Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Heroes in a half-shell
The classic ‘90s Turtles cartoon theme (albeit a remixed version) blasts on the title screen and will install those nostalgic chills from the minute you boot up Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge.
As an owner of a personalised Kevin Eastman (TMNT co-creator) signed Leonardo figure, reviewing any new Turtles game is simultaneously a joy and a struggle. Is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge worth a look or have the dastardly foot clan finally scored a victory? Hang ten dudes, it’s about to get tubular!
The team over at Tribute Games have created an absolute masterpiece of an arcade title in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge; one that floats somewhere between tribute (pun intended) and modern sequel to the classic TMNT arcade titles.
Across sixteen levels you and the heroes in a half shell need to battle your way across city streets to the depths of the dreaded Technodrome, each coming with an ever increasing challenge and pace. Side quests and collectibles along the way help to spice the formula up from its arcade roots.
From the music that has been superbly crafted and put together, to the arcade stylings complemented by modern elements, Shredder’s Revenge is exactly what you would expect and want it to be. With that said, let’s take a deep dive into what we are looking at.
A few options are presented from the main menu – Story, Arcade, How To Play, Achievements and Options. Most will be self-explanatory to all of you seasoned vets of the beat ‘em up genre
Story mode is the meat of the dish, with three difficulty options (Chill, Okay and Gnarly) and that means there is a challenge here for every player, new and old. Having finished off Story mode and feel the need to dip back in but need something with a little more bite? It’s off to the arcade for you my friend.
Arcade mode gives players a tougher challenge, limited lives, continues and no saved progression. Before you scream “it’s the Dark Souls of beat ‘em ups” let me tell you that back in the arcades of the ‘90s with a bum bag full of coins, this was exactly how the games were played. Tough, brutal, frustrating but oh so addictive, especially with those Ninja boys taking on the Foot Clan. Try this mode out if you feel that the Story – with all its modern quality of life improvements – is just the easy way out.
How To Play on the main menu will walk you through twenty-one different moves and combos, with on-screen demonstrations. These are really helpful to see how each will perform in the heat of battle. The option to look over each move is presented as you start up Story mode so unless you head straight to Arcade my dude, then this section can be revisited at leisure.
Achievements will show you each of the locked and unlocked achievements and provides a handy tracker without having to pause and exit then go into the game card for Shredder’s Revenge achievement progress.
Lastly, Options – pretty much self explanatory and has the usual features such as volume levels, language. Yeah, it’s an options menu.
From the main screen anywhere you can hit the Y button to Party Up with friends. This is great to see as an option on any page of the menus before diving in, as you can team up with friends to take on the evil Foot Clan and their leader Shredder. At the end of each mission (episode) the press Y to party up prompt also appears. The devs really want you to play with friends here, and with up to six players in house, you can battle the minions of the Foot Clan together for a bodacious time!
Right, now we have the basics and layout of the main menus set out, upon firing up Story mode after choosing a difficulty you must choose your hero. Initially you can pick from the likes of Leo, Donnie, Raph, Mikey, Splinter and April! There are spaces for up to six players to join in the fun, meaning you can have one of each character battling together, something which is truly fantastic to see.
Each character plays differently from the others, with different star ratings for range, speed and power. For beginners you may want to test Leonardo out first as his stats are all even making him the jack of all trades, but master of none. Try Leo before moving onto the others and you will get a feel for the game on a first run, rather than diving in with a harder to master character like Donatello, whose focus is range over speed and power.
The enemy variety is great, starting off fighting lowly Foot Clan ninjas all the way up to Technodrome robots and bosses. Each level slowly ramps up the scale from punching bag to absolute tanks in later stages where you really need to up your game and change tactics.
What this all means is that Shredder’s Revenge is a throwback to the arcade TMNT titles of yesteryear, those that adorned every hood arcade back then. Pixel art in the game creates a wonderful tribute to the original games and comes clearly from a place of love and passion over at Tribute Games.
However, if you don’t know your Tempestra from your Captain Zorax then some of the deep cut cameos may go over your head. But, for every Metalhead appearance there is a Bebop and Rocksteady not far behind, so even the most casual TMNT fan can dive in and appreciate the love shown for the franchise.
It’s similar in terms of gameplay and this may be a bit marmite. Casual fans will love it; learning how to jump and mashing the attack button (X) will get you through many a scrap. For the seasoned beat ‘em up vets, whilst the depth in the moves set is present, looking beyond the slick presentation and awesome license, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is more on the basic hit and hope side.
There are also minor “RPG”-like levelling up elements to Shredder’s Revenge. As you progress you can increase your chosen characters’ level and also boost qualities such as HP during battles and finishing levels. I must say though, none of this seems to make a noticeable difference in playing and feels a tad wasted here.
Yet Shredder’s Revenge sets out to be a complete modernisation of a beloved franchise and genre of the 80s/90s, all whilst adding in modern tropes like the levelling system and level saves. It absolutely succeeds in those regards, but can feel a tad overwhelming with the amount of extras added, particularly if it is seen through the eyes of a casual fan.
For us Turtle heads though, the more the better. The deeper the cameo, the harder the high five. It’s tough to recommend for everyone but accessible to all.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a license is strong, but Shredder’s Revenge is an absolute joy and compared to the titles in the upcoming Cowabunga collection feels a bit like making ‘90s Mikey fight ‘00s Raph. Everyone might think they want to see it, but it’s not Mikey that will come out on top.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is available from the Xbox Store