Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge
One Shell Of A Time
A very special shoutout goes to Dotemu, Tribute Games, and everyone who worked on TMNT: Shredder's Revenge for giving us the opportunity to review this amazing game. There's a shell-load of content to explore so these are my first impressions of this fine beat-em-up. Please look forward to a fully-blown shell-shocked review in the near future! What I can say is, when it comes to the "most anticipated title in 2022," my personal answer was always TMNT: Shredder's Revenge for a multitude of reasons.
Ever since it was announced, the gameplay trailers previewed a title that reminded me of a passion project. With character expressions, colorful visuals, and personality that captured the hit 90s comic-cartoon series, I knew there was a special game brewing. PAX East would be the first time I'd have a hands-on experience with the 2D brawler and all of my expectations weren't just met, but they skyrocketed to the skyscrapers of Channel 6 and beyond.
"Pizza Time" Long Before Spider-Man Brought It To The Big Screen
While most titles attempt to capture the "spirit" of 90s gaming yet Tribute Games went above and beyond. They brought the charm of the arcade with a modern twist, accessible for gamers of all skill levels. According to Tribute Games, a key element in Shredder's Revenge development was the late 1980s early 90s era. The arcades, the TV series, and the experience of being a kid during that time period were all influences in creating Shredder's Revenge. Many of its source material was combed through and researched to ensure the perfect homage to a timeless design that transcended over 3 decades is given the proper treatment.
Tribute Games passion for the classic TMNT series is felt from the moment players boot up Shredder's Revenge. A fully animated intro paired with a remix of the original theme song for the 1987 cartoon. The game remains surprisingly faithful to the source material it's based on, including titles such as Turtles In Time. Perhaps the biggest draw to Shredder's Revenge is the ability to play up to six-player co-op like other 80s arcade beat-em-ups at the time. Unfortunately, my experience playing Shredder's Revenge has been a solo one, so far. In the full review, I'll cover the multiplayer aspect with other buddies of mine, but there's much to explore even under single-player mode.
A Day In The Lives Of Crime Fighting Turtles In NYC
There are two main modes in TMNT: Shredder's Revenge, a Story Mode, and an Arcade Mode. The difference between the two is that the Arcade Mode experience is as close to the arcades themselves as possible. There are limited lives, levels must be played in order, and quitting at any time forfeits the player's run. All abilities are unlocked from the start, however, making this mode suitable for those who wish to "pick up and play."
Shredder Revenge's Story Mode is the "large pepperoni with extra cheese" of TMNT. Levels are in sequential order, as shown via a world map similar to Super Mario titles. While players can "fail" a level by losing their lives, the number of lives is replenished after each level, making the experience a fair one. Players can also switch characters at will and with over six characters to choose from, there's bound to be a favorite for each player. There are also RPG elements as players level up, earn abilities, and beneficial stat gains. Players can also engage in side-quests which consist of "find X item hidden underneath destructible environments."
New York City Is Full Of Life, But Isn't It Always?
TMNT: Shredder's Revenge's gameplay is simple to learn with the hidden depths of a fighting game. The latter should come as no surprise if readers remember my reaction to April O'Neil when I played the PAX East build. Mechanics that one would see in a fighting game, including spacing, "footsies," and "anti-airs" exist in this game. At later levels, enemies will attack intricately which requires the player to adjust and take as minimal damage as possible. Obstacles will bar a player's path and it will take quick thinking to avoid them. Shredder's Revenge is generous with its health recovery items as a single pizza box will nurse players to full health.
There are other beneficial power-ups that help aide the player including one that grants infinite meter and even one that causes the player to enter an "infinite super attack" state. Each level has challenges that give beneficial rewards for completing them, encouraging players to take on each level in a different way. One may ask you to use the fling throw a certain number of times while another will require you to not use your super moves. As mentioned earlier, finding hidden items and cameo characters count toward side-quests that also reward the player.
Shredder's Revenge Is A Refreshing Gateway Experience
By the time I reached the third level in Shredder's Revenge, I cracked a smile. Depending on the character chosen, the entirety of the level is spent on skateboards and hoverboards, fighting other enemies on boards. As this is an auto scroller, various hazards and traffic are barrelling toward the player head-on. But the rush of fighting the opposition across highways and bridges, while a catchy rap tune plays in the background, fully captured the impact of TMNT: Shredder's Revenge. Tee Lopes, known for his excellent work in Sonic Mania and the Mr. X Nightmare DLC for Streets of Rage 4, blessed Shredder's Revenge with his amazing talent. Everything comes together and it becomes an experience that sucks you in and doesn't let go.
At this time of writing, I hadn't fully explored all that TMNT: Shredder's Revenge had to offer. However, as far as first impressions go, I've never felt strongly about a game as I had with this one this year. To say it's a "love letter" is underselling it as Tribute Games has written an entire epic poem based on the childhood of experiencing an explosive arcade experience for the first time. For the adults, it makes you feel like a kid pinching quarters again.
The younger generation will appreciate the memorable characters, simple yet addicting gameplay, and the faithful recreation of the 1987 classic. If Shredder's Revenge is meant to serve as a gateway to the historic beat-em-up genre of the 80s and 90s, then Tribute Games have done an incredible job.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge releases on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC on June 16th 2022.