As someone born in the 80’s, I’ll always have a place in my cold heart for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – my very first obsession as a kid. I sat in the living room in my Donatello pajamas(my favorite turtle), endlessly watching VHS tapes of both the cartoons and movies. There’s also the…sizable collection of TMNT toys that were my prized possessions(along with my Batman toys). Of course, there was no shortage of video games back then either; the TMNT game on the NES is among the first games I remember playing as a kid and like so many others at the time, I could never make it past the infamous dam/bomb defusal level which required pixel-perfect precision to avoid taking damage from the electrified seaweed. My absolute favorite turtles game growing up was TMNT IV: Turtles In Time, which I was all-too-excited to play whenever I found it at an arcade or play the superior SNES version(IMO) at our neighbor’s house. The game remains on my short list of favorite SNES games, right up there with Donkey Kong Country and Super Metroid.
Given my childhood turtlemania, it shouldn’t be the least bit surprising I was pretty stoked to find out a brand new, retro-inspired beat ’em up – Shredder’s Revenge, was to be released. I was also excited to hear Dotemu was publishing the game as Streets of Rage 4 was one of my favorite games of 2020. After patiently waiting for a release date to be announced, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge was released on June 16, 2022. I immediately downloaded the game this past Thursday and finally had the chance to play…which I did all weekend long. It was pretty wholesome seeing so many others on social media excited about the game as they posted pictures of their living room as they celebrated with video games and pizza(totally, dude!).
So…what do I think of the game? Was it worth the wait?
The controls immediately feel familiar and are nice and responsive. I was able to pull off multi-hit combos on waves of Foot Clan soldiers with relative ease. A new addition is the Ninja Meter, which allows you to perform a different special move when filled. There’s also a power level for each character; this acts as a rudimentary xp/progression system which increases attack power while unlocking additional special attacks and uses of the Ninja Meter.
Shredder’s Revenge is a perfect game for multiplayer; featuring both online and couch co-op for up to six players. Each character in the game has different strengths in regards to speed, strength and reach. For example, Donatello has excellent reach(naturally) and respectable strength, but is much more limited in speed than Michelangelo who has greater speed and moderate strength, but limited reach with his nunchuks. Along with the fab four, Splinter, April O’Neil and Casey Jones are all playable characters posessing unique strengths and weaknesses. Playing through Shredder’s Revenge alongside five others on screen sounds both chaotic AND awesome…
The sixteen levels are just you’d expect from a spiritual successor to Turtles In Time, or beat ‘em up in general – make your way across an area pulverizing groups of enemies while avoiding the occasional obstacle such as open manhole or electrified floor. There’s also several episodes which take place on skate/surfboards as a (relatively minor)change of pace – think ‘Sewer Surfin’ or ‘Neon Night Riders’. Every single boss battle concluding an episode is fun. I can’t say they’re the most difficult I’ve come across in a beat ‘em up game, but still give enough of a challenge to keep properly engaged throughout. The Krang-operated “Statue of Tyranny” may have been my favorite fight, along with taking on both Bebop and Rocksteady. Of course, there’s a battle with Super Shredder thrown in at the end, just like Turtles In Time.
The pixelated graphics look as if taken straight from a Super Nintendo game in the 90’s…but even better; the animations are fluid and look amazing. In the dozen or so hours of playing, I’ve only come across one or two minor instances of slowdown when multiple enemies are onscreen.
Shredder’s Revenge conjures a potent rush of nostalgia not only in regards to visuals or gameplay, but also on an audio level. That familiar crunch of 90’s beat ’em ups is still heard/felt as you pile up hit combos on waves of Foot soldiers. The game also features a fantastic soundtrack in which a number tunes from Turtles In Time are referenced throughout. The soundtrack is also freakin’ awesome and sounds as if it could have been recorded during the era of ripped acid wash jeans and hacky sack – I mean that in the very best of ways. Providing additional 90’s soundtrack vibes is Faith No More frontman Mike Patton covering the vocals for the classic TMNT intro song; there’s even a track by Wu-Tang Clan’s Raekwon and Ghostface Killah – ‘We Ain’t Came To Lose’ which is much less…Vanilla Ice than ‘Ninja Rap’. To top the game off with a nostalgic bow, the original TMNT voice actors – Cam Clarke, Rob Paulsen, Barry Gordon and Townsend Coleman have returned to reprise their respective roles as Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo.
The dev team at Tribute Games went on the record in stating their passion for everything Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and wanting it to come across in Shredder’s Revenge – spoiler alert: it absolutely does. The game is celebration of everything kids like me loved about the cartoons and games in the late 80’s and onward. It retains the key elements that made games like Turtles In Time so memorable, all while adding a few modern flourishes to the mix. In short, I think the game is simply awesome and is cannot recommend it enough to turtle fans young and old.