Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is the TMNT game we’ve been waiting for.
There are those of us of a certain age where arcade beat’em ups were the epitome of gaming. These games, even though designed to suck the quarters of our hard-earned allowances, were the greatest achievements in gaming. Players would be able to control their favorite characters from their favorite franchises and beat up hordes of bad guys as they side-scrolled, occasionally up-and-down-scrolled, and vertical-scrolled in the elites, through recognizable locations from the series. This would ultimately lead to a boss fight at every level, and a final showdown against the main villain at the end. Plus, you got to play it with your friends!
There are plenty of greats in this arcade beat’em up category, but the king by popular vote is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade Games. In reality, there were two mainstays of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade games. The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade, originally released in 1989 by Konami, is the first great co-op arcade beat’em up. Sure there were games like Gauntlet and Double Dragon, but the TMNT game had 4 players and didn’t consistently drain your HP when nothing was attacking you. It paved the way for many other great beat’em ups in the Arcade and on consoles until Konami topped themselves on both with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time.
There have been many TMNT games since, and though the Gamecube games based on the 2003 series are serviceable, they never quite captured the magic of Turtles in Time. And while there has been great co-operative beat’em up games, since, there tend to be more disappointments. A lot of the time, the games tend to rely too much on technology, and not on the gameplay. They’ll over-invest in the visuals and story, but skimp out on the mechanics of the game. There is a certain feeling the game needs that has to reflect and match the character you’re controlling. If you’re an elemental god, you should feel like one.
Thankfully, Tribute Games and Dotemu completely understand and have reincarnated the magic that captured generations of gamers. Together, they have delivered to the world Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge. Spoiler for the rest of the review, this is currently the best arcade beat’em up game available (soon to be if you’re reading this the day it was published).
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge Is The Next Season of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge basically picks up where the original animated series ends. Shredder’s goons Bebop and Rocksteady are planning a nefarious plot where they take over all of television by capturing the Channel 6 News Station. How one station would take over all of the others is beyond me, but it is so perfectly 80’s/90’s villain plot that the logic loopholes only make you love it even more! Then you discover that Bebop has found Krang’s head and that the taking over TV programming was just the first part of a much larger plan.
I don’t want to give much away, as the story is a big part, and as it is an arcade beat’em up, it is a straightforward story. It plays out like a great season arc. It is wholeheartedly and thoroughly a story that would be part of the original animated series. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge could be Season 11. However, the use of their weapons and badassery of April O’Neil would likely mean it is after the 1987 Turtles meeting of the 2003 and 2012 reincarnations. They are less goofy, more capable, and able to actually use their weapons.
Players familiar with the original arcade beat’em up will recognize the classic style of in-game storytelling that plays out almost like an interactive comic book. There isn’t much dialogue, and the cutscenes aren’t long-form animated. But something about it lets players seem like they are in control of getting to point A to point B which feels different despite being on a railroad track. The path is the same every time, but the journey always feels different. This is how a person and their cousin could beat Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time over 100 times over a weekend and that same person to beat the game three times before writing his review.
Flawless Capturing and Modernization of the Beat’em Up Genre
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is shella fun to play. It has the basic necessities of arcade beat’em up down to polished perfection. Plus the right upgrades that would never have been imagined because it would have eaten fewer quarters, like a dodging system. There are attacks for all your ways of movement, there are alternate ways of attacking, and then you have various special moves, and even a super special. It is absolute perfection.
Combined with the way players interact with each other, and the environment. It is Beat’em Up heaven! Pulling off long combos, deliberate uses of your special attacks, and varying charged attacks and combos, is ridiculous amounts of fun. If you look at the controls and move list objectively, it is basic. But the fluidity and combo potential, in conjunction with the animation, just takes it to an entirely new level! It is an experience classic gamers and all TMNT fans have to experience.
Dotemu and Tribute Games Has Got the Glow
Dotemu and Tribute Games have created an absolute masterpiece with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge. There are so many little things that they did that elevate what could have easily been just a nostalgia grab. I won’t be able to name them all but I will cover what stood out to me the most. First off, the art, level design, and animation. The world of the 1987 TMNT animated series is brought to life in all its technicolor glory. Each level will remind you of an episode and each tiny cutscene will make you forget your playing a game. It’s like an interactive Season 11.
The detail in every frame you see is mind-blowing. Whether it be the character sprites, the cutscenes, or the levels themselves. You could spend countless hours breaking it all there, finding easter eggs, nods to the series, a toy, or advancement of the game’s story. It delivers much more than it seems like it’s presenting, and it has presented nothing but pure Turtles excellence since it was first announced. Expectations were high, and they were greatly exceeded.
Then there is the way the game feels when you play. Not speaking in a symbolic sense, but a literally physical feel. Players will feel the impact their character has on their enemies which makes pulling off combos insanely intuitive. The feel and control players have over their characters is essentially that of a weapons master. The character feels like a natural extension of yourself. Which allows players to go from standing to ground, to air, in any order fluidly and flawlessly.
Then there are the items. Dotemu and Tribute Games have added the ultimate co-op item to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, the team pizza. There have been many friendships destroyed playing the TMNT games over the decades because a person who does not need the pizza as much as another takes the pizza and restores their health. The drama and tension were especially heightened at arcades when your quarter was on the line. The team pizza restores everyone’s health regardless of who picks it up, and it is one of the kindest creations I can think of.
Lastly, the pineapple on the pizza (I like pineapples on pizza), remote play. We were able to get the squad and all play the one copy of the game remotely through Steam remote play. Being able to experience the game with the team exponentially compounds the enjoyment, and being able to do so off a single license of the game really just embodies how Dotemu and Tribute Games truly understand the spirit of the TMNT, their games, and their mastery of the genre. They just get it, and they are masters at it.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is Thorough Perfection
There is something about these arcade co-op games, that truly embodies the pure joy of gaming. Something that couch co-op does well at and was heightened with the LAN Party, but it is largely lost and frequently made unpleasant with modern online gaming. It is almost like a forgotten art now. Luckily Dotemu and Tribute Games are true artists, worthy of having mutated terrapins named after them. They have recaptured that magic and will reinspire old and new generations with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge reincarnates the pure joy arcade beat’em ups. It is the perfect blend of nostalgia, homage, modernization, and ridiculous amounts of fun. It is a testament to why so many people still love the franchise and love the games that even the most cynical of skeptics would understand. It is also a love letter from teams of fans who obviously love the franchise and are now able to help expand the TMNT legacy. Dotemu and Tribute games have given the world Season 11 of the original 1987 series in video game form. And it is shella fun.
I give Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge a 10/10.
ABOUT TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: SHREDDER’S REVENGE
Release date: June 16, 2022
Developer: Tribute Games
Platforms: Steam, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Game Pass
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge features groundbreaking gameplay rooted in timeless classic brawling mechanics, brought to you by the beat ’em-up experts at Dotemu (Streets of Rage 4) and Tribute Games (part of the studio used to work on Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game and TMNT Game Boy Advance).
Bash your way through gorgeous pixel art environments and slay tons of hellacious enemies with your favorite Turtle, each with his own skills and moves – making each run unique! Choose a fighter, use radical combos to defeat your opponents and experience intense combats loaded with breathtaking action and outrageous ninja abilities. Stay sharp as you face off against Shredder and his faithful Foot Clan alone, or grab your best buds and play with up to four players simultaneously!
Jezzer’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge Video Review
Have you pre-ordered Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge? Who are the five people you’re getting to play the game with you? What toppings do you like on your pizza? Let us know what you think in the comments below and share your reactions to the news with us on Twitter.