Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge Review
Classic arcade coin-op combat is back with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge splicing retro aesthetic with modern gameplay, my full review.
One of the franchises that instantly brings me back to my childhood is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. My fondest memories of the Super Nintendo era are huddling around the TV with my cousins to play TMNT IV: Turtles in Time. In my books, it still is one of the best "beat em' ups" of all-time. When I heard developers Dotemu and Tribute Games were teaming up to bring back a spiritual successor I was cautiously optimistic. I wasn't sure how the retro game would translate with modern mechanics.
After sinking a good chunk of time into the game with my 8-year-old son (hey, gotta introduce a new generation to the Turtles!) I can say it's one of the best beat em' ups I've ever played. The teams behind Shredder's Revenge have done an incredible job nailing that old-school feel while modernizing the gameplay with so many nods back to the source material. Let's jump into the epic 16-bit brawler and explore all it has to offer.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge Details
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC
Developer(s): Tribute Games
Genre: Beat 'em up
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)
New York needs saving!
The opening 16-bit cinematic does a great job of setting up the story, it also brought me right back to the 80s (in a good way!) Things kickoff with Bebop and Rocksteady assaulting Channel 6 and looting the station to support Krang and Shredder’s plans. Without spoiling anything, Shredder is back and the Foot Clan are looking to takeover New York and defeat our heroes in a half shell. It's up to the turtles and their pals to stop the clan's dastardly plans.
Different game modes
The game has two main modes: Arcade and Story each offering a different experience when it comes to the level of challenge. In Arcade mode, the game replicates the cabinet experience, players have a limited amount of lives with maxed out character stats.
It's far less forgiving, and there for those looking for a retro-style challenge. Story mode is different, you earn upgrades character, find collectibles and have infinite lives. I recommend starting off with Story Mode to see all the game to offer first. Your journey to stop Shredder and his goons spans 16 different action packed levels. From the streets of Manhattan, to city rooftops and dank sewers, all the way to Dimension X.
A brilliant beat em' up
At its core, Shredder's Revenge is a 2D beat em' up in the same vein as classics like Final Fight or Streets of Rage. You can choose from one of four turtles – Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Donatello – as well as a newly expanded cast of Splinter and April O'Neil. To even further bolster the roster, Casey Jones becomes available once you beat the game.
Each character packs their own unique stats and abilities. Donatello for example has greater reach with his bō staff, where Raphael has a shorter, but more powerful attack with his twin sai. The objective in each stage is simple: beat up every enemy in sight until you reach the final phase where you'll face-off against a powerful boss. I won't spoil the full list villains, but if you are fan of the franchise you'll be happy to see favourites like Bebop, Chrome Dome, Rocksteady and many more make their return.
Graphics are a 16-bit delight
One of my favorite things about Shredder's Revenge is how well it captures that retro feel. The game is packed with so many references and Easter eggs for fans of the franchise. From the 16-bit style interludes between stages to the original voice actors reprising their roles, it really feels like a love letter to TMNT fans old and new. The game in motion looks splendid, when you unleash a special attack to clear out dozens of enemies at once, it's pixelated perfection.
"The game in motion looks splendid, when you unleash a special attack to clear out dozens of enemies at once, it's pixelated perfection."
The main disadvantage to this, is that I occasionally lost sight of which turtle was mine on screen. If everyone is playing as the turtles, it's bound to happen as they all look similar, especially as this get chaotic.
Vastly expanded combat
The combat in Shredder's Revenge is incredibly satisfying, with each character feeling unique and powerful in their own right. They each come with their own custom animations and unique taunts that reflect their personality traits. The turtles all feel distinct from one another, which is great since you'll be spending a lot of time with each one. The controls are tight and fluid making it easy to pull off combos and special moves.
"The controls are tight and fluid making it easy to pull off combos and special moves."
You can opt to go for broke and just button mash your way through or try to be more strategic by utilizing your environment and pulling off some of the new combo options. The gameplay design really shines here because both new players and more skilled veterans will find a challenge.
Excellent level and sound design
The teams at Dotemu and Tribute Games have done an excellent job with the level design. Each stage is filled with plenty of visual variety, destructible objects, and hidden items to find. There's a good amount of replay value here as you'll want to go back and try to find everything.
The 16-bit soundtrack is absolutely pumping, with remixes of older tracks combined with completely new songs from modern artists.
"The 16-bit soundtrack is absolutely pumping, with remixes of older tracks combined with completely new songs from modern artists."
The original soundtrack is composed by Tee Lopes (Streets of Rage 4: Mr. X Nightmare, Sonic Mania), which features a completely original track written performed by Ghostface Killah and Raekwon, “We Ain't Came To Lose.” It's easily one of the best soundtracks I've heard in a while and it perfectly fits the tone of the game. You can (and really should) check out Ghostface Killah track below:
Along with Ghostface Killah's headliner, you can also check out previews of the rest of soundtrack here.
Mike Patton does a fabulous job with the beloved original theme, and the level compositions sound fantastic. Along with all of this, the original voice actors from the 1987 animated series where brought back to reprise their roles as the Turtles.
"Along with all of this, the original voice actors from the 1987 animated series where brought back to reprise their roles as the Turtles."
Townsend Coleman, Cam Clarke, Barry Gordon and Rob Paulsen all reprised their roles as Michelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello, and Raphael. It's clear that a lot of love and care went into making this game, and it really shows with all these little details added to make the experience the best it can be.
Environmental havoc returns better than ever
Just like the original games, there are environmental hazards you can take advantage of throughout each level. These can be anything from open manhole covers to electrified floors. If you can avoid them, you can lure or throw enemies into them to deal more damage. For example, you can throw an opponent into an electrical box or drop a cluster of spotlights on their head. This helps keep the gameplay feeling fresh as you're constantly looking for new ways to take down enemies.
Final Thoughts on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge
Overall, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge is an excellent beat em' up that fans will absolutely love. The teams at Tribute Games and Dotemu have done an amazing job bringing the franchise back with the care and attention it deserves.
"The teams at Tribute Games and Dotemu have done an amazing job bringing the franchise back with the care and attention it deserves."
The soundtrack, graphics, controls, and combat all come together to create an incredibly enjoyable experience that any fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will love. If you're looking for a fun and challenging beat 'em up game with a retro twist, you can't go wrong with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge PROS
+A love letter to TMNT fans that painstakingly recreates and improves upon on the fun of the arcade and SNES games
+Fun and addictive core gameplay with more dynamic combat and new combos
+Each character plays different to better reflect abilities
+Local and online multiplayer is incredible
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge CONS
-Lack of extra modes hampers replayability
-The story mode is on the short side
-Needs indicators to help denote similar looking characters on screen
Overall Rating: 34/40 (85%)
A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.