A wonderful nostalgic ninja party

After many years away from the limelight, a stream of new beat ’em up games has gradually begun to emerge. A couple of years ago, we got new features from both Streets of Rage and Battletoads, and several of the old hits now have both sequels and collectibles on the way. Of course, it was only a matter of time before good old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came back on the field, and this time it is the Canadian Tribute Games that have had a try.

It’s clear that Tribute has drawn inspiration from the right places, for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is a brilliant sequel that hits hard in several ways.

Turtles in a simpler time

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge.

Jørgen Bordal Andersen / Gamer.no

There is refreshingly little storytelling to be done before Shredder’s Revenge kicks off. The green turtles, Splinter and April O’Neil, are sitting together in front of a news broadcast showing that the Statue of Liberty and the local TV studio are under attack by Shredder’s lackeys. Then you are dumped into the first board, and can start handing out beatings immediately. Each player chooses a turtle, rat or person to play as, and off you go.

It’s not entirely clear whether this will be a direct or spiritual sequel to Old Turtles in Time, but it does not really have much to say. The opening tray takes you straight back to the simple times where life revolved around CRT TVs and pizza, and the first impression is very strong.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge.

Jørgen Bordal Andersen / Gamer.no

What you do in the game is as uncomplicated as the story. You move from left to right as you knock up waves of infantry, robots and other dangerous creatures, collecting points along the way. The game can be played alone or with up to 6 other teammates, where each character has its own strengths and weaknesses. If you play as the same character for a long time, you unlock upgrades and special attacks. You have a fairly large arsenal of attacks to switch between, which gives good variety and a lot of depth to the battles.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge

Dotemu

There are two playable modes to choose from. The story mode allows you to play through the game in the usual way and save between the boards. For the more hardcore fans, you also have the option to play throughout the game in arcade mode, where you have a certain amount of extra life, and must restart the entire game if you use them up. For most people, there will probably be more than enough challenge in the story mode, but the arcade mode is a good alternative for those who are particularly interested.

Unlike many other modernizations, Tribute has gone for a more traditional pixel graphics style that will give associations to old days. However, this does not mean that the graphics look bad, on the contrary. Both the characters and the environments are detailed and full of personality that reflects the cartoons they are based on. The levels are filled with small details and pop cultural references. In the background plays a wonderful mix of guitar solos, hip-hop and electronic music from the artist Tee Lopes (known from Sonic Mania) and occasional vocal elements from guest artists. The gunpowder is not saved here.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge.

Jørgen Bordal Andersen / Gamer.no

In terms of sound and picture, this game is mostly impeccable all over Fjøla, and it fits perfectly with the source material. The actors from the original animated series have even returned to play their roles, 26 years after the last episode was broadcast on TV. They may sound a little older than they did in 1987, but it’s still a fun reunion.

Refined combat system

There are two different types of boards – regular beat ’em up boards where you go from left to right and knock enemies over a low shoe, and skateboard boards that move a little differently (but here too it mostly just means that you goes from left to right and beats up people). The levels in the game are colorful and varied in appearance, although it should be said that you do much of the same in all levels.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge.

Jørgen Bordal Andersen / Gamer.no

One would think it became monotonous eventually, but the combat system provides enough opportunities to play varied. If the alternative had been to throw in a bunch of unnecessary mines between the boards (I look at you, Battletoads) then I actually prefer the way Tribute Games has done it with Turtles. They have figured out what kind of combat system they wanted, honed it to perfection and stuck to what they do best. The fight itself feels good enough that you really do not need anything else.

Quality over quantity

What keeps the experience interesting over time is the combat system’s impressive mix of button combinations, a large gallery of enemies and memorable boards that constantly find new ways to challenge you. That said, the biggest complaint against Shredder’s Revenge is probably the amount of content included.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge.

Jørgen Bordal Andersen / Gamer.no

The whole game can be played through in a couple of hours, which as far as is not uncharacteristic of the genre. In relation to games in general, it is still on the short side. I do not know how much to complain about this when the game only costs a few hundred bucks (or even less if you have an Xbox Game Pass), but that is actually the only distinct weakness here. Maybe it’s okay to hope for some downloadable additional content in the long run?

It might not hurt either a little more variety, but the refined combat system makes Shredder’s Revenge a joy to play through. It feels really good to hand out long attack combinations and juggle enemies in the air, and when the core is so rock solid, neither mini-games nor other side content are needed to keep the experience fresh. Shredder’s Revenge is designed as a refined, tough and nostalgic beat ’em up experience.

Conclusion

Tribute Games certainly knows how to put together satisfying and raw games, but I was left with a gnawing longing for more content when the scrolling text crept across the screen. Some will say it’s a compliment to the game core that I wish there was more to deal with, but it’s a bit in the thinnest made not to pick on it.

It helps that you can level up with all the characters individually, and thus have a small incentive to play through the levels several times. In addition, they have made it easy to search for players online to play together if you do not have turtle enthusiasts in the household or circle of friends. The variation that comes from playing with others can potentially provide enough entertainment to run multiple rounds through the game, so this opportunity is a big plus. In any case, the content we have received is more than good enough to recommend. It also proves that there is still room to make games of this type, so I hope developers like Tribute continue to pave the way.

If you crave good beat ’em up games, it’s definitely worth checking out Shredder’s Revenge. If you also have a good relationship with the ninja turtles from childhood, the recommendation is self-written.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is out now for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 (tested), Nintendo Switch and PC.

Leave a Comment