The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were one of the most popular forms of children’s entertainment in the late 1980s and early 1990s after making the transition from a dark, satirical comic book to a revolutionary Saturday morning show in 1987. There have been several Turtles video games, each with varied degrees of success.
Two arcade games came closest to accurately mimicking the look and feel of the shows, with four-player activities that gobbled up coins quicker than the Turtles went through pizza. Tribute Games created Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge as a love letter to the 1987 edition of the Turtles and their early arcade games.
The big issue, therefore, is whether or not the Turtles’ style of play holds up in 2022, or whether it’s as stale as a piece of pizza buried beneath a sofa cushion.
The heroes in a half-shell are watching the Channel 6 news when they recognize Bebop as the new, well-dressed anchor. This means that Rocksteady can’t be too far away, and thus the newest TMNT adventure begins. In order to further their current ploy, Shredder and Krang sent their two mutant idiot minions to Channel 6 to rob them of some nasty new equipment.
What the Foot Clan is planning today, whatever it is, can’t be good, and it appears to include the Statue of Liberty in some way. The Ninja Turtles aren’t renowned for being lenient, so they don’t hesitate to go after Shredder and his evil plan.
The player must choose one of six starting characters before emerging from the sewer to put a halt to Shredder’s vengeance. Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, Michelangelo, Splinter, and April are all playable. Casey Jones, the game’s seventh playable character, is unlocked upon completion. Each persona has a Power, Speed, and Range rating.
Each character plays differently enough from the others that switching between them is enjoyable, yet the game’s controls are straightforward enough that all six players will feel like they have a fair shot at success. Cooperation might take place in person or online.
In TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge, the player controls a character as they navigate over a 2.5D plane, beating down any enemies they encounter along the way. The controls are intuitive and easy to pick up and play, but have been updated just enough to seem modern without sacrificing any of the game’s signature retro charm.
You may conduct a wide range of moves, including jumping strikes, crowd-control Ninja special attacks, and even throwing an opponent through the screen.
The maneuvers themselves are optionally explained on a separate screen. Both an arcade and a story mode are available. The arcade is the original game room. The player assumes control of a single character throughout the game, and that character has a finite number of lives and continues.
Neither your progress nor any of the unlockables from the narrative mode are saved. Classic gamers will like Arcade Mode’s high score submission to a global web leaderboard and the addition of an additional life after scoring 200 points. In arcade mode, you’ll have to restart the game from the beginning each time you want to see whether you can beat it.
You may expect a more modern spin on the TMNT formula in Story Mode. It allows the user to save their game at any time and swap characters between levels. Other additions set this apart from the Arcade Mode. When transitioning between levels, the player may choose any completed level by navigating the Turtle Van to the appropriate position on an overhead world map. In Story Mode, points serve as experience in a light role-playing game setting.
When a Turtle reaches a specific score threshold, he or she will get a reward, such as an additional life, a new move, or more special attack gauge. The Punk Frogs and the Neutrinos, for example, make cameo appearances in several levels, while more hidden content awaits discovery throughout the board.
If you manage to track them down and save them, you may put them on a map. Every one of them is looking for a certain quantity of hidden collectibles and will award the player with experience points if they get them. Despite these new features, Story Mode remains mostly a conventional brawler.
The Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge pays loving homage to the original arcade games with its polished design and gameplay. The team at Tribute Games did an outstanding job at striking the balance between staying true to the spirit of the originals and updating them just enough to feel fresh.
Shredder’s Revenge improved upon what made classic arcade games fun. This new installment pays homage to the original series by including references to iconic scenes like Bebop and Rocksteady’s collision and the Technodrome’s lethal traps. Throws from Turtles in Time, exploding oil barrels, and the chance to return projectile fire on Foot Soldiers are all on hand, as are power pizzas that transform the turtle into a tornado of mayhem.
While none of the TMNT games published in the previous three decades can quite match the experience of playing the original arcade game as a youngster during the series’ heyday, Shredder’s Revenge comes the closest.
Shredder’s Revenge is mindful of the impact of nostalgia on its audience. The pixel art designs are unmistakably a nod to classic video games of the 1990s, while the animation stays faithful to the style of the original program.
The gameplay is also deeply ingrained in that period, and, like many beat ’em ups of the time, it may get tiresome after around two hours.
Since this is the case, the player’s age may be the single most important factor in deciding how impressed they are with the game. Shredder’s Revenge is a top-tier effort at emulating the style of classic arcade games, which will certainly please its core audience, but may turn off players who prefer more contemporary titles.
While still retaining the straightforwardness of classic games, Shredder’s Revenge does a great job of broadening the Turtles’ assault repertoire. The original soundtrack has a variety of new songs, some of which include vocalists like Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang Clan, and new instrumental tunes that would fit right in with a classic Turtles game.
With the help of Mike Patton of Faith No More/Mr. Bungle, the opening animation has been revamped to showcase some of the antagonists who appear as bosses throughout the game.
Finally, some of the original voice actors from the animation have returned to offer their skills to the game, which is sure to be a pleasure for lifelong fans.
As a last thought:
Shredder’s Revenge: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is aimed at a small but dedicated fan base, and it succeeds well. The designers gleaned from the success of classic arcade games from over three decades ago and expanded on that success, resulting in a game that is faithful to the aesthetic of its forebears while yet feeling thoroughly current.
There are many nods to the original games and animation. Vern and Irma, two ancillary characters, have their interactions crafted in a way that seems at home in the 16-bit period. A lot of the appeal of Shredder’s Revenge comes from players’ longing for the classic arcade games of yesteryear.
Even without the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia, the game stands tall as a fantastic example of the old beat ’em up genre on the strength of its gameplay alone.
Overall, I rate Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge a 9 out of 10.
Starting as a freelancer in 2017 while speed running Demon Souls, Greg eventually took a full-time position at Good2Game in 2021, where he serves as Associate Editor. He got his start in the industry making games, and he’s always been interested in the inner workings of games through the modding and speedrunning communities. He enjoys lengthy JRPGs, action survival games, and cooperative sandbox games.