There are a lot of franchises with a reputation for high-quality licensed video games, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles may be one of the most consistent – at least, back in the 80s and 90s, anyway. For the most part, the TMNT video games took a major dip in quality, especially when Ubisoft got the rights to the franchise after Konami lost it. The franchise has died down for the most part, but in 2022, we finally got a new 2D beat ’em up game. But, is it as good as the classic entries?
Note: This game was played exclusively on Nintendo Switch hardware.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge Review
Even before this game came out, it felt really promising. Its developer, Tribute Games, did have a decent catalog of games, but nothing quite as big as this. Perhaps the biggest game anyone in the team worked on is Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game, a solid beat ’em up released to promote the movie adaptation of the graphic novel. Heck, it’s not even the first time the team has worked in this franchise, as they made one of the only great TMNT games in 2008 for the GBA, titled… well, TMNT. Both Scott Pilgrim and TMNT were published by Ubisoft.
When I found out that this game was being handled by developers involved in both of these games, I felt pretty satisfied that it would at least turn out pretty good.
The beat ’em up gameplay is a true return to form
If you grew up playing the likes of TMNT 2 and Turtles in Time, you’re definitely going to find a lot to love about this game. It has a ton of the same great gameplay you’ve come to expect from this beat ’em up franchise. Up to six people can play together (on Xbox, Steam, and Switch, anyway), and it’s as fun as it has been. Not only that, but you can play together both offline and offline! The only downside for me, however, is the fact that there is no friendly fire anymore. Still, that’s only a small complaint about an otherwise great multiplayer experience.
As it tends to be with multiplayer games that have everyone on the same screen, the more people who are playing at once, the more confusing it can become. It’s pretty manageable when it’s only you and a friend playing together, but once you get all five of your friends into the game, that’s when things get just a little out of hand. It’s not nearly as unplayable as four players in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, at least. Perhaps that’s why they didn’t worry about including friendly fire?
The combat design has tons of depth, and honestly, this is the most fun the combo system has been in the series’ history. As much as I loved the classic games, they did have a tendency to be a bit of a button masher. And while there is a bit of button mashing here too, the combo game is on point. It does a really good job making combos rewarding, and they’re satisfying to pull off. The best part is, it’s not too complicated to pull these off, so you don’t have to worry about it being too difficult.
One feature I love about this game is the dodge roll. This has become a common mechanic in a lot of games, and for good reason. These kinds of maneuvers allow you to play more boldly due to the fact that you can easily jump into and out of the fray. The dodge roll has generous invincibility frames, so it’s not like you have to time it perfectly either.
A strong cast of characters from your childhood
Whereas a lot of the classic TMNT games only give you the standard Turtles – Michaelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, and Donatello – this game brings them back and gives you three more characters to choose from. You can play as three of the Turtles’ biggest allies: April O’Neill, Splinter, and Casey Jones. Each of the seven characters has their own strengths and weaknesses; for example, Donatello has great range and poor speed, while Raphael has poor range but great power.
There are only two exceptions, in the form of Leonardo and Casey Jones. Leonardo is a well-rounded character, with none of his stats being too high or too low. Meanwhile, Casey Jones has the best spread, with a high range and average speed and strength. A little overpowered, but you have to unlock him first. So the good news is that, if you have a full group of six people, everyone gets their own character to control.
Me personally, I stuck with April O’Neill for my first playthrough, and on my second, I tried out Donatello, my favorite Ninja Turtle (and it’s not even a contest). I found that both were a ton of fun to play. I tend to have more fun with characters who are either very fast and weak, or those who can attack from afar, which April and Donatello fulfill respectively. No matter what your preferred play style may be, there will be a fitting one for you.
It’s a tough game with plenty of ways to get through it
To start, the game is not all that bad. If you’ve played a beat ’em up before, you shouldn’t have to worry about it too much. Even if you’re a beginner, it shouldn’t be a great problem. However, as you progress through the game, the difficulty ramps up at what I think is a pretty reasonable pace. By the end of the game, it gets pretty tough, and having friends to get through it does a world of good to help make it easier.
There are three difficulty modes to choose from, although if you are a big fan of beat ’em up and challenging games in general, I strongly recommend that you go with Gnarly (the hardest difficulty mode). This is because Okay is too easy, and Chill even easier.
Additionally, there are some mechanics that make the game a little too easy even on the hardest difficulty, such as how it handles the regeneration of your super attack. Shredder’s Revenge also allows you to do a taunt to fill up your Super Attack meter. This is a cool mechanic on paper, but I personally avoided using it at all costs, because it simply made the game way too easy, even on the hardest difficulty. If you do a taunt while on the easiest difficulty, the game becomes downright trivial.
On the bright side, you can still make the game harder by imposing handicaps on yourself, and these difficulty features allow more people to enjoy the game in full.
Multiple ways to play
Whether you’re someone who’s grown up with the TMNT beat ’em ups, or this is your first experience with them, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The game has two main modes of play: arcade mode and story mode. Arcade mode plays a lot more like the classic TMNT experience, being a lot more straightforward.
Meanwhile, the story mode feels a little more in depth and varied, mainly thanks to the ability to go back to older levels to complete challenges.Levels are accessed via a map, similar to the map used in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game.
Another difference between the two modes is how lives are handled. Arcade mode gives you a limited number of lives, only allowing you to obtain more lives by vanquishing the Foot Clan, and it has to be completed in a single season. Meanwhile, the story mode allows you to upgrade your character’s number of lives, health, new combat moves, and a buff called Radical Mode using points you’ve accumulated.
The story mode isn’t going to be for everyone, especially for those who enjoy a fast-paced arcade experience, but for someone like me, I’m more than happy to play through both modes.
The art style is nostalgic without feeling dated
This game was truly made to emulate the original 1980s TMNT cartoon. Not only does it look like a cartoon, but it has tons of things from the cartoon you grew up with. There are many recognizable characters that return from the 1987 cartoon, mainly the iconic boss designs. Whether it’s Shredder, Krang, Baxter Stockman, or the Rat King, a lot of favorite TMNT villains make a return.
Despite this, the developers behind the game made a point of taking from more than just the TV show, including plenty of references to content from the comics. The art style feels super cartoony, and the animation is really top notch, and the world of Ninja Turtles is brought to life better than any TMNT game before it.
Despite not being developed by the people behind the classic TMNT games, it’s extremely evocative of them, even having some clear easter eggs referencing the games. One thing I felt a little disappointed about was the lack of a CRT filter. Some games have filters meant to emulate what it’s like to play on an older TV, and some go the extra mile by having a variety of different CRT filter options. One of the best examples of a game with multiple CRT filters is Gleylancer. Still, even without CRT filters, the game looks wonderful.
Shredder’s Revenge has some technical issues
For as good as it looks, the game has had some problems with its performance, although most of the problems were patched out by the developer with a day-one patch. Despite this patch, there have been reports of certain issues, like audio glitches and frame drops, but luckily, my play experience has been relatively good. The worst glitch we’ve seen come up with anyone was a glitch causing the game to stop working, forcing them to restart their game.
The audio has a lot of heart put into it
There’s a lot of iconic music that comes from the TMNT franchise, so it’s understandable that there are high expectations whenever an adaptation of TMNT is made. And let me tell you, this might be the best thing about the game, at least in terms of making my nostalgia bubble up to the surface. Not only do you have some classic remixes, both of the TMNT theme song and music from past TMNT games, but you also have the classic voice clips from the cartoons returning as well. They really didn’t pull any punches on this project!
As a big fan of beat ’em ups, Shredder’s Revenge is one of my favorite new games in the genre, losing only to Streets of Rage 4. It has some great gameplay for six players simultaneously, online and offline, and it is the best attempt to capture the magic of TMNT in a really long time. As someone who grew up with TMNT, this game has been a treat, and despite its technical issues, the art style employed works perfectly. The audio is nothing to shake a stick at either, including some remixes of classic TMNT songs, new songs, and classic audio samples from the 1987 TMNT series.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is most easily obtained on digital storefronts, including Nintendo Switch, Steam, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, although Limited Run Games released physical editions for Switch, PS4, and Xbox One if that’s more your speed.
I can only hope that this game is a hit with gamers, because I want to see more beat ’em up games, TMNT or otherwise, from this developer. The developers absolutely deserve the opportunity to do more.
- The gameplay is challenging, yet not frustrating
- Encourages aggressive play
- Six-player online multiplayer
- Multiple ways to enjoy the game
- Lots of characters to choose from
- Great soundtrack
- The art style is awesome
- Some technical issues hamper the experience, especially the framerate
- Would like some more options, like a CRT filter and friendly fire
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