Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge Review

Step aside, Turtles In Time. There's a new king in the castle.

by Shaun Cichacki

Growing up, there were few feelings greater than dumping a week’s worth of hard-earned allowance money into a Turtles In Time cabinet at your local arcade. You and your friends had complete control over your favorite half-shelled heroes, slashing, smacking, and kicking through endless FOOT soldiers as you aim to put an end to Shredder’s plans.  While the day of the arcade is slowly fading away, there are new ways to make the magic happen, and Dotemu has knocked this retro rampage out of the park. While most were just hoping for a successor to Turtles in Time, Shredders Revenge does more than enough to take over as the new king of multiplayer beat-em-ups.

No matter how you play, you’ll find something here to enjoy, solo or with friends. You’ll be able to jump into the story and help prevent Shredder from bringing Krang back into action, or if you’re looking to showcase your skills, hop right into the arcade mode. No matter what, old or new, you’ll find plenty to love with this side-scrolling shell shocker that left this reviewer ready to leave the past behind. Let’s get into the details about what makes Shredders Revenge the best TMNT game to date.

Heros In A Half Shell

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We need to get the cat out of the bag: hearing the original ’80s cartoon turtles once more was a strangely emotional experience. For those that grew up wishing that they could go on adventures with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, hearing the original actors come back to reprise their roles once more as the titular heroes is an amazing feeling. While they may have aged, they still can deliver some great lines and sound near-identical to their original performances. This helps seal the deal on the fact this is meant as something old and something new, melding the old-school gameplay with new-age pixels that shine brighter than ever.

While screenshots of this game may look good, there is nothing that compares to seeing it in motion. The sprite work that was done is absolutely phenomenal, giving each of the Turtles, as well as April O’Neil and Splinter, their own personalities. You’ll see Mikey acting like a fool, Raph acting seriously, and so much more. There are little sprinkles of life and individuality sprinkled into these characters, and it’s amazing to see. They all play differently, act differently, and look different, so you’ll be able to nail their combat down to a science to continue pushing ahead in the game.

The stages are done up incredibly well, also. You’ll be able to see obvious callbacks to the titles that inspired it while getting their own unique spins on things. You’ll be able to destroy different parts of the environment and find special items, characters, and bonuses that can help fuel the competition between your friends and yourself. But the best part of this is the fact that the fun doesn’t stop when you put the controller down.

In the arcades, you couldn’t save your character. Once you plunked down your last quarter, you were done, so say sayonara, dude to all of the progress that you’ve made. Thankfully, while withholding the spirit of its arcade predecessors nearby, you’ll also be able to work on leveling up your favorite character to make them an unstoppable butt-kicking machine. You’ll want to make sure that you’ve prepared for battle before squaring off against the big bads in the game, and you’ll be able to work your way up through a leveling system to unlock more health, more lives per level, and even new super attacks to help you bring down foes easier than ever.

It’s Time To Kick Some Shell

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One of the most exciting parts of Turtles in Time was bringing 3 of your friends along for the ride. You’ll all gather around an arcade cabinet, slamming buttons and trying to prove that you were the most dominant turtle until you all ran out of quarters. One of the biggest things, as well, is that that game was quite difficult, making it hard for newer players to get as engrossed in the game without spending a lot of extra cash.

Thankfully, for those that have a gamer in their life that may not be used to the idea of a beat-em-up, you’ll be able to select different difficulty options before starting up the story mode. You’ll be able to have a friend jump in or out of the game at any point, and with the addition of online multiplayer, there may be a chance for you to reconnect with your old gaming buddies that may have moved away since the days of your youth.

One of the things that make this stand out above its predecessors is the fact that it has selectable difficulty levels, so you’ll be able to bring just about anyone along for the ride. While there are still challenging sections, those that are not used to this style of game can jump in and help you kick some FOOT butt, thanks to a simple but effective control scheme. You have one standard attack button, one super attack button, and a jump button. You’ll be able to avoid attacks with a backflip and build onto your combos from there, making the ease of entry quite nice for newer gamers, as well as the ability to crank up the challenge for those that thrived in the arcade.

Exploring the stages that are available within the game is made even more enjoyable with the variety of different enemies that you’ll encounter through your journey. You’ll find different foes of all shapes, sizes, and colors, ranging from standard FOOT Ninjas to mighty Triceratons that can all be taken down in a variety of different ways. You’ll be able to utilize jumping attacks, use your jump and attack buttons simultaneously to perform rising attacks, and save up enough Ninja Power to unleash devastating Super Attacks that can bring down most foes faster than ever before. The attacks you dish out on foes feel weighty, and your co-op attacks can help raise the stakes even higher.

Cowabunga, Dude!

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One of the most impressive parts of Shredders Revenge, however, has to be the soundtrack and general sound design. You’ll feel the impact of your hits, alongside some of the catchiest tunes in a recent game, put together by Tee Lopes, who helped with the soundtrack for Dotemu’s recent revitalization of Streets of Rage, as well as Sonic Mania. As much as you may want to continue to the next stage, take a minute and jam out with your turtle to the beats that are laid down for you, ranging from reimaginings of different TMNT theme songs, to even getting members of Wu-Tang Clan on to rap over a boss battle. It’s something that was never expected but is appreciated nevertheless.

The voice acting is surprisingly solid, as well. Hearing Cam Clarke, Townsend Coleman, Barry Gordon, and Rob Paulsen all come back to reprise their roles from the 1987 cartoon is incredible, and age hasn’t slowed them down one bit. However, the repetition of catchphrases can be a little jarring, especially hearing Spinter say “Teamwork is the way” 5 times almost back to back after delivering a punch to an enemy. While it’s great to hear them, we can only hope that their catchphrases are a bit more varied in the future with content updates, but for those that grew up hearing these characters, it may not be as bad as it sounds.

The joyous chorus of “PIZZA TIME!” whenever you pick up health, quips that are delivered at the beginning and ends of stages, and more can help pepper out the runtime of this game, which is fairly short. While you may be able to beat the game in around 2 to 2 and half hours, you’ll find it’s infinitely replayable as you continue to level your turtles up, challenge yourself with higher difficulties, and search for all of the scattered collectibles that are hidden throughout the stages.

If you’re looking to flex your true turtle power, taking a run through Arcade Mode will showcase your skills as you’ll find a game just as challenging as those in the past. With only a limited number of lives, you’ll need to kick some serious shells to make sure that you can survive to the end, where you’ll come across one of the coolest boss fights in recent memory, which we cannot spoil for you just yet. It’s something that you’ll need to see to believe, and even then, you may not believe it.

As much praise as we can heap upon this game, there are a few little things here and there that keep it from being the perfect beat-em-up. Weird difficulty spikes that can take a less experienced gamer for a loop, some repetition in voice lines, and some strange layering effects that can have your character standing in front of and on top of things they shouldn’t be can take you slightly out of the immersion of this otherwise excellent game. During one of the boss fights, there are a few sets of rocks in the background that your character should not be able to stand on, so it was almost a boundary-breaking moment, which could easily be fixed shortly. There were also a few moments of intense slowdown on PC, which shouldn’t have been happening alongside what was happening on the screen.

The Verdict

If you’re looking to find something that is an enjoyable romp down memory lane, and can easily hold its own against many of the giants of its kind, you won’t need to look any further. Turtles In Time can finally take a well-deserved vacation from the homes of those that loved it, as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredders Revenge takes the inspiration that it received from that title, and many others, and propels the genre to new heights. With a killer soundtrack, excellent controls, a great roster of characters, and more, you’ll find that there is an excellent time to be had here by any gamer of any skill level. A few small problems hold it back from being the greatest beat-em-up of all time, you cannot go wrong with this shell of a time. An absolute grand slam for Dotemu, with more to come on the way.

This game was reviewed using a copy of the game provided by the game's publisher,public relations company, developer or other for the express purpose of a review.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge

  • Score: 4.5 / 5
  • Available On: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
  • Published By: Dotemu
  • Developed By: Tribute Games
  • Genre: Beat 'Em Up
  • US Release Date: June 16, 2022
  • Reviewed On: PC
  • Quote: "With a killer soundtrack, excellent controls, a great roster of characters, and more, you'll find that there is an excellent time to be had here by any gamer of any skill level. A few small problems hold it back from being the greatest beat-em-up of all time, you cannot go wrong with this shell of a time."
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