Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge Review

Richard Walker

Being almost 40, I can remember the absolute peak of Turtles mania. Begging my mum to buy a loaf of Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles branded sliced bread from the supermarket, collecting the trading cards, playing with the action figures - this really tells you all you need to know about how ridiculously all-consuming the mutated fearsome fighting team were in their prime. From its origins in comic books, to an insanely popular animated series, and then movies, the TMNT took over the world in the late '80s and early '90s, and nothing was safe from being merchandised into oblivion. As an ageing Turtles fan with fond memories of the 1989 arcade game, as well as home console ports like the Hyperstone Heist or Turtles in Time, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge marks a long overdue return for the sewer-dwelling green team. And, as you'd hope, it's unreservedly glorious.


Six player co-op is pure, delicious chaos.

If you're familiar with Konami's seminal '80s and '90s run of TMNT scrolling beat 'em ups, then Shredder's Revenge is going to feel like a big, warm, nostalgic hug. It’s clear that it pulls inspiration from every one of those games, but emerges as something that feels simultaneously fresh and familiar - not unlike 2020's Streets of Rage 4, a scrolling brawler also jolted to life with the help of publisher Dotemu, who fulfil the same role for this retro-styled comeback. Where SoR4 adopted a hand-drawn art style, however, fittingly-named studio Tribute Games has chosen to stick with old-school pixels for Shredder’s Revenge, and it looks utterly gorgeous, brimming with character and verve. Vibrant arcade looks are one thing, but, happily, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge also plays like an arcade dream, albeit one that has a few new tricks up its shell.

As well as abilities like backflipping, running and sliding, and the good old screen-clearing super move, the game's Story Mode has you levelling up your chosen character, unlocking new skills, a larger health bar, extra lives, and other attributes along the way. Story Mode proves to be a masterstroke, taking you across a map of New York City in the Turtles' Party Wagon, enabling you to dive into a level, grab its collectibles, unearth its secret cameos, then return at any time. Conversely, Arcade Mode is a pure coin-op-style experience, granting you a limited pool of lives and one shot at completing all fifteen stages back-to-back. Story Mode is a neat, accessible way to complete Shredder's Revenge, without demanding the skill level necessary to complete every stage in a single sitting. If you want to dip into one or two levels, go for it. If you want to complete special requests for cameo characters, then fine. If you want to test yourself in Arcade Mode, jump in. It's fantastic.

A diversity of foes, encompassing various foot clan soldiers in coloured uniforms signifying their unique roles, rock warriors, and Baxter Stockman's rat-catching robots, keep things fresh and exciting. Bosses like Bebop, Rocksteady, Wingnut, Leatherhead, and numerous others are fantastic callbacks to the original series, while hoverboarding levels are a vigorous nod to similar segments seen during the aforementioned Konami era. No stone has been left unturned in Shredder's Revenge – even the voice actors from the original animated series have been enlisted to reprise their roles, save Shredder himself, who was, of course, voiced by the inimitable James Avery (The Fresh Prince of Bel Air's Uncle Phil), who passed away in 2013.


Six-player co-op provides the pepperoni on Tribute Games and publisher Dotemu's proverbial pizza, enabling you to band together as Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael, Master Splinter, and April O'Neil, as well as seventh character, hockey-stick wielding vigilante, Casey Jones, unlocked upon completing the game. Rope in enough friends to play with you, and the laughs will flow like crap through a sewer, as unfettered chaos unfolds on-screen (enemy numbers scale to accommodate the number of players) – there are few things quite as joyful as letting loose in Shredder's Revenge. In co-op, you can high-five ‘cheer up’ one another, revive fallen allies, execute unique co-op moves - it’s just a pure, unadulterated joy. Kudos has to go to Tribute and Dotemu for not only nailing the look and feel of those classic TMNT brawlers, but also for cramming almost every conceivable option and feature into the game, without making it seem like a retread of old ground.

Moreover, all four turtles feel unique, with their own move variants and styles. You may think this is an entirely obvious thing to say, until you recall that in the original arcade games, Leo, Mike, Don, and Raph weren't really all that distinct from one another, beyond the colours of their bandanas and their signature weapons. That's not the case here. Chuck in Splinter, April, and Casey Jones as additional playable fighters, myriad boss characters from the classic animated TV series, and you have something truly special, covering practically every square-inch of classic TMNT during its manic heyday. Every few seconds, I'd be reminded of an old toy I coveted as a kid, an obscure baddie, or an incidental detail I'd forgotten from the Saturday morning cartoon.


This foot soldier is trollied.

Marrying pick-up-and-play simplicity to a level of potential mastery for anyone who wants to invest the time and effort, Shredder's Revenge is also a perfect combination of the nostalgic and the new. Regardless of whether you're a complete Turtles rookie or a grizzled veteran of all things related to the heroes in a half-shell, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge succeeds in being a superlative scrolling beat 'em up that is about as good as this sort of thing gets. With Streets of Rage 4 proving there's ample life in the genre yet, Tribute Games' sterling effort is further compelling proof of that fact. Make no mistake, this is easily the best thing since Turtles-branded sliced bread.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge

A sensational nostalgia trip imbued with magical mutagen ooze, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge is a triumphant return for the TMNT that will scratch any and all scrolling beat 'em up itches, and give fans a sharp kick in the 'feels'.

Form widget
90%
Audio
90%

Upbeat tunes by Tee Lopes and other artists! The original TMNT theme song warbled by Faith No More frontman, Mike Patton! The original voices from the animated series! What more do you want!?

Visuals
90%

At once recalling the arcade glory days of the Konami TMNT games, developer Tribute Games has done a bang-up job here, with impeccable animation, colourful environments, and an all-encompassing, vibrant energy infused into the game's pixel art style. Simply marvellous.

Playability
90%

Riding a line between button-bashing immediacy and move-based mastery, Shredder's Revenge embraces players of all skill levels, with impeccable, simple controls, and gameplay that is both pure and totally intuitive.

Delivery
90%

Story Mode is excellent, offering a nice, palatable way to play all 15 levels with extra objectives and collectibles, character levelling, and more. Arcade Mode, meanwhile, offers the raw and unadulterated arcade experience. And six-player local/online co-op with crossplay?! You're really spoiling us.

Trophies
80%

A solid list that covers all of the relevant territory, whether it's Story Mode collectibles and milestones, co-op play, or attempts at completing Arcade Mode. I'm not sure I fancy completing Arcade Mode at the hardest 'Gnarly' difficulty, though.

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