In the 33 years that I’ve lived, one of my most distant yet fond memories of my childhood was watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on TV. Singing along with the theme song, pretending to be a ninja, and eating pizza was all the rage back then and making it even better was that as far as I can remember for the most part, the video games were good–great even.
But as I reached adulthood, not only did the turtles with attitude go down in relevance as their IP got passed around from entertainment company to entertainment company, the games started sucking too–I’m looking at you, Mutants in Manhattan.
Thankfully, not only are they back with a solid show on Nickelodeon for new generations to enjoy, the latest game from the geniuses at Dotemu is easily some of the most fun you’ll have, so if you’re on the fence about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, get right off. This game is fantastic.
What Is It?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is an action-packed 2D beat-em-up that’s completely unapologetic in its retro approach while also embracing how a modern game can feel. While it looks and plays every bit like you’d expect, it also throws in multiple nods to the classics that’ll make TMNT fans from any generation feel the cowabunga.
The game even starts off with a title sequence depicting and playing the original theme song from the ’90’s cartoon, which is just the right amount of corny, before going back to a pixel style similar to that of the SNES era. The story? It’s a beat-em-up–there’s nothing much to see here. Shredder is back along with other popular enemies like Krang, Bebop, and Rocksteady. Gotta kick them in the shell, of course.
Why Should I Care?
Now if you’ve never cared about 2D beat-em-ups, Shredder’s Revenge isn’t going to reinvent the wheel and change your mind.
But on the flip side, there’s a lot to love about the game if you’re a fan of the genre. Shredder’s Revenge utilizes a four-button system. You have your typical melee strikes and throws, a jump button, a button for your special moves, and the real game changer — a dodge roll. The purpose for games like this back in the day was to use up all your quarters by putting you in unfair situations because of hit boxes, enemies sponging up damage, and the sort. This is where Shredder’s Revenge is much more forgiving than any other game in the genre, and quite frankly, it’s a welcome addition that’ll make some players compare it to 2D fighters and even Super Smash Bros. with the emphasis of building combos through juggling. You even have the ability to taunt, which gives the game some attitude and flair while also feeling like an authentic TMNT experience.
To compare, Streets of Rage 4 (which Dotemu also did a fantastic job with), felt considerably more difficult, primarily because there wasn’t a whole lot at your disposal to play defensively.
The game has two general modes of play. There’s Story Mode, which allows you to save in between levels, switch up characters, and perform all sorts of sidequests typically involving the game’s many cameos calling back to previous TMNT games and series. At 16 levels, around seven minutes each, barring cheap deaths it really shouldn’t take an average player more than two hours to finish.
Then there’s the more challenging Arcade Mode, which is just the story mode with limited lives and the inability to save, so the game offers a couple fun ways to play the game however you like.
To add to the fun, not only do you have access to all four turtles, but April O’Neil and Master Splinter join the fray as playable characters, and you can even play any mode with up to six players at a time for all sorts of action. While we only had the opportunity to do this a couple times, the game performed admirably on PlayStation and Xbox. I personally found the game way more enjoyable when playing with my brother vs. playing alone, but the online matching system is pretty robust.
As you’d expect, while the controls remain the same, each of the characters have different strengths and weaknesses. The leader in Leonardo is a balanced character with no real strength or weakness, Michaelangelo’s nunchucks may not be the best of the turtles’ weapons but he’s definitely the fastest, Rafael and his twin sai pack a punch but isn’t great from a distance, and Donatello’s staff gives him all sorts of reach but he also isn’t the fastest of the four. In the meantime, April O’Neil rounds it out with surprisingly decent kung fu, while Master Splinter is ridiculously strong but is also slow because he’s old. At the end of the day, it’s all about picking who you like the most, but the real fun in the game is by beating them with all the characters and raising their base stats up. Ah, the nostalgic enjoyment in simple grinding.
All this said, the game does suffer from some light blemishes, primarily with the hoverboard levels. As cool as it may be to kick ass on a hoverboard, they don’t really add anything to the experience, except for frustration. These levels force you to avoid obstacles you can’t see, and you’ll also deal with flying enemies that are impossible to hit, even if you’re at the proper depth of the screen. I eventually spammed jump attacks by tapping the both the jump and attack button at the same time, but it isn’t immediately obvious that that’s the way to go. Making matters worse are the balloon pizzas as there’s no obvious way to get them either.
Even with those forgettable levels, there’s only like three or four of them, so it doesn’t tarnish the otherwise awesome experience.
What Makes This Worth My Time And Money?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is more than just a taste of cheesy ’90’s nostalgia, it’s a reminder that with the right approach, seemingly outdated genres are more than relevant today. Dotemu did the same thing with Streets of Rage 4, and they’ve done it again with Shredder’s Revenge–if these guys wanna publish every 2D action game we enjoyed back then, I’d gladly have them do it.
At that, I didn’t even talk about the game’s banging soundtrack composed by Tee Lopes of Sonic Mania fame–a game we also unfortunately have yet to see a follow up to, which is a shame because this game is to the TMNT series what was Sonic Mania was to the Sonic games. Tangent aside, from the catchy background music to the more funky lyrics we get out of Raekwon and Ghostface Killah? Shredder’s Revenge just might feature the best soundtrack of the year.
Shredder’s Revenge is one of those rare games where the awesome feeling you felt watching the first trailer is surpassed when you play it, so if beat-em-ups are for you, this is a definite must-own.