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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge Review (PC, Switch, PS4, Xbox)
~by Rontro (July 2022)
The Beat’Em Up genre has always held a special place in my heart ever since the first time I played Double Dragon from Technos on the NES. What isn’t there to love about punching and kicking your way through a bunch of baddies to save your girl? This genre was really booming in the 80’s and 90’s and just about every video game company had to make their own version of it.
In 1989, Konami would release the very first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video game. It shared few similarities to other Beat’Em Ups of the time, playing more like Zelda 2. It was well received by critics and was a commercial success despite the fans being slightly upset that Konami wasn’t true enough to the source material. For me, it was the Turtles, I didn’t care. It wouldn’t take Konami long to release a second game that same year, but this time, in the arcade. It was here that the TMNT video game franchise would find its true identity that would carry on for years to come.
It’s March 2021 and out of nowhere, a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game was announced. It would be known as Shredder’s Revenge. Right from the first trailer, I knew this would be a game I’d need to play. Sure enough, on June 16th, 2022, release day, I sat and played through the entire game on Twitch live stream. Was it everything that I had hoped for? The answer; it completely shattered my expectations and then some.
Let’s start off with the story of Shredder’s Revenge. It’s very simplistic, just like the games before it. Shredder has returned for revenge against the Ninja Turtles. He has sent his minions to retrieve the pieces of Krang’s robotic suit and keep the Green Machine distracted, while The Foot gives the Statue of Liberty a makeover. Shredder and Krang must have a thing for the Statue of Liberty as it seems to be a part of their evil schemes in most of the TMNT Beat’Em Ups.
In every Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game from the 80’s and 90’s, you only got to play as Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael. Shredder’s Revenge has a total of seven playable characters which include the four brothers, their master Splinter, Channel 6’s number one reporter April O’Neil (don’t tell Vernon) and, after clearing the story mode once, the hockey mask wearing Casey Jones. What makes this even better is the fact that each character plays mostly differently. Not only do they have their own moves, but each has their own set of stats. It really opens this game up for some replayability and keeps the game fresh through each play through.
Speaking of its gameplay, it is absolutely solid throughout. Earlier I mentioned that each character plays mostly differently. What I meant by that is each character’s moves are done with the same button combinations, but some of the moves look different. It’s not quite as in depth as Streets of Rage 4, but slightly more so than games like Scott Pilgrim. What’s even better is that you can play it simply as a button masher if you’d like, but the combat is in depth enough that you could string some attacks together to get the most out of your character.
There are two modes in the game, story and arcade. We’ll start off with the arcade mode since it is the most simplistic of the two. It’s your straight forward arcade style Beat’Em Up; 1 continue, no saves. As for story mode, each stage is played individually, starting with three lives no matter how many you lost the stage before. With each enemy defeated, you gain points that level up your character to earn extra lives, extra health and new moves. There are also side quests to find collectables to give to characters you save, throughout the game. These quests reward your character additional points toward leveling them.
Both modes have three difficulty settings. They are: Chill, Okay and Gnarly. When choosing your difficulty in story mode, keep in mind there is no changing the difficulty after it’s been chosen without starting an entirely new game. All progress will be lost for your side quests and challenges. This is one thing I feel should be fixed in an update, and hopefully they do. As of writing this review though, they have not. Luckily you can choose to keep your character levels.
Each difficulty level does give a significant difference to how hard the game is. Chill is for those that just want to kick back, relax, and really want to take the time to appreciate each of the backgrounds. Okay is for the player who has had some experience with Beat’Em Ups in the past and can still be beat fairly easily on your own.
Gnarly, however, is a beast all its own. You may want to bring a friend along to help, even if you’re using easy mode April. There’s more enemies and they’re tankier. Do your best to avoid being hit as each punch and kick is like being run down by a Mack truck. Each boss in the game is an absolute blast to fight against. Some are quite easy, only requiring you to dodge their attacks then button mash them into oblivion. Other bosses actually make you learn some mechanics and earn the damage you do to them.
Multi-player is where this game really shines. TMNT supports up to four player couch co-op and six online. The more players on screen means more of the Foot Clan Shredder sends at you. It can be a bit chaotic, but it’s an absolute joy. I was pleasantly surprised to see how well the game continued to run, even in a six player online game. There were little to no frame drops and the connection was great, until my internet dipped and kicked me from the game.
If I had one complaint about the gameplay, it would be stage variety. There are only two stage types. You have your basic left to right style stages typical of all Beat’Em Ups. Then you have auto scrolling stages where you’re on a hoverboard, much like the Sewer Surfing stage of Turtles in Time. Honestly though, it doesn’t really hurt the overall package. I’m just struggling to find something bad to say about this game.
What can be said about the graphics of this game? I was honestly surprised that DotEmu went with pixel graphics after seeing what they did with Streets of Rage 4. This wasn’t a bad thing by any means. The pixel art is absolutely gorgeous in Shredder’s Revenge. The sprite’s animation is quite smooth, from the Turtles, to the larger bosses and even something as small as the mechanical headache, the mousers. They didn’t take any shortcuts. The pixel art of each stage is just as amazing. Every location is recognizable be it from the cartoon or another Turtles game. No two levels look alike and they never overstay their welcome. Some stages even have a few surprises for those who really take the time to admire each of the backgrounds.
One of the things I loved the most about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games in the past was the music. This game is no exception. Unfortunately, only a few tracks feel like they could fit in the past games. Most of the tracks feel like a strange mix of Turtles in Time and Sonic Mania. It really makes sense though, since most of the tracks were done by Sonic Mania’s composer, Tee Lopez. The music, however, is still a real strong point for this game.
If you really pay attention to the music, you can occasionally catch references to music from the original show. They even have a few tracks with lyrics done by some big names. The theme music at the opening of the game was sung by Faith No More’s front man, Mike Patton. It’s an amazing cover that is heard while watching a beautiful animation sequence. Also, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang Clan contributed to the soundtrack with the track ‘We Ain’t Came to Lose’.
What is there negative to say about Shredder’s Revenge? Not a whole lot in my opinion. It could be slightly more complex, but it doesn’t need to be. The difficulty could be ramped up a bit, but I’m glad the game is fairly accessible for fans of all ages. It would also be cool if we wouldn’t lose our challenge progress and collectables with a new Story Mode game. Truthfully though, at this point, I’m just splitting hairs to find something bad to say about this game.
Overall, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is a great package and was worth the price of admission. It looks, sounds and plays great. I highly suggest this game if you’re a huge Beat’Em Up or Ninja Turtles fan. If you’re looking for a new game for you and your family and friends to enjoy together, this is the perfect party game. If you’d like to add this to your collection, it’s available for Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One and Windows/Linux PC digitally for $24.99. A physical copy is set to release on August 31st, 2022 with the price tag of $34.99.