Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge review for PS4/5, Xbox Series X/One, Switch

Platform: PS4
Also On: PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Switch, PC
Publisher: Dotemu
Developer: Tribute Games
Medium: Digital/Disc/Cart
Players: 1-6
Online: Yes
ESRB: E10+

Beat?em ups have kind of been in stasis as a genre for the last couple decades, periodically a gem would pop up (Scott Pilgrim Vs the World, Fight?N Rage, Streets of Rage 4 and River City Girls) reminding the world that the genre is still viable, but those who grew up during the heyday of the genre would yearn for the days where they can go on a new adventure with a quartet of testudines brothers from New York. Konami blew our collective minds in the late ’80s/early ’90s with their two Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle arcade games. While Splinter?s boys have had many other video game adventures including some that were beat?em ups, none of them quite measured up to those two arcade experiences. It seems however a title finally stepped up and can be held in the same regards as those benchmark titles. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder?s Revenge is a collaborative effort from two companies with an impressive pedigree with beat?em ups. Dotemu helped put together the extremely technical and fun Streets of Rage 4, Tribute Games was founded by members who worked on the Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World title. Together they seemed to have formed a beat?em up super dev and Shredder?s Revenge is their gift to the world.

TMNT: Shredder?s Revenge is posited as a ?new? season of the seminal Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon that aired in the early 90s. Dotemu and Tribute Games managed to even secure the original voice actors of the turtles for the title (Sadly no, James Avery as the Shredder as he has long passed). The Foot has stolen the Statue of Liberty once again (Why do they keep doing this?) and it?s up to the Turtles, their master Splinter and even their human pal April O?Neil to return Lady Liberty back to her perch. Arcade mode recreates the days when you would have to put in a quarter on the machine to secure your place in line, you?ll play through the game?s 16 levels which will have you crisscrossing New York City and Dimension X. While there is a limited set of continues, the game on normal mode will not drain your quarters and keep you from seeing the turtle?s quest to its end. Story Mode takes the game?s 16 levels and allows you to build up your turtles adding adding additional stocks of super bars, super moves and even a powerful new mode for the players to enter into in order to put the hurt to the foot. Players of Scott Pilgrim vs the World will notice the world map in TMNT Shredder?s Revenge mirrors the map depicting the mysterious land of Toronto with details depicting scenes from the levels.

Beat?em ups suffered from the lack of room to innovate and that made it harder to justify putting out new titles in the genre. Tribute and Dotemu somehow broke through that glass ceiling and put in several things that I can?t say I?ve seen in many other beat?em ups. Utilizing all of the buttons of the modern controller the turtle?s arsenals expanded greatly when compared to their 20th century counterparts. Charge attacks, Anti-air attacks, 3 Super Attacks, and the game changer, the ability to dodge truly made the experience for me. Arcade games were designed to part players with their money so giving players defensive options was not good for business. Having a dodge really adds to the replayability for me as now I have an incentive to complete every level without getting hit, but with a high hit counter.

During the lead up to the launch, the devs released a series of behind the scenes videos speaking of how the game was a dream project. Scenes of their old action figures would occasionally pan across these vignettes almost as proof of the authenticity of their worlds. After playing the game I can conclude these guys are serious fans. The boss selection in the game showed deep reverence for not just the animated cartoon, taking deep cuts that even someone like me had to look up. The easter eggs stuffed in the game nearly fill the basket to the brim, whether reusing the Statue of Liberty as the primary plot or the fact that some of the turtles? moves are actually homages to moves they had in other games! In fact their dedication was so deep, each turtle felt like a distinct entity rather than a palette swap. Also the low key stars of the game I dare say would be the Foot Soldiers themselves. Coming in every color of the visible spectrum, they aren?t just confined to just waddling onto the screen from stage left or right. Whether they are working in the newsroom, the food court or even bumming around on a park bench, these robotic minions were more than fodder. The variety of enemies is quite vast and some will require tactics beyond wailing on them with your specific weapons.

It?s hard for me to actually come up with complaints about the title. Some might say the party pizza introduced in the game, which heals the entire party, kills a lot of the tension of deciding who will get the health refill, taunting filling a complete super bar feels like it makes the super moves a lot more exploitable. However these are minor quibbles. Concerns of the game?s short length aren?t really warranted, in fact around stage 13 I was asking myself in my mind when this will end, but those last couple of levels definitely stick the landing. Story mode includes hidden collectibles, and stage specific challenges that will slightly extend your experience.

For years beat?em up fans petitioned to get the previously delisted Scott Pilgrim Vs The World a re-release. If these gamers knew that an even better title would be coming down the pipeline, I would dare say the furor would not have been as warranted. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder?s Revenge is the game we thought had back then, but it?s actually real now. Licensed games are often seen by gamers as quick cash grabs for studios and IP owners, but this one is definitely the exception. So I would recommend get on this ASAP and find 5 people (hit me up if you know me, I wanna co-op) and go on this joyous romp in New York City!

Note: Dotemu provided us with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: A