Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is a side-scrolling beat ’em up from Tribute Games and Dotemu, the latter of which developed Streets of Rage 4. Shredder’s Revenge draws directly from the classic Konami games and is set in the universe of the ‘80s TMNT cartoon, even going so far as to reunite the original voice cast of the four turtles.
You can take control of the turtles, their master Splinter, or April O’Neil, with Casey Jones as a later unlockable character. The group springs into action after witnessing the Foot Clan and longtime nemesis Shredder hijack the Channel 6 news broadcast. For some reason, the separated pieces of the villainous Krang’s mech suit are stashed in various locations throughout the city, and the turtles must now chase down the Foot to stop them from reassembling it.
The story is ultimately nonsense, even by the silly standards of the original 1987 series. The turtles chase the same goons from level to level and run into unrelated villains for boss battles at their conclusions. Many of the boss villains appear to just be in the wrong place at the wrong time when your group shows up and starts whaling on them, as they otherwise have nothing to do with Shredder’s ambitions.
The game banks heavily on players remembering all of these ancillary TMNT characters, as there’s no dialogue that goes into who each of them is. The same goes for friendly characters that offer up side objectives to find hidden collectables. I would have loved to be reminded of the Punk Frogs’ origins or learn who the Neutrinos even are. These minor cameos sent me down a YouTube rabbit hole when I’d have much preferred the game made their history and inclusion matter.
Despite that, the feel of early ‘90s arcade magic is captured perfectly. The pixel art is bright and true to the ‘80s look without appearing dated. Combat is fast, fluid, and easy to pick up. Every character has quick combos, dashing and jumping attacks, throws, and area-clearing special moves. Attacking enemies will fill your special meter, but if you can find a spare moment to taunt, you can add a full bar for free, which comes in handy when dealing with some later encounters.
I only wish the cast of fighters had a bit more to differentiate their styles. Each character has unique animations for their move sets, but aside from a handful of attacks, they all function quite similarly. It’s undoubtedly fun, but each character levels up individually and gains a few additional attacks and stat boosts as you play with them. That means you’ll be replaying stages with each one if you want them all maxed out but will be getting largely the same experience each time.
The levels themselves are quite distinct from one another and offer up unique traps and set pieces that invoke some of my favorite moments from the classic games, like tossing Foot soldiers into the screen to damage an enemy or fighting on flying hoverboards. Completing the game’s 16 episodes took roughly 4 hours, but it is a game meant to be replayed and perfected alongside friends. An arcade mode provides an online leaderboard and co-op with up to six players may alleviate any sense of grind, along with level-specific challenges and different story endings to unlock. So there is some incentive to go back through levels.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is an amazing throwback to beat ‘em ups of the ‘90s. It captures the look, sound, and feel of those classic games as they exist in my rose-tinted memory. But the minor new additions like leveling and side quests don’t make the experience feel that much deeper than what those original games had on offer. The game is out June 16 for $24.99 on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and will be included in Xbox Game Pass.
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