The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made their perfect foray into video games through the cooperative Beat ‘Em Up. Titles like 1989’s arcade game and Turtle in Time let fans fantasize about kicking shell with their friends, but it’s been a long time since our green hero was the star of a great video game. Shredder’s Revenge ends that drought, serving as a lovingly crafted tribute to TMNT’s glory days, giving fans what they mostly remember when sanding down rough edges.
Schrader and his Foot Clan have fled amok in New York City and beyond, and it is up to the Turtles, along with Master Splinter, April O’Neill, and an unlockable Casey Jones, to stop them. Six players team up through more than a dozen colorful, detailed stages in an adventure inspired by the classic 1987 cartoon. While Revenge of the Shredders may appeal to any generation of TMNT fans who grew up in the ’80s and early ’90s, they will best appreciate that Tribute Games’ honor for that series has been given to everyone. How to get out of pixelated brick.
I’m one of those fans who discovered TMNT during this golden age, so I couldn’t stop smiling as I recognized the Easter egg and encountered a terrifying enemy or friendly face I’ve long forgotten about went. The cuts are deep in Shredder’s Revenge—a villain appearing only once in the cartoon—with diehard players serving well-executed fans. Listening to the original sound brings the Turtles to life, adds a nostalgic cherry on top of the package and a wonderfully retro-inspired soundtrack ranks among my favorites of the year.
Shredder’s Revenge doesn’t try to beat them. Rather, Tribute Games refined the old-school blueprint. You still massively mash a single attack button to execute simple combos, but adding aerial, running, and various special attacks together enough to keep it from feeling completely one-note Depth is found. I especially like to use the dodge/recovery button to set off attacks, bypass defenses, or quickly return to the ground when shot down. Sending enemies to the screen border, airing them long after they’ve been defeated, and tossing them across the screen adds more layers of mindless fun. However, fighting flying enemies is less enjoyable as it is difficult to trace which aircraft they occupy. Missing multiple jump kicks only to explode in response bothered me like no tomorrow.
Even with six players and hordes of enemies on screen, Shredder’s Revenge runs like a dream. Any piece of strategy goes out the window with half a dozen dudes swinging ninja weapons at once, but it offers its own chaotic brand of entertainment. Sure, losing yourself in a sea of digital humanity is often and can be a little depressing, but the joy of laughing and being happy with so many friends lessens that irritation.
Each character sports individual traits, such as reach, attack, and speed, that make one feel superior to the other without making them sufficiently different. For example, Leonardo is the all-rounder, Donatello has the longest reach, Raphael and Splinter hit the hardest, while Michelangelo and April run the fastest, with variations between. You can’t go wrong even if someone claims to be your favourite. Although I will always be Donatello’s rep, I had a great time getting used to all.
In addition to a standard arcade mode, a story mode offers an objective-based version. Instead of tackling stages one after the other, players travel between them on a world map, meaning you can replay them. This is because the levels have simple objectives such as avoiding damage throughout the mission or carrying out one type of attack multiple times. Completing quest rewards points for leveling up characters, unlocking new abilities (which are available by default in the arcade), or adding more health points and other stat buffs.
I appreciate how the objectives of Story Mode encouraged me to inspect the stages for collectibles, hidden characters, and traps to use against enemies. I wish the side missions had more variety than “bringing an ally to this batch of collections”. The story mode might not be a huge blow, but it’s a neat twist if you’ve already conquered the arcade.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge gives me what I wanted: a polished, raunchly fun throwback that plays better than the original games remember. Turtles fans new and old will find plenty to love, but those who hold nostalgia for this era of the franchise are in for the biggest treat. Invite some friends, order pizza and prepare to live your childhood in the best possible way.