Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge Review – Love-Letter Has Dimension X-Factor

The God of Citywide Beatings and Bin Chicken Dinners smiled upon me recently. He arranged it so that I might smash through the entirety of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge in its intended formwith a party, dudes. Crowded around one TV as a six-some, my turtle powered posse and I kicked things up to Gnarly difficulty. Then, we gave the titular Tin Grin absolute shell.

What followed was basically one of the best side-scrolling brawlers I’ve ever experienced. This is high praise coming from an ’80s kid who’s more or less beaten ’em all (up).

TMNT Shredder's Revenge

Anyone familiar with Dotemu’s pedigree won’t be too shell-shocked to hear that the bar of quality has been reset to Turtle Blimp heights in Shredder’s Revenge. This small publisher is known for championing a number of exemplary 2D game remakes. One pertinent example being the studio’s stellar efforts on Streets of Rage 4 (2020) and its dream of a DLC, Mr. X’s Nightmare.

Within Dotemu’s small stable of studios, the collective understanding of the beat ’em up genre is second to none. Their ability to capture the essence of a classic formula while also tastefully ‘roiding it up with clever twists and modern creature comforts is a special technique that few others possess.

Speaking of authenticity, it’s also worth noting this game bears the full endorsement of Nickelodeon, holder of the TV series rights. Any OG who grew up with the first batch of late ’80s Turtles (plus the ’90s films) will recognise the telltale OCD detailings of a bunch of super fans let loose. One gets the unmistakable impression Shredder’s Revenge was a dream project for the team at Tribute Games.

TMNT Shredder's Revenge

There’s no secret to the ooze that’s been smeared all over this. It’s love.

And do you know what represents the extra jellybeans on this pepperoni pizza? All of the original voice actors have returned to quip up a storm as Leo, Raph, Mikey and Don. The other playable charactersSplinter, April and the unlockable Casey Jonesdon’t sound too far off what your crusty old ears remember, too.

In terms of plot and purpose, this is an original adventure which smartly cherry picks and mutates the best moments and mechanics from Konami’s watershed TMNT arcade cabinets. Via a top-down overworld reminiscent of the (vastly inferior) Ultra Games turtle titles, you’ll hop around a super deformed NYC and Dimension X. The basic gist: stop Krang, Shred-head and more or less every major antagonist in the show, from taking a bite out of the Big Apple.

TMNT Shredder's Revenge

To thwart them, you must once again hew through mobs of enemies in an ever rightward push to an end boss, followed by a modest pattern memorisation test. There is of course the odd palate cleanse here and there environmental dangers to dash or leap over, radical hoverboard sections, etc. That said, for the most part you’re here to ruin more Foot than a work experience podiatrist.

On the lowest difficulty in Story Mode, these fisticuffs can be pedestrian enough to let anybody reach the final cutscene within 2 and a half hours. Credits are endless in Story, and your stock of individual lives are generous (and will even reset to “full” for every level attempt). Honestly, smashing through this way is a decent training montage to (mostly) grind your fave characters up for a serious run on Gnarly difficulty. It’s also the best way to tick off the trickier mini-cheevos in each level, which typically ask you to kill a set amount of foes with certain techniques.

Be that as it may, the Finish The Level Without Getting [Hit/Knocked Over By Obstacle X] challenges are clearly aimed at very skillful soloists. Because if you’re playing as a group, one turtle’s screw up is applied to all. I appreciate that the loners have something difficult to shoot for that will require many a restart and likely gobble up additional hours like a Mouser does rodents.

TMNT Shredder's Revenge

When it comes to kicking shell, Shredder’s Revenge clearly has way more depth than the mashy arcade titles that inspired it. However, it’s not quite as layered as the likes of the almost “side-scrolling Street Fighter” complexity of Streets of Rage 4.

The first thing that becomes apparent is the effort Tribute put into making each turtles look and feel unique. With a simple rating system on the character select screen you can quickly gauge who excels in Power, Speed or Range, not to mention who’s a good all-rounder.

Hit the mean streets and you’ll quickly spot a bunch of other nuances for these amphibians. Subtle differences bubble up in their various basic moves—like a flashier jump attack, a swifter evade animation, a faster charging ‘heavy’ attack, or a dash slide that goes farther or trips Foot…uh, feet harder.

TMNT Shredder's Revenge

This individuality bleeds across into the Special attack maneuvers. These Y button techniques grant you momentary invincibility and crowd control benefits, providing you’ve punched your way into earning a full ‘Special Bar’ for their use. Depending on the character selected, some of these might flare out with a greater diameter, last slightly longer or allow you to pivot yourself about, like some sort of roaming sai tornado.

Better yet, a few new special techniques (and more health/lives) can be earned through diligent play. The game tracks each character’s kills across multiple playthroughs, with a modest supply of perks and new mechanics unlocking every 200 murders or so. Max out at 2000, and you’ll be a fully fledged ninja master with 5 lives, a larger HP bar, a trebled Super bar and access to these frankly OP slam dunk and dash Specials.

Oh, and you can earn a Radical state which gives you a bodacious afterglow effect and the ability to deal shellacious damage for a time. It’s very much as advertised.

Marry the above with the ability to grab enemiesthen either smash them into the pavement, hurl them at their mates or “out of the screen” entirely as a one-hit KO – and yeah, Shredder’s Revenge is reasonably complex and tons of fun.

TMNT Shredder's Revenge

While I certainly enjoyed my run through as “no bros” Leonardo, the game shines brightest as a multi affair. In my 4-player and 6-player playthroughs, communication and collaboration were imperative. In the roiling madness of limbs and technicolour explosions you will often need to ask an ally to run interference as you spam Taunt to replenishing your Special bar faster. As you’d imagine, talking smack for two seconds draws serious AI aggro.

The Foot also love to stomp anybody holding LB to revive a fully downed mate. They also interfere when you tap LB to high-five two points of your own life across to a weakened bro. Cool, camaraderie-enhancing mechanics both.

These moments of goodwill and skill elevate Shredder’s Revenge from a good beat ’em up to a great all for one, one for all hoedown. However, that’s purely the local expectation you should have, where everybody is within physical punching distance. Your experience may vary in an online setting where you’re forced to lobby in two distant friends or *shudder* two Internet randos. I predict the needless pizza theft is going to be off the scale.

TMNT Shredder's Revenge

Beyond those infuriating moments, I’m confident Shredder’s Revenge will attract a new generation of fans while also delivering the classic sights and sounds expected of sore eyes. As with all Tribute titles, you’re getting apex level pixel art and animations teeming with references to the wackiest TV ep plots. It’s clear that they’ve mined the toy line figures/vehicles for gold, too.

Soundwise, this is an aural injection of sheer, unadulterated Nineties. We’re talking bodaciously boisterous rock anthems and even the odd ninja rap for good measure (quick props to Wu Tang). That’s all complemented by some satisfying thwack effects, authentic Turtle boy bantz and those triumphant special move shrieks which used to dominate arcade halls and lure in lunch money like a Siren’s song.

TMNT Shredder's Revenge

Even today, Konami’s Ninja Turtles beat ’em ups are revered, replayed and resold in ridiculous numbers as 1UP branded cabinets. With Shredder’s Revenge, Tribute has studied the blueprints of the best titles this genre produced and expanded and improved upon them in every conceivable metric.

Not to turtle wax lyrical, but I reckon you owe it to yourself to have this turtle celebration waiting in your collection for when friends (of any age group) drop by. This has the universal appeal of pizza and can be partially consumed in sixteen ten-minute slices at a time. More likely, you’ll scarf it all in one binge, multiple times. Possibly as you seek all seven endings. Maybe to get your amhibian arses kicked as you chase the Arcade clear on Gnarly that’s harder than a Rock Soldier’s abs.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge is the gaming revamp equivalent of the time Donatello took a perfectly good Volkswagen bus and upcycled it into the high-tech, tubular AF Turtle Van. Hitch a ride, dudes.
4P to 6P co-op is visual madness/tubular fun
Decent challenge and replay opps for soloists
Top notch presentation that's era authentic
Approachable Story Mode, brutal Arcade mode
My kingdom for playable Usagi Yojimbo
Okay length for a beat 'em up campaign. Still, I yearned for more.