GAME REVIEW: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge

Release Date: June 16, 2022

Developer: Tribute Games

Publisher: Dotemu

Platform: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC, Steam

Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch

Genre: Beat ’em Up, Adventure

Growing up as an ’80s kid, there were two things that filled me with joy and made my childhood awesome: playing video games and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. To say that I was a fan of the franchise is definitely an understatement, and it seems like the people of Dotemu and Tribute Games share that sentiment. These guys got the green (like our heroes’ shells) light to dedicate time and energy developing a wonderful throwback. They’ve made a loving tribute to the days when four friends could grab a cheap slice of pizza and head to the arcade. Even if you missed the ’90s, you’ll easily catch that feeling as you guide the heroes in a half shell through the streets to duke it out with the Foot Clan. Let’s take a look at the brand new and highly anticipated game, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge.

Plot Synopsis

Like any TMNT game, a simple story unfolds as the turtles are watching TV at home. Breaking news: Shredder and Krang are up to no good again! For the second time in a TMNT game, a plot to take over the world is being developed by means of the Statue of Liberty. Thanks to Bebop, for his ace reporting. I appreciate the link to the older games this opening provides. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project had a nice change of pace to that. Sure, they were still watching TV, but at least they got to get away from the sewers and watch it on the beautiful beaches of Florida. Nonetheless, the turtles, April O’Neil, and Master Splinter spring into action.

Visuals

The game’s visuals are heavily inspired by the ’87 cartoon series with a blend of modern pixel art. Thanks to Tribute Games’ skill, even the expressions on each character’s face complement small queues taken from the cartoon and past games. For instance, Raphael’s victory pose is a callback to the intro of the show. Michelangelo’s special attack is also an homage to the intro. And all of the little ways you can interact with the level will remind you of the original arcade games. Fire hydrants can be knocked open, manholes can be fallen into. Even the way a mouser latches onto your arm tracks with Konami’s style.

Screenshot: DotEmu via AOTF

Gameplay

At the beginning, there’s the menu screen with button config, a Dojo that showcases your move list and your achievements. An arcade mode is available, which has you go from stage to stage with a small stock of lives and no continues. After selecting your hero, a tutorial pops up where each character exhibits a skill and how to execute the move; pretty cool stuff. Story mode features a world map where you can navigate between each stage with the party wagon and the turtle blimp. Importantly, Story mode also features progress saving, character swapping, leveling up, and a small handful of side quests.

Each character has their own stats of speed, range, and strength. Out of the turtles, Michelangelo is the fastest, Donatello has the best range, Raphael is the strongest, and Leonardo is the most balanced. April is somewhere near Michelangelo’s stat, wielding her camera and mic. Rounding out the main cast, Splinter seems to have the most minimal weakness. He’s a bit slow, but has Raphael’s strength. They don’t call him Master Splinter for nothing, right?

Screen Shot: DotEmu via Game Informer

During gameplay, your character has a power meter displayed near their life bar that can be filled up to 3 layers when kicking shell. As you progress through story mode, you can level your character up. Each time you do, you gain a bonus such as extending the life bar or unlocking a special skill. There is also a taunt move that you can perform with the right shoulder button. When done at a key moment, your character will gain one layer of the power meter. This move is especially helpful in a tight spot when dealing with a boss.

Pro tip: To get the upper hand on an attacking enemy, use a 2-hit combo, follow it up with a dodge forward. This will allow you to pass through your opponent to the other side and end it with another 2-hit combo. One of my favorite tactics of the game!

Multiplayer

One of the best things about any Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game is the ability to play with a fellow turtle or three. The Konami arcade games and home ports were so cool because you got to have a four-turtle team. Shredder’s Revenge ups the ante, allowing up to six players, which was an amazing surprise! You can join or host a team up by using the “Party up” option on the map screen. The online connection, even on Switch, is perfectly seamless.

Screen Shot (image courtesy of Rock, Paper, Shotgun)

There is a focus on teamwork this time around; any two player characters can perform a team attack automatically by surrounding an enemy. There’s also a boost move called “high five” which allows the player who offers the high five to give a bit of their health bar to a struggling teammate. The accompanying animation of them slapping skin is wonderful. Another great team building move is the ability to revive a teammate when he or she is down during battle. As the player is about to be knocked out, you press and hold the left shoulder. Your character will then offer the injured teammate a delicious-looking slice of pizza while a classic ten-count ticks down. After all, the team that slays together, stays together.

Music and Sound

Everyone knows that beating up baddies isn’t satisfying without jamming to some tunes. The music in this game is phenomenal and blessed with the musical talents of composer Tee Lopes. We also get tracks featuring Mike Patton of Faith No More and Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah and Raekwon. Each level delivers amazing turtle tunes. I sometimes find myself pausing the game just to listen. I hope to get the full soundtrack on vinyl when it releases soon. My only gripe — nitpick, actually — is that I wish some of the voiceover impressions of how classic TMNT characters used to sound had been done better.

Final Score

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

On a final note, between the game mechanics, the robust multiplayer, and the incredible art design and music, everything on offer here has set the stage for a perfect Ninja Turtles game. Every loving detail — the quirky characters, the voice over dialogue, pixel art and animation — was meticulously added to provide a true nostalgia trip while still bringing an old IP into the modern era. Clearly, Dotemu and Tribute Games didn’t just treat Shredder’s Revenge like a job. No, they set out to provide an excellent experience for Ninja Turtles fans everywhere! They’ve shown dedication to creating real art, and have made an outstanding Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game as a result. I love everything about this game. I’m giving Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge 4.5 out of 5 stars. A truly awesome game.

Did you pick up Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge yet? what did you think? Awesome, right? Let us know down at the comments below and check out our Facebook Group and Discord where we talk about all things gaming.

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Featured Image: Dotemu, Tribute Games, Polygon

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