After getting to try it a few short months ago at PAX, I could tell right away that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge was something special. Little did I know then just how special this game would turn out to be. I won’t cut around the bushes, Shredder’s Revenge is exceptional in every way.
Shredder’s Revenge is a love letter to both classic 2D side-scrolling beat’em ups and the late 80s/early 90s Ninja Turtles cartoon, but with modern conveniences for the new generation of players. This nostalgia trip assaulted old fans of the series like me from every direction, from the returning cast of voice actors reprising their roles as the turtles to the easter eggs scattered throughout the game’s 16 stages, and of course the expertly crafted sprite work. This game really does feel like a true successor to the previous magnum opus of Turtles games, Turtles in Time.
After picking from one of the game’s seven characters, you and up to five other people (either locally or online, no mixing-and-matching) will fight through vibrantly colored robot ninjas, mousey robots, and more on your way to the stage bosses that pull from Turtle’s history. You will be fighting through the streets of New York to Coney Island, in the rat-infested sewers to an alien world ruled by dinosaur men. It’s pure 90s cartoon goodness.
There are two modes of play, Story and Arcade, each with three levels of difficulty you can choose from. Arcade mode keeps things simple, gives your character most abilities to you from the get-go, and has you play through levels one after the other until you reach the end. Story mode incorporates a world map of sorts similar to Super Mario World and up to 10 levels per character, with various buffs and new moves locked behind level requirements, but to make up for it, you are able to replay any of the 16 levels as much as you want. This is important as each stage comes with unique challenges you can complete and special hidden items and characters to discover that will instantly be recognizable to fans of the source material!
What impresses me most about Shredder’s Revenge is how the team at Tribute and Dotemu have managed to make the game so approachable for new and old fans alike. Young kids can easily pick up a controller and mash the buttons to take down the foot clan, while adults can learn combos and try to max out the hit count for their preferred characters. And both can easily happen at the same time in multiplayer.
On the topic of characters, I was surprised by how unique each one feels from one another. Having grown up with the classic NES arcade titles and loving Turtles in Time on SNES, I went into this game expecting each turtle to feel and act basically the same. This isn’t the case here, with attacks having different properties and every turtle or hero having different stats and unique animations to them. Michelangelo was the turtle that saw the most play for me, having fallen in love with spinning rise attack and sick dance moves.
So far, I have played through the Story mode twice, with two different sets of friends on two platforms. I have played through the Arcade mode once with random folks I got paired with, and once by myself. Even with all that, I am still anxious to play more, with other friends, and with a new character. Shredder’s Revenge is the first game that I can think of, that I have no issues with. Not once did I think to myself, “man, I wish they would have done this,” or, “this mechanic could use a little work”.
I don’t believe in the “perfect” game, but Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge has perfectly captured that retro arcade beat-em-up nostalgia trip that the team set out to create. Shredder’s Revenge is exceptional and the quintessential multiplayer experience of the year.