Teenage Mutant Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge Is Arcade Nostalgia At Its Finest

Fans of Konami’s classic brawlers are in for a shell of a good time with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge

Konami’s iconic Ninja Turtles beat-’em-ups were a massive part of my childhood. From the classic coin-ops Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game and Turtles in Time to their various home ports and spin-offs, I probably spent hundreds of hours pummeling the forces of the villainous Foot Clan with Donny, Leo, Mikey, and Raphael. So when Tribute Games and publisher Dotemu announced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge last year, you better believe the shot its way to the top of my list of most anticipated games of 2022.

Lucky for me, I recently had the chance to sit down with Tribute Games’ narrative director Yannik Belzil at PAX East to check out the latest TMNT brawler. And from the few stages of the game I’ve played, it’s clear Shredder’s Revenge is a passion project made by true fans of Konami’s skull-cracking beat-’em-up saga. However, it’s more than just a nostalgic throwback to the days when the arcades were king. Instead, tribute Games have taken the rock-solid foundation those games were known for and honed the mechanics to a katana’s edge to create something both familiar and exciting. Think of how Dotemu, Lizardcube, and Guard Crush Games evolved Sega’s Streets of Rage formula, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Shredder’s Revenge.

 

 

 

Teenage Mutant Turtles: Shredders Revenge allows you to choose from six playable characters: the four Heroes in a Half-shell, Master Splinter, and April O’Neil. While I was admittedly curious about what the two new additions to the roster had to offer, I opted for Leo, as he’s always been my go-to.

I’d recently come off a playthrough of Turtles in Time before making the trip to Boston, and diving into Tribute Games’ love letter to that beloved 16-bit brawler felt like second nature. Everything felt exactly how you’d want it to, from how my hits would send Foot Soldiers flying away before exploding with a satisfying “kaboom!” to how your characters deliver gliding jump kicks to their foes’ faces. Hell, you can even toss your hapless enemies into the camera in true Turtles in Time fashion — though it remains to be seen if you’ll be able to use this technique to bring down any bosses this time around.

 

 

But that’s not to say Shredder’s Revenge doesn’t do anything to spice that familiar formula up. You can now press and hold the attack button to deliver a more powerful strike to flatten your opponents. Each character also has a powerful super attack, similar to Streets of Rage 4’s Star Moves, that can put even the biggest bullies on their backsides—perfect for crowd control.

Rounding out the Turtle’s offensive capabilities are co-op attacks. While you need to work closely with your partner to time them, the payoff is well worth it. For example, suppose both players hit the attack button on either side of an enemy simultaneously. In that case, you’ll deliver what narrative director Belzil dubbed the “Shell Shock,” as both players flatten the hapless goon between their shells. Another fun co-op technique can be performed by pressing the attack button as your jump-kicking ally connects with you. Time it right, and you’ll toss them like a giant, amphibious Hadouken that will obliterate anything in its path.

In addition to these attacks, Shredder’s Revenge also features an evade ability, further fleshing out the brawler’s mechanics. Being able to deftly dodge your enemies’ attacks at the touch of a button sounds like a little thing nowadays, of course. However, if you ever played the classic TMNT beat-’em-ups that were chock-full of cheap hits, then I’m sure you’ll be able to appreciate this new defensive capability Tribute Games brings to the table.

 

 

Of course, you can’t have a good beat-’em-up without plenty of power-ups to nab. As you’d expect, pizzas are perfect for replenishing your turtles’ health. There’s even a party pizza that can heal all four players once picked up. Other pizzas must pack some crazy toppings. Because instead of replenishing your health, they do things like give you a brief period where you can unleash your special moves non-stop, turning your shelled warrior into a veritable force of destruction.

When it comes to its presentation, the game is top-notch. From the detailed character sprites to the vibrant colors that pop off the screen, Shredder’s Revenge looks like a cartoon brought to life. But, perhaps my favorite part was just how much is happening in the background. For example, the first stage in the preview build took place in Channel 6’s TV studio. As we fought our way through a fitness program’s set, Foot Soldiers practiced their Yoga techniques before jumping into the fray. Then, moving into the kitchen of a cooking show, the goons stirred pots of cake batter frantically before tossing their cookware aside in favor of samurai swords and bo-staffs.

When I remarked on just how alive this made each scene feel, Belzil responded that this was a conscious decision to avoid having enemies approach from left or right like most other beat-’em-ups. And as a result, the action feels much more dynamic. From the two stages I got to experience, this effect certainly seems to be working.

As great as the visuals are, Shredder’s Revenge also features plenty to love on the aural front. The music, filled with pumping melodies brought to life with beefy bass lines and hard-hitting riffs, feels like a loving tribute to Konami Kukeiha Club’s work on TMNT: The Arcade Game and Turtles in Time. Meanwhile, the original voice talents of Townsend Coleman, Barry Gordon, Cam Clarke, and Rob Paulsen have returned to reprise their roles as Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo, and Raphael.

After lumping up a gun-toting Rocksteady, my time with Shredder’s Revenge came to a close. And before I’d even finished shaking Belzil’s hand and thanking him for his time, I was already dying to find out what was next. Thankfully, the two levels. I got to play are just a small slice of what’s in store, as the narrative director told me the final game should feature at least ten stages when it releases. That said, if you’re looking for a brawler meatier than a bowl of turtle soup, Shredder’s Revenge should be a beat-’em-up feast you can savor for quite a while compared to many other games in the genre.

If you couldn’t tell by now, I absolutely loved the time I got to spend with Shredder’s Revenge. It’s the kind of game that would have sent my eight-year-old self into a sugar-addled frenzy. Thankfully, we won’t have to wait too much longer to get our mitts on the full game when it lands on consoles and PC this Summer.

Are you looking forward to giving the Foot the boot with Shredder’s Revenge? If so, be sure to sound off in the comments and let us know.

 

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Frank has been the caffeine-fueled evil overlord of HeyPoorPlayer since 2008. He speaks loudly and carries a big stick to keep the staff of the HPP madhouse in check. A collector of all things that blip and beep, he has an extensive collection of retro consoles and arcade machines crammed into his house. Currently playing: Chorus (XSX), Battlefield 2042 (XSX), Xeno Crisis (Neo Geo)

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