roughly 30 years!
One of those last original titles? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, which came out in 1991. Dotemu and Tribute Games have confirmed that Shredder’s Revenge is heavily inspired by both the 1980’s TV series and Turtles in Time. That is great news for long-time fans, but is this the new Turtles game we have been longing for? Grab yourself a pizza and head for the sewers, because its time to ride this gnarly wave down nostalgia lane! It’s Pizza Time!
It must be said right at the front, but the opening animation is absolutely fantastic! Nostalgia overload, and the classic animated style is nice to see once again. The opening cinematic shows off all of the cool characters that the series is famous for, as well as some others. It is simply wonderful to see the Ninja Turtles back in their element!
In classic Turtles storytelling, we find our heroes, Splinter, and April chilling in the sewer watching the news and eating pizza. While watching, Vernon, the newscaster, is sharing what is happening, but first he needs to open a present sent to him. Well, the Foot Clan doesn’t waste any time, as the original Krang’s robot head emerges from the box, and Bebop is there to spoil the fun. He kidnaps Vernon, and that causes the Turtles and company to spring into action and get the game rolling.
This is precisely the kind of story I was expecting. It has a strong opening, a fantastic introduction level, and the story progresses wonderfully over the course of 16 episodes and battles with various villains in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles universe. To my surprise, though, episodes are spread out on the New York grid (And beyond), in a design that looks very similar to the overworld from the 1989 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game on the NES. It is super-cute and gives us location data as to where we are along the journey.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge looks and feels so much like the classic arcade-style beat ’em ups from the late 80s and early 90s. Tribute Games has somehow found a perfect balance between nostalgia and fresh, and Shredder’s Revenge seriously hits both of those buttons strong throughout the entire experience. The levels take the right amount of time, boss fights are pure fun and a great challenge, and the special stages are exactly the type of break-from-the-norm that is necessary for these types of games.
As is expected in this day-and-age, Shredder’s Revenge is completely drop-in/drop-out co-op, and that means both local and online. Locally, it is just a matter of pressing the + button to join, while joining either locally via another Switch or online requires creating a party that can be joined from the overworld. This kind of co-op is so wonderful, because the flexibility of it all is not only super-convenient but the fact that up to 6-players can join in a mixture local and online make matters even better. This is how you bring classic gameplay into 2022 perfectly.
Episodes are littered (Pun intended) with objects and boxes to break, and just like the older Turtles games, some times they contain pizza and some times they can be used as traps. This time around, though, special items can be found for special requests, and this is basically a series of simple side-quests you can do for NPCs you rescue or find within episodes. This gives so much more value to the play, as there are numerous things to look out for, and this is complimented even more thanks to the Challenges presented in each episode, tasking you with performing a certain number of actions, not taking damage, using traps to defeat enemies, and more. This is not simply a beat ’em up title, and Tribute Games wants you to know that they care about Ninja Turtles and your gaming experience.
When it comes to combat, beat ’em ups haven’t felt this good in a very long time, possibly ever. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge goes out of its way to make sure the game looks and feels like one of those classic Turtles titles, but it also heavily takes advantage of modern day mechanics, design, and programming. Jump kicks, special attacks, team attacks, and more feel so much more natural here, and the simple yet effective tutorial wonderfully paints how to play without taking too much of your time.
In regards to modes, Shredder’s Revenge has Story Mode and Arcade Mode, where Story basically takes you through the campaign at your pace, including choosing your preferred difficulty, while Arcade is the much more classic style that is a bit harder, as it has no saves and limited lives and continues. Both modes are essentially the same series of episodes, but the way they are played is quite different, giving two groups of gamers a unique experience based on the mode of play.
In addition to all of that, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge also boasts an impressive content menu that can be accessed from the overworld. This menu is called the Turtle Lair, and it provides information regarding achievements, level progression for each character, a challenges checklist for each episode, and collectables. This is an excellently well done menu to let you know where you are with everything, and for completionists, this is a dream menu.
The boss fights, and the way death and revival is handled, is such an improvement from the classic Ninja Turtles games. This time around, both the player and the boss flash when their health is low, which is very helpful both ways. Bosses feel less cheap than before, as their attacks and special moves this time around are much more rhythmic and less chaotic, making attack patterns easier to read. Finally, reviving your teammates is simply the press of a button, but you need to time it well, as any interference from an enemy will stop the action. The fact that it is included this time is a godsend, though.
Probably the greatest aspect of the entire game is its absolutely gorgeous pixel graphics. All of the characters, enemies, and bosses are designed to perfection, and again, it feels so much like a perfect marriage of nostalgia and new. But it doesn’t stop there, as the environments, the overworld, and everything in between is fantastic as well. One of my favorite little things are the playable characters’ faces on the overworld menu, as their heads and little hands are peaking over the player bar. It is adorable, and yet there are much more things to point out and admire as you play.
Finally, we get to the brilliant soundtrack, voice work, and sound effects. This is, in every aspect, a Ninja Turtles game by its audio alone. The music is phenomenal, and it is the throwback of throwbacks, even including originals tracks from Ghostface Killah and Raekwon. Every track is fun and adds so much to the game, and although the voice acting is minimal, it is still delivered wonderfully and brings joy to the player each time a fun Turtles expression is exclaimed. But where things shine most in the audio department is in the fantastic sound effects, particularly the various attacking sounds and unique sounds associated with each character, enemy, and boss. Truly amazing stuff.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is the best Ninja Turtles game yet. It is damn-near flawless, has loads of replay value, boasts a fantastic cast of characters both good and evil (Including an excellent unlockable character in Casey Jones), has a phenomenal soundtrack, and is one of the best-looking pixelated beat ’em ups of all time. There is so much to enjoy here, and it is suitable for both older fans like myself and newer, younger fans, as my children absolutely ate this one up.
I would say the only negative thing I can think to bring up is a duel-edge problem, but it is quite minor. Shredder’s Revenge is a decent experience when playing alone, but with 6-players at the same time, it is also a bit too busy. Because of this, the sweet spot is 3-4 players, and again, thanks to the incredibly convenient multiplayer, connecting with players locally and online is a cinch.
All I can say is that if you are a Ninja Turtles fan, you have to pick this one up. This is the ultimate TMNT experience, as it pays homage to just about every generation, and its stellar gameplay only further cements its status. Buy this one ASAP, because you will want to play it again, and again, and again, especially since there are multiple different endings, play styles, and gnarly characters to choose from.
Shredder’s Revenge is T-U-R-T-L-E POWER!
The best TMNT gaming experience to date
Excellent cast of characters, both good and bad
Beautiful pixel graphics
Phenomenal sound design across the board
So much replay value
Not the best single player experience (Lonely) or 6-player experience (Too busy)
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.