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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: DotEmu
Developer: Tribute Games
Release Date: June 16, 2022


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PC Review - 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on June 16, 2022 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge reunites Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Donatello to kick shell in a beautifully realized pixel art world invoking the turtles' classic 1987 design.

Buy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge

One of the all-time great beat-'em-ups is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles In Time. A licensed game based on the 1987 cartoon series of the same name, it was a constantly clever, frequently fun, and darn enjoyable game that thrived on being loyal to the source material while being a darn good game. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge is a spiritual successor. Based on the same cartoon and with lots of callbacks to the previous game and the pre-Michael Bay live action movies, it's utterly shameless in its devotion to slamming the nostalgia buttons of anyone who grew up playing Turtles in Time. The good news is that it isn't just talk. Shredder's Revenge is probably the best TMNT game I've ever played and a strong beat-'em-up.

The turtles are watching TV when they see Shredder and his dastardly Foot Clan are up to no good, and they set out to beat the daylights out of him. The game sticks very close to the cheerful Saturday morning cartoon nature of the original show, with enemies who are all conveniently disposable robots and a variety of characters who I only recognize because I'm sure I had an action figure of them at some point. This may make it a bit inaccessible to younger players who have several decades of TMNT reboots and rebrandings to go on, but they should still be able to enjoy the basics. At the end of the day, it is about four brightly colored turtles armed with ninja weapons so they can fight robots. What kid can't understand that?

True to its roots, Shredder's Revenge is a classic beat-'em-up. The core controls include an attack button, a jump button, a dodge/backflip button, and a special attack button. You can perform different kinds of attacks by combining the various buttons, but most of the combos are straightforward. You can have up to six different players at once, with the game scaling the number and difficulty of enemies based on how many people are playing. This is great for partying up with pals either locally or online, as six-player co-op is available for both.

In addition to your main attacks, you also have special moves that are powered by a Ninja Power meter. When you start the game, the Ninja Power meter has one ranking, and you have one special move, but as your character levels up, they'll unlock more meter and more moves. To fill up the meter, you have to do damage without taking damage, and once you fill up at least one chunk, you keep that chunk until you use it or die. At maximum level, you can spend it on Radical mode, where your character begins glowing and becomes significantly faster and more powerful for a short period of time.

Much like Streets of Rage 4, the special meters in Shredder's Revenge are designed to be part of the basic gameplay, rather than an emergency tool. It's easy to fill them up, they do tons of damage, and they can clear out huge crowds of enemies. They're a bit more friendly to the player, since there's no HP cost to use them, so they can be used freely. The game makes up for this by putting a lot more enemies on-screen at once, but on the game's Normal difficulty, you'll still have a ton of killing power available. One weird element is that the game has a taunt button that allows you to instantly gain a chunk of meter if it works, and this taunt even works outside of combat, so assuming you're willing to waste a couple of seconds between each fight, you can always go in with a full meter.

The characters are not quite as distinctive as they were in Streets of Rage 4, but they still have a lot of personality and flair, so it's vital to choose your favorite turtle (or non-turtle). In addition to the four teenagers with attitude, you also can play as April, Splinter, or once the game is finished, Casey Jones. Each character has their own stats and general build. April is fast, Donatello has long range, Casey Jones is a powerhouse, and so on. It's genuinely neat to get the chance to play the supporting cast, who are just as combat-capable as the turtles themselves.

What makes the game fun is how well it combines all of these elements. The fights are buttery smooth and capture the feel of playing an old-school beat-'em-up without having some of the quarter-eating unfairness. The dodge button is a huge boon. You can use it mid-combo to interrupt and backflip out of the way of damage (with generous iframes) and then seamlessly transition from that to an attack that puts you back in the middle of combat. It means that even in the middle of frantic melees, you have a sense of control and freedom that wasn't there in the older games.

This means the game as a whole is somewhat easier than the classic on which it's based. Part of this is that it's friendlier, with more health items and squishier foes. Part of it is that having actual combos, juggling and dodge-cancels mean that there is a lot more room for skillful play. If you play on the default difficulty, you'll probably have an easy time with the game alone or with friends. It's still fun, though.

The default mode for Shredder's Revenge is Story mode, with each stage divided into locations on a world map you visit. Finish a stage, and you unlock the next one, and you can change characters and replay stages at will. There are several cameo characters who appear in the stages and request you find various collectibles to earn bonus experience to level up your character faster. The leveling system is more akin to gradually gaining access to more moves as you play, rather than anything you need to grind out.

If you'd prefer something more classic, the Arcade mode offers that. It's functionally the same concept, except you go through each stage consecutively, with limited lives and no saving. This is probably where the bulk of your time will be spent, as the limitations of Arcade mode help the gameplay shine. The Story mode is a good way for casual players or younger gamers to get a feel for the title, but it's too easy to brute-force the entire experience.

Shredder's Revenge is a delight for the eyes. The cartoony sprite graphics do a phenomenal job of evoking the Turtles in Time era of gaming, while adding lots of wonderful extra touches. The entire game is brimming with fun little touches. Almost every screen has some silly thing or joke, such as the Foot Clan doing everything from working in an office to eating ice cream before they throw themselves at your lovingly animated turtles.

The soundtrack is also excellent, embracing the cheese with fast-paced tunes and genuinely hilariously rap themes for several of the big bosses. If I had one minor complaint, it is that the original voice actors returning for their roles is a bit of a mixed bag. It's a pleasant dose of nostalgia, but there are several times when I was drawn out of things by how shockingly old they sounded.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge is exactly the game it promised to be: a heartfelt, funny, clever and incredibly fun tribute to a classic beat-'em-up and the cartoon on which it was based. The old-fashioned version of the Turtles might seem a bit odd to kids who are used to the more modern versions, but even they should have a ton of fun beating the heck out of the Foot Clan with their favorite of the timeless terrapins. If you feel nostalgia for Turtles in Time, then Shredder's Revenge is made for you, and I'm darn glad it is.

Score: 9.0/10

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