Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is the perfect throwback to those old arcade beam-‘em-up games that I used to throw quarters into over and over again. Everything from how it plays to how the title looks and sounds combines wonderfully with a handful of more modern tweaks that are more than welcome.
Also check out Pierre-Yves’ Sony PlayStation 4 review!
To say that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge makes a great first impression is a bit of an understatement. The slightly remixed take on the familiar theme song (I was a big fan of the Turtles when I was younger, and watched the show and played pretty much any of the games I could get my hands on back in the day) as the characters made me nostalgic from the beginning. From there, you have typical workflow of picking your character with a bit of light narrative before pummeling dozens of baddies on your way to the ultimate showdown with Shredder.
Admittedly, saying that a game looks and sounds like it’s from roughly thirty years ago might not be seen as much of a compliment, but the TMNT games tended to have graphics and music that were better than most of their contemporaries. Also, the actual visual design choices just fit, even in this day and age. Sure, we’re talking pixilated characters, but the vibrant colors and familiar backdrops combined with the sound effects and music in a way that I simply appreciated. As someone who used to play these arcade machines for hours when I was younger, and then later invested in the generally inferior console ports, I enjoyed the throwback atmosphere.
That’s not to say everything is ripped from the 90’s. There is an arcade mode that certainly feels like a faster, more linear challenge, but there’s also a story mode that attempts to freshen things up a bit. Characters earn experience, giving them slightly better stats to work with while fending off hordes of Shredder’s henchmen. That gives you access to an overworld map where you unlock stages and can drive around, attempting and re-attempting them as you see fit. Each stage will have challenges baked in. Some are relatively easy (don’t use a super attack) while others can be far more challenging (don’t take damage all level). Oftentimes there’s hidden items or cameo characters baked in that you uncover by breaking something in the environment.
The environments are some of the best (and most frustrating) aspects of the game. Lots of creative visuals, tons of things to smash (and get smashed by) help to keep the gameplay fresher than a simple left-to-right walk and punch-fest. It helps that combat is as easy to pick up as the old games, focusing on things like rapid attacks, grabs, jumps, jumping attacks and super attacks – but sprinkled in some extra, more modern mechanics like flips, different kinds of throws and special attacks. It’s worth noting that while all of the playable characters (including the one you unlock after beating the story mode) function similarly.
Each character has different stats such as speed, damage and range – and their attacks sometimes work a bit differently too. There’s a notable difference in say, how Leonardo’s jumping spin attack hits things and Michelangelo’s jumping forward swing attack smacks the enemy. If you played Dotemu’s Streets of Rage 4, you have a pretty good idea what to expect here with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge.
This is meant to be a game that you play with others, as you can cram a half-dozen players in for maximum chaos. It’s pretty great, as there’s things you can do to interact with one another, such as revives and joint attacks, and you’re not just simply walking around and smacking enemies solo. It’s a small thing, but it lends itself nicely to the camaraderie that was such an important aspect of the source material.
Probably the biggest quibble that can be leveraged against Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is the amount of content. While the story mode is where I had the most fun, I dipped my toes in the arcade and survival modes. There is not a ton of replay value here. As I mentioned above, there’s a character that can be unlocked and for those who really dig the story mode, you can use and level up the various different characters and try to complete the challenges by revisiting stages you might not have gotten 100% on. However, like those old arcade games of the past, this is not a terribly long game to beat and there’s no variety in how it plays out or the rather lightweight narrative that comes with it.
There were a couple of quests that characters in the story mode can assign you once you find them, but they’re simply fetch quests where you gather X number of Y things and turn them in. As someone who smashed up the entire environment in every stage (with one exception where I missed a sort of sneaky breakable that I didn’t realize was a breakable), I found all of these quest items and hidden characters first try. There are difficulty levels that can be tweaked to make things more challenging, but it’s sort of that artificial harder where things just seem to hit harder and you seem to hit weaker.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is a fantastic throwback brawler with a solid presentation, fun combat and handful of modern additions that provide at least a little more depth than your typical 90’s arcade cabinet. I do wish there was a little more meat on these bones, but the Heroes in a Half Shell are worth going on this nostalgic trip with.Score: 8.5 / 10