I was not a big fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon during it’s heyday in the late ’80s to early ’90s. It just came out at a time when the idea of, well, teenage mutant ninja turtles didn’t appeal to me. I was, however, a big fan of arcades as they had a resurgence at around this time thanks to games like Street Fighter II. Besides fighting games, I also loved playing the beat ’em up genre because moving to the right and smashing on enemies is just great fun. One of the best of the bunch definitely has to be the old school Konami Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game as well as its sequel, Turtles in Time.
So when Tribute Games showed the first trailer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, I was stoked. It wasn’t a modern looking game using hi-tech polygon models nor did the game use the new looks the Turtles got when Nickelodeon obtain the license. Nope, the game pays homage to the more cheesy and, in my opinion, more iconic looking Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles of old.
But now that I gotten my hands on the game, what do I actually think of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge? Will I ignore it heavily like I did the original cartoon series or will I love it like the old arcade game? Well, I’m happy to say it’s the latter. I think Shredder’s Revenge is a cut above a lot of other arcade beat ’em ups out there in the market.
First off, I really love the art style. Like I said, the game pays homage to old school arcade brawlers, which means it uses pixel art sprites instead of full-blown 3D models. This really gives Shredder’s Revenge a retro feel. However, a lot of attention was made to everything in the game. The characters mostly look like they did in the cartoon. There are a few characters, like Splinter and April O’Neil, who do look a little off because the game also has more of an anime aesthetic to it. They’re still very recognizable and these new models to blend in well with the game’s overall look. But it does take some getting used to, especially if you’re expecting them to look more like the cartoon.
Shredder’s Revenge’s sound design is also top notch. A lot of the background music is really well done and catchy enough so they don’t feel repetitive. They’re all fun little ditties but I can’t say they’re not incredibly memorable as, for the life of me, I can’t recall how any of them sound if I’m not playing the game itself. There are also a few vocal tracks which are really fun but it’s hard to actually concentrate on the lyrics with all the action going around. I also do love how they got most of the original voice actors to reprise their roles. There are definitely some soundalikes and they do kind of stick out like sore thumbs. This is especially true for April O’Neil as the new voice actress just doesn’t have the weird cracking the original used in the cartoon. It’s not a really big deal but, once again, it is a little distracting at the start.
I say these little gaffes don’t really matter in the long run because Shredder’s Revenge is simply a dream to play. Although it can be played like a simple button masher, the developers did put a lot of effort to modernize the beat ’em up genre here as they’ve added a lot of quality of life changes to what was a more simplistic button masher. You still can rush through opponents using the same general combo attack and jump kicks like in the original game. However, there are a whole lot more techniques in your arsenal now. Each character has a kind of anti-air attack, a power attack, a dodge, a dodging attack, a charging strike, a running slide kick and a variety of body slams, just to name a few. You actually need to familiarize yourself with each move to get the most out of the game as each enemy will be weak against one of these particular attacks. Like I said, you can power through the game with just the normal attack combo and jump attack. But it’s just a whole lot more fun to use each individual special move when you know its going to be super effective against a particular enemy.
What’s even more amazing is, even though each of your characters do generally have the same attack and move set, they execute the move with a slight difference, making each of them unique in their own right. For example, Michelangelo’s jump kick actually has him bounce off the opponent’s head, making it possible to chain jump attacks together. Leonardo’s super jump attack is a super fast spinning slash instead of a slow descending multi-hitting attack like the rest. You can control Raphael somewhat during his Super Attack while Donatello’s Super Attack has a vacuum effect, sucking in enemies during the move. Oh, and it also helps that some of their moves are aping old school fighting game attacks, which gives it plus points in my book.
Shredder’s Revenge is also quite more substantial than the arcade beat ’em ups of yore. Usually, old school arcade games would consist of around 8 levels. Shredder’s Revenge has a whopping 18! That’s a lot and I’m really glad as they run the gamut of locations. Each stage, because of the location, also seem to have some kind of gimmick, making each level come off as fresh and new. Sometimes, you’ll be in the subway system and the sewers, dodging trains. Other times, you’ll be jumping around the building rooftops, trying to avoid falling off the roof. Heck, you might even be avoid random stampedes in the zoo! Yes, they’re all the same obstacles with a different coat of paint to them. But the sheer variety and creativity in them makes it feel different in a way.
There are a couple of ways to play through the game. The first way is the traditional arcade mode. This is the classic way to play the game and, weirdly enough, the more difficult manner to do so. This is because of the limited number of lives and continues you get. Run out of continues and it’s back to the start for you! The other way is the Story mode and it’s the much more relaxing way to go through the game. In Story mode, you can actually level up your character, which gives them a little boost in health, extra stocks of Super attack and even different kinds of Super attacks. Also, if you run out of lives, you’re just booted out of the level and you’re free to repeat it as many times as you want.
They did try to add things to the Story mode with challenges and collectibles. These actually come off as rather distracting than immersive. This is because they don’t really add all that much to the experience. There are some challenges, such as not getting damage throughout the level or using traps to take out a specific number of opponents. When it comes to the collectibles, you basically have to find and locate people and object littered throughout the level. That’s fine and all but the rewards are hardly substantial. I don’t really think you gain anything from completing the challenges except for bragging rights. When you do get a set of collectibles, all you get is a bunch of points for it. Maybe if the rewards were more substantial, like unlocking new colors or changing certain attack animations or even unlocking something like a bonus gallery. But points? It’s just very lame. Because of this, these feel a little shoehorned in.
I also have an issue with the jump in difficulty between Okay and Gnarly, the normal and hardest difficulties. It’s seems very easy to breeze through the game on the Okay setting but Gnarly ramps it up really hard. However, the Gnarly difficulty is only really problematic if you’re playing solo. If you’re playing with a friend or more people, it’s actually a whole lot of fun. Sure, the game does throw more enemies on the screen and they do hit harder and take a little more damage. But because you have someone watching your six and you watching theirs, it much more bearable. Add to the fact you can also share life and even revive fallen comrades when there are 2 or more players on the field, it’s actually possible to make it through even the most difficult stage without losing a life now.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is definitely a super fun party beat ’em up game. Even though it does have multiplayer in mind, playing it solo is still also quite fun but nothing really beats the feeling of taking our a horde of Foot Soldiers or any of the bosses with a pal at your side. The game is a blast to play and something you really have to try out.
Have you played Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge? What did you think of the game? Let me know in the comments section below!