Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge

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.


Wario World

The world was first introduced to Wario, the “anti-Mario” as the villain of Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins on the Game Boy in 1992. He would then go on to star in his own series of Mario Land spin-offs – Wario Land which released on the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance, respectively. Wario also appeared as a playable character in games like Mario Kart or Mario Party, but it wouldn’t be until 2003 that he would star in his own adventure on a Nintendo home console.

Wario World was first released in June 2003 on the GameCube and was developed by Treasure, the studio behind games such as Gunstar Heroes, Sin and Punishment and Radiant Silvergun. The game begins with Wario sitting inside his castle, pleased with the riches he has accumulated. Suddenly, the evil Black Jewel is awakened after being stolen by a greedy treasure hunter and transforms the castle entirely and the riches located inside become a legion of enemy monsters. The titular antihero then embarks on a quest to put a stop to the Black Jewel and restore his humble abode to its former state. Wario must navigate his way through four worlds, each consisting of two stages and a final boss fight.

credit: MarioWiki

I played a small portion of Wario World shortly after its release, but for one reason or another had never made much progress. I was curious to return to the game and evaluate my experience in 2022. Having finished it recently, I can say I’m actually a bit upset I didn’t play more of the game back then. It’s a delight to play and has held up very well for something released nearly two decades ago. 

One of the very first things I noticed when starting up Wario World again was how the controls still feel remarkably nice for a game released in 2003. GameCube games haven’t suffered the ravages of time to the same extent of many N64 games, but can still feel dated by today’s standards. As with most other Nintendo platformers, Wario’s movement sits right in the middle ground between feeling too heavy and too floaty. I still find it interesting how I spent so many years playing games with exclusively inverted camera controls. It’s a little jarring going back to early 2000’s games after spending some many years with games where inverted controls are an afterthought(thanks, Halo).  

While the primary gameplay mechanic of comparable GameCube games like Super Mario Sunshine or Luigi’s Mansion centers around a particular item – F.L.U.D.D. or PolterGust 3000, Wario World takes advantage of Wario’s greater level of physicality than the brothers Mario, making the game a much more straightforward action/platformer as the garlic-breathed antihero can punch, grab and slam enemies. Some advanced maneuvers such as the spinning piledriver or screw attack-esque Corkscrew Conk will need to be utitlized in order to reach certain areas of a stage. The red jewels needed to complete a level can be found in underground treasure rooms; some consisting of little more than stone pillars to pulverize or platforms to ascend, and others require you to traverse a sprawling expanse of 3D platforms very similar to the ones found in Mario Sunshine. I’m reasonably confindent in saying I felt the camera controls in Wario World are noticeably better than Sunshine, making these sections less nerve-wracking.  

credit: MarioWiki

I was also pretty impressed with the boss fights in Wario World, each one of them feeling innovative and enjoyable. There was only a couple boss fights that presented any significant challenge – one being my battle against Red Brief – J., this being (just about)entirely due to the fact I hadn’t grasped the fight “gimmick” just yet. I was able to knock the Speedo-clad bull into the liquid-hot magma by doing a ground pound on the metal platform where the fight took place. I don’t know if I’d call Wario World a “difficult” game, especially when compared to some of Treasure’s other games(Hello, Radiant Silvergun). It’s a very approachable action/platformer, but certainly ratchets up the difficulty in the later levels. One thing that makes Wario World much more forgiving than other Treasure games is the ability to purchase a continue whenever your health is depleted; it can also be acquired by eating bulbs of garlic dispensed by vending machines in each level. Garlic and continues are purchased using the gold coins scattered across the levels and dropped by defeated enemies. I accumulated plenty of gold coins throughout my time in the game, so I never really felt I was in danger of running out of continues – this could be considered a pro or con, depending on the person playing.    

 The significant interest/demand in GameCube games the past few years can be easily attributed to the inevitable wave of nostalgia for something around 20 years ago – hell, I’m writing this while listening to music from Majora’s Mask, but combined with the perceived “failure” of Nintendo’s adorable little hexadron has resulted in many games becoming hard to find…as well as quite pricey, almost unreasonably so. This is unfortunate for games like Wario World(or Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, F-Zero: GX, Metroid Prime 2…I could go on) as it is an excellent game that could should have reached a bigger audience. The biggest criticism of Wario World at the time was concerning the game’s length(6-10 hours) and that perhaps it wasn’t “unique enough” to stand out against other first-party Nintendo GameCube games…again, like Mario Sunshine or Luigi’s Mansion. Wario World is a very approachable action/platformer, but can still provide enough of a challenge to keep longtime fans of the genre engaged. A solid game and heartily recommended…   

Thanks for reading!

credit: MarioWiki