There was a time in the gaming industry when beat-em-ups were all you could talk about. Before the age of first-person shooters, battle royales, and open-world games, beat-em-ups were extremely popular. From 1989 to the mid-90s, many developers were working on this type of game.
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Among those games, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series was insanely popular among the casual audience and arcade veterans. Everyone loved the cartoon series that came out in 1987, which also helped with the games’ success. Popular entries include the 1989 arcade game and the critically acclaimed “Turtles in Time.”
Taking all of that into account, Shredder’s Revenge is an absolute blast from the past. However, this is not your average remake or nostalgia bait cash-grab. Shredder’s Revenge is highly polished, has barrels of fun, and is a perfect game to play with friends.
In a world of buggy releases, post-launch issues, and unfinished games, Shredder’s Revenge is a breath of fresh air.
Vibrant And Modern, Yet Very Nostalgic
It’s easy to assume that most people remember the earliest memories of playing games. That could mean GTA III for some people or Pokemon Red for others. Whatever the case may be, everyone remembers those times as the “good old days.” For a lot of folks, their favorite games are the ones that they played in their childhood.
Of course, this means you are looking at those memories with rose-tinted glasses. Some of those memories you might have could be slightly exaggerated. This is because you might not remember the exact mechanics of the games themselves, but you remember the feeling.
As someone who goes back to older games sometimes, I’m often surprised when I see glaring flaws. Games were more restricted back then because of hardware limitations, among other factors.
I’m saying all of this because Shredder’s Revenge accomplishes a remarkable feat: It plays how you remember beat-em-ups played. The developers addressed the issues of the early games, polished the mechanics, and gave an iconic gaming genre a fresh coat of paint.
It’s one of those games that just puts a smile on your face. Everything about it is enjoyable, from the presentation to the gameplay, especially the animations.
Shredder’s Revenge Nails Its Presentation
Presentation is critical when you’re making a beat-em-up game in 2022. The core audience for these games is those who have fond memories of beat-em-ups. As such, the gameplay is important, but the overall look and feel should be like that of older arcade games.
Tribute Games, the developer behind this title, understood this aspect while creating the game. DotEmu is the publisher of this game, and they are the guys who helped develop and publish Streets Of Rage 4. Suffice it to say, incredible talent was on board, and they know how to nail the presentation.
It’s the type of thing that is easier to experience on your own rather than have somebody else explain it. Everything here, including the menu design, character select screens, static cutscenes, and character animations, just hits you with a good dose of Nostalgia.
If you are a big fan of pixel art and retro games, you will appreciate Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge. Not every game needs to be realistic or graphically intensive to look good, and Shredder’s Revenge is proof of that.
The real highlight here is the character animations. Of course, you can play as the turtles, but also Splinter, April O’Neal, and even Casey Jones. Each character has a different move set, and it is all animated gorgeously.
Every character jumps, moves, and runs in a slightly different style. This gives each character a lot of personalities and immerses you further. Even when things get chaotic, as with beat-em-ups, this game never ceases to look impressive.
Level Design And Progression
Here’s how the game is set up. You can either play the game in campaign mode or arcade mode. The game has 16 stages; you can blast through it in about 2 to 3 hours at the maximum. Of course, this depends on your playstyle, but this is one of those games with high replayability.
Now, with Campaign mode, it’s more of a laidback experience. This is great if you want to experience the game casually. You can upgrade characters, do a few sidequests, and even unlock a new character.
Furthermore, you can go back and play your favorite levels whenever possible. It’s your typical “story mode” experience. You don’t need to worry about character lives, as you can retry to the same level again.
Arcade mode is the real challenge. It perfectly simulates the experience of putting in quarters to play again and again. You don’t need to level up characters, collect objects, or do side missions. It’s all about fighting in this mode. Trying to survive is a better way to put it.
Of course, you need to finish the game in one setting just like with a real arcade machine. As such, you end up going over the story beats quicker and might miss some stuff here or there. However, the challenge is well worth the effort.
It’s All About The Combos
An arcade game is only as good as the combat system behind it. In that case, Shredder’s Revenge excels through and through. The combat system here is mechanically satisfying and ends up clicking with you perfectly.
The basic moves are pretty simple. You have your attack, walk, dodge, and jump buttons. You can hold down the attack button to charge up a heavy attack. As expected, you can also double jump, and pairing that with the dodge feels surprisingly good.
The dodge here is executed quite well. When you press the “B” or Circle button, your turtle of choice will do a backflip. You can avoid an oncoming attack for a few frames during this backflip. If there’s an enemy behind you, go backward and press the “B” or Circle button to hit them with a reverse kick.
Little things like that mesh together quite well. You can make attacks while jumping and chain together a few combos. Once you get into the groove of things, it feels incredibly satisfying. There’s this moment when everything in the game just clicks, and that feels like euphoria.
Chaining together combos in this game will likely bring back childhood memories for a lot of people. It feeds into that lizard part of your brain and hits you with intense dopamine.
Watching that combo counter go up never gets old. Seeing that 100-hit combo is a pleasure that is hard to put into simple words.
There’s even more to it. You can press the taunt button to charge up your special move. You can do this two or three times whenever you need to hit that special move. The special action is executed by pressing the triangle or Y-button.
Each character has a different special move, and there’s a variation where you can do it in the air. When you’re flooded by enemies from all sides, triggering the special move is a great way to clean up the chaos. It also helps in raising your combo counter.
A Perfect Couch Co-Op Experience
Couch co-op gaming was prevalent before online multiplayer took the world by storm. Even then, couch co-op games were successful for some time, thanks to consoles like the Wii and Wii-U promoting those party-style games.
However, couch co-op is an experience that is just very rare these days. As such, it’s weird to see a game in 2022 that explores this age-old experience and nails it perfectly. The gameplay of Shredder’s revenge translates into a perfect party game experience.
This side-scrolling brawler features a local co-op for up to 6 players. This is quite surprising as games with co-op usually have support for 2-4 players at a time. If you can find five friends and five extra controllers, you are in for quite the treat.
I ended up playing this game when a friend was around, and that’s all we did for about two hours in arcade mode. A few days later, we ended up playing with a group of four friends, which was pure chaos in the best way possible.
Even more surprising is that this game was intended with co-op in mind. Don’t get me wrong, the single-player experience is excellent, but playing with a group of friends is just downright better.
This is because you can make moves as a team, spread out, chain combos together, and more. It’s chaos when you’re busy grabbing and throwing bad guys on one side of the screen while a friend dodges for his life.
For that reason alone, this game is worth buying. There are a few funny moments in the game, such as tripping over stuff, falling into gutters, or even getting run over by a stampede of rhinos. Playing with a group of friends makes these moments all the more memorable.
An Impeccable Soundtrack
Throughout the 16 levels in Shredder’s Revenge, it feels like you are playing a remix of some of the iconic levels from the franchise.
Levels like the streets and highways are recognizable from TMNT: The Arcade Game, the subways, and sewers are reminiscent of the Manhattan project, and some of the backdrops look like they belong in Turtles of Time.
There are a handful of levels that are original as well, like the one at the zoo. Every level is charming and endearing in its own right, mainly because of the soundtrack.
Thanks to the high-energy soundtrack, all of the game’s stages spring to life. It fits perfectly with the retro 90s vibe that this game is going for. It features a broad mix of new and original songs along with remixes of tracks from older games.
Some songs are from big names, such as Ghostface Killa or Mega Ran. The songs are mostly a mix of hip-hop with retro beats thrown into the mix. There are even some cheesy rock tunes here and there. The soundtrack fits the game perfectly.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is an excellent game through and through. While it is somewhat short and might lack replayability for some people, it’s an amazing game for the time you put into it. It truly feels like one of those games that everyone can enjoy.
Old Ninja Turtles fans will enjoy fighting the Foot Clan in settings such as Manhattan, Coney Island, city rooftops, and sewers. The gameplay is not groundbreaking or revolutionary, but the animations and core mechanics bring it to life.
Sure, this game benefits a lot from nostalgia. However, it does not rely on that factor alone and tries to do some cool stuff with the soundtrack, level design, humor, and gameplay mechanics. It’s good to see an older franchise return with such strength.
If you’re a fan of TMNT, retro games, or beat-em-ups, you must play this.
Addictive gameplay similar to classic arcade games
Satisfying mechanics with a responsive feel
Awe-inspiring animations and visuals
The campaign feels relatively short
A few levels feel repetitive near the end
Shredder's Revenge Review
Shredder's Revenge could have easily been a nostalgia bait cash-grab. Instead, it's a love letter to the people who grew up loving arcade games and beat-em-ups. This is the best TMNT game in decades. A must-play for fans of the genre.