Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge Review

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge Review
When the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles first hit our TV screens I was 1 years old and the series was a far cry from its comic origins. Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird's original 1984 vision was a far darker, grittier piece that was only ever intended as a one-off limited print run. It wasn’t until December 1987 when Laird and Eastman licensed the Turtles to Playmates Toys. With the animated series starting the same year, that TMNT took the world by storm, hurtling rapidly toward the pop culture phenomenon that it became.
It's Turtle Time!
It's Turtle Time!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is a love letter to the early days of Turtles media - the original animated series and the video games that followed. A classic side scrolling beat ‘em up much like its older siblings found in the arcade in 1990 and on the SNES in the form of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles In Time in 1992 - the latter of which is lauded by some as one of the finest examples the genre has to offer.
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Developers Tribute Games knew the reverence the series had in the eyes of gamers worldwide. The care and attention that they poured into every aspect of Shredder’s Revenge is abundantly clear. Leave the game to run on startup and you’ll be met with a recreation of the title credits scene that is only very slightly different from the original found in the animated series. Vocals for this piece were recorded by none other than Mike Patton of Faith No More and Mr Bungle - the grin on my face during this was undeniable and as an opening set piece for the game it works perfectly. There are two modes of gameplay in Shredder’s Revenge: Arcade and Story. Arcade is exactly what you think it is. You try to run through the entire game, after selecting your favorite Turtle/April O’Neil/Splinter, with limited lives and restarts. This mode is for those who want that classic arcade cabinet aesthetic albeit without the added stress of running out of money. The setup of Story mode is exactly the same. You select an option between 3 difficulty levels - chill, okay, and gnarly, select your character, and off you go. You’ll be shown a quick button command tutorial that can be skipped and then be thrown into the game. Broadly the story is that Krang, Bebop and Rocksteady, and Co. have commandeered the Statue of Liberty in order to give it a “makeover.” Starting at the Channel 6 newsroom, the Foot Clan can be seen gathering more and more body parts to reassemble Archie for Krang.

In every one of the 16 stages, a number of collectables and secrets can be found - some of which can open up optional challenges which can be completed during your playthrough. There are VHS tapes, newspapers, diaries, and disgusting bugs. Channel 6 news editor Burne Thompson will give you additional points if you deliver newspapers to him in the overworld, but only if you find him in one of the stages. The overworld deserves a special nod as you traverse from stage to stage through New York City in the Turtles very own Party Wagon. It’s such a nice little touch that instantly brought images of the Party Wagon toy to my mind. Even after 3 decades the imagery holds strong. Another flashback a few levels into the game was brought on by hoverboards, and in the background the Turtle Blimp can be seen bobbing between buildings.
Pick Your Favorite
Pick Your Favorite
One of the game's strong points is the fantastic sprite work. Every character's personality comes out fantastically - be it in Raph’s surly grimace, Donnie’s taunt (where he takes a break from fighting to turn his back on the action and pulls out a Game Boy style handheld), to Mikey’s over-the-top running animation. Characters can interact with each other by high-fiving - which gives an incremental bump to health. However, if you are the one who initiated this then the health comes from your own meter. If one of your party has - for want of a better expression - “died,” a timer will appear giving you 10 seconds to get to them and offer some pizza in order for them to jump back into the fray. Players can also team up for super moves if they are located in the right place at the right time. The further you progress through the game, the more moves you will unlock. Although 90% of the game will see you mashing Y to combo punches and kicks. If you have built up enough stamina, a quick press of X will unleash a special move. The stamina meter can be built up by attacking (and not being hit) or by pressing one of the shoulder buttons which starts an animation you’re locked into - so use carefully.

Where this game really comes alive is the multiplayer - both online, which is cross platform, and local - and can support up to 6 players at once. I played online multiplayer and it was amazing fun. We all had fond memories of TMNT from childhood and it was nice to quiz each other on some of the questions that go hand in hand with being a Turtles fan - mainly who is your favorite and why (Raph, by the way)? Enemies scale for the number of people playing, so the screen can get busy at times. However, if you find yourself getting lost, a quick tap of the back left bumper will flag up your player number. I didn’t get a chance to try it, but I think the real value of this game will be found in couch co-op. Online is great, but nothing quite hits those gaming multiplayer feels as sitting in the same room as your friends and family screaming at each other in both frustration and support.
Heroes In a Half-Of-An-Afternoon
Heroes In a Half-Of-An-Afternoon
The game does have negative points too. For example, I found the difficulty spike between Okay (Normal) and Gnarly (Hard) to be surprisingly large. I don’t think that Gnarly is too difficult, far from it! It’s more that Okay feels like the easy mode and I don’t think it would harm the experience to bump it up a notch or two bearing in mind that there's also a Chill (Easy) difficulty setting. 

Also in certain levels some secrets can be found that have an optional request visible on the overworld map. These messages vanish all too quickly and leave you wondering what it said. On the second point, there is an option to view these additional challenges within a sub menu called the Turtle Lair, but an extra second or two on the initial message would have been appreciated. My playthrough on Okay mode lasted around 2.5 hours, whilst my run on Gnarly topped out at over 4. If you have the time, it certainly is a game that suits playing through in one sitting.
Cowabunguhhhh...Why Aren't You Playing This Already?
Cowabunguhhhh...Why Aren't You Playing This Already?
Overall, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is an absolutely fantastic title that is more than deserving to be held up against classic beat ‘em ups like Turtles In Time and Streets of Rage 2. The game oozes quality and will appeal to long time fans of the series and newcomers alike. The whole thing is backed up by an amazing soundtrack by Tee Lopes (Streets of Rage 4: Mr. X Nightmare & Sonic Mania) that channels the very soul of the original animated series - and has tracks by the aforementioned Mike Patton, and Raekwon & Ghostface Killah from the Wu-Tang Clan. 

If you love TMNT this game is for you.

If you love beat ‘em ups this game is for you.

If you love having a stupid grin on your face this game is for you.

9/10

Available of Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, PC, Xbox and Xbox Game Pass.
 
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