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TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge Review

A fearsome fighting team

Back when I first moved to Australia, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had just taken off as the next big Saturday morning cartoon. Little did eight-year-old me realise, this little adventure of four turtles turned crime fighting super heroes and trained by a rat would become my all time favourite arcade game. The four-player action brawler, developed by Konami, became my go-to cabinet in those early days and remains a title I revisit often. All these years later and the Turtles are still racking up some decent animated hits, but never did I think I’d be reviewing (let alone playing) a brand-new brawler of the original animated series. Yet here we are, and you can’t wipe the smile from my face.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge picks up seamlessly from where the original animated TV series and its subsequent arcade game tie-ins left off. Shredder, Krang and the assortment of goons under their command are out to destroy the Turtles and take over New York once more, and it’s up to the four brothers named after legendary artists to take up their weapons and defend their home. Cue endless waves of bad guys, boss battles of varying degrees of difficulty and levels teaming with traps across a classic 2D, side-scrolling battlefield.

It’s good to have them back

TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge will feel right at home for those, like me, who have fond memories of TMNT: The Arcade Game and TMNT: Turtles in Time. Levels play out as a collection of traditional beat ‘em up areas, a numerous assortment of Foot Soldiers doing their best to slow you down as you make your way across to the eventual boss fight. In that sense, there’s nothing new on display here, no elaborate design choice to shake up the formula. That’s far from an error of judgement however, as the key selling point here is to remind us of how good those original titles were, delivering a well-paced and honourable ode to both the franchise and the genre.

But there are some important distinctions that make this modern iteration of the brawler a more compelling, complete package. Unlike the original titles, here you can choose not only from the four Turtles themselves (Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo, in case you forgot) but also their good friend and crime reporter April O’Neil and father figure, Splinter. These welcome additions to the roster make sense too, both are more than capable of holding their own and are just as important to the mythology of the series as the Turtles themselves.

Special moves are a deal breaker

Each character has a range of moves, both on the ground and in the air. A special move meter ticks up with every hit you land without receiving any damage, allowing you to pull off an area clearing attack once full (you can also use the taunt button to instantly fill the meter up, though it leaves you open to attack). Every character has its advantages and disadvantages, though it isn’t always noticeable when the action heats up. I stuck with Donatello and Mikey for the most part, with Don being a solid ranged fighter with his bo staff and Mikey the quickest of the four main heroes, zipping around the field.

Of course, with more characters means new opportunities, and developers Tribute Games have upped the ante by including an option for up to six players to work together on screen. If you thought four turtles flying around amongst a bunch of broken Foot Soldier parts was too much, you’re going to have a manic time keeping up with what’s happening on screen with all six party members laying into Shredder’s minions. It can be a little confusing, but it’s ridiculously entertaining all the same.

Arcade mode will be the main attraction point for fans of the series, a hard-nosed fight with limited lives and even more limited continues, and absolutely zero save states. Just like old times, really. Story mode, meanwhile, delivers a slightly different take on the same number of levels, allowing you to level up characters, unlock hidden items and cameo appearances from secret allies and explore an overworld map to move back and forth between each level at your own pace. It’s a nice touch, being an easier in for the younger crowd or those not used to the difficulty spike arcade mode provides, and delivering just enough added content for experienced players to explore after wiping Shredder out in the traditional way.

The boss baby all grown up

Beyond that, all versions of the game across the many platforms available support local co-op multiplayer for up to six players (though it should be noted, PlayStation fans are limited to four player local due to system capabilities), and a rather robust slate of online features for arcade mode. You can create your own lobby, private or public, and have random players join your progress at any time as if someone had just rocked up to the arcade cabinet. You can also do the same, with any public players listed along with how many players are currently involved in their session. Of what I played, lag was barely noticeable and the only issues came with some strange reactions from enemy AI. At one point, I had a Foot Soldier stuck to my character for a good minute or so. In another, the boss barely moved or attacked, allowing our team of four players to wipe him out without any fuss.

None of those little bugs got in the way of the enjoyment of it all, and thankfully voice chat is turned off by default, so you won’t have angry children blasting you if you use your special move too soon. Which I did, far too often. Local multiplayer will no doubt be a bigger selling point, if you have enough controllers to support it, but it’s nice to know that you can log in, play a few rounds online at any time and still get a fun run or two in the process. Minimal lag is a blessing for a brawler that requires precise timing on the dodge button, but hopefully those little AI glitches will be ironed out over time too.

April holds her own quite nicely

There were a few sour points that stuck under my shell, namely the amount of times I heard a Turtle shout like a Power Ranger or quip a line over and over. It got a little grating after a while, but once you zone out it doesn’t matter too much. Also, and it was a similar issue way back when, any levels that require zooming along on a hoverboard never quite meet the enjoyment of the other levels, especially when you double jump to attack constantly just to reach an enemy up high. It’s just way more satisfying fight on land.

Final Thoughts

It could have been so easy to just settle on being an homage, something previous attempts at recapturing the greats tried to do (and mostly failed in the process). But credit to the team at Tribute Games, who not only put all their passion for the original arcade classic on full display but went above and beyond to really make this an adventure that fans will lap up. From references across the spectrum of the TMNT franchise, to little touches of animation that allow each Turtle to have a unique look and feel, all the things you would hope for are here. But then you get all four original Turtle voice actors reprising their roles and full rap tracks by the likes of Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah amongst a cracking musical score. It really is the perfect Ninja Turtles game and I couldn’t be happier.

Reviewed on PC // Review code supplied by publisher

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TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge Review
Party time dudes!
It still amazes me that TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge is real, but the eight-year-old within me is incredibly glad it is. Reliving the classic arcade games with a whole new lens made me smile from ear to ear, but newcomers and youngsters alike should find Story Mode a good way to introduce themselves to the wild, brawler antics. It’s a must play, even beyond the wonderful nostalgia factor.
The Good
A perfect recreation of the bedlam of the arcade cabinet original
Controls are tight and responsive, exactly what they need to be
Online and local co-op work a treat
Overall presentation is a Turtle fan’s dream
Story mode a good in for newcomers
The Bad
Some weird (yet amusing) online bugs
Arcade mode will be a challenge for those not used to it
A little light on content overall
9
Bloody Ripper
  • Tribute Games
  • Dotemu
  • PS4 / Xbox One / Switch / PC
  • June 16 2022

TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge Review
Party time dudes!
It still amazes me that TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge is real, but the eight-year-old within me is incredibly glad it is. Reliving the classic arcade games with a whole new lens made me smile from ear to ear, but newcomers and youngsters alike should find Story Mode a good way to introduce themselves to the wild, brawler antics. It’s a must play, even beyond the wonderful nostalgia factor.
The Good
A perfect recreation of the bedlam of the arcade cabinet original
Controls are tight and responsive, exactly what they need to be
Online and local co-op work a treat
Overall presentation is a Turtle fan’s dream
Story mode a good in for newcomers
The Bad
Some weird (yet amusing) online bugs
Arcade mode will be a challenge for those not used to it
A little light on content overall
9
Bloody Ripper
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