Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge - Turtles vs. Shredder

Developer Tribute Games did an excellent job with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge. The game is a throwback to the classic entries in the franchise while delivering the polish of a modern arcade beat-‘em-up. The game launched to instant acclaim, with praise directed at its crisp pixel art, slick sound design, and tight action gameplay.

We spoke with Narrative Designer Yannick Belzil, who gladly talked about the game’s development, the team’s love of the franchise, and the amount of pizza that was consumed during development.

What does the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series mean to Tribute Games?

We’re an independent studio and we’ve always been focused on creating our characters, but it was always understood that if the possibility of making TMNT came along, we’d have to jump on it.

TMNT is such a huge part of our childhood — not only as toys or cartoons we’ve enjoyed, but also as an important piece of the arcade-going experience and the beat-em up genre.

How were you approached about this project? What was the initial reaction from the team?

We had tried a couple of times to get the license, but it didn’t happen. It’s only when we teamed up with Dotemu and pitched it that it became a reality.

I think everyone was excited to take part in creating a new version of not only beloved characters, but a favorite game.

Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge - Flying Stage Gameplay

Favorite Ninja Turtles game, movie, show, or comic?

Love the IDW run that’s been going on for years now. It’s one of the best blends of readapting what works and adding new elements I’ve seen in comics. It’s a great platonic example of TMNT, the same way Batman Animated or the 2017 Ducktales are.

How do you make a TMNT beat-‘em-up in 2022? Is there a balancing act between staying true to the retro titles and providing a modern edge or twist?

It’s not as much a balancing act as it is a stepping stone. You have to look at what works from the originals and try to sand down the more frustrating aspects and find ways where you can smooth out the formula, like making hit detection more generous on enemies, adding escape moves, or sharing health.

What was the biggest challenge the team encountered when developing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge?

Making all of it! But seriously, making a game during the pandemic when everyone was at home was tricky, but I think the notion of making a great multiplayer game that would unite people, whether it’s physically or online, really made us work together well.

What was the coolest or most memorable aspect of developing the game?

Personally, it was seeing new animation and level art coming in. Seeing Donatello’s portable console taunt for the first time was such a delight! And it kept happening over and over with April’s animations, the Technodrome backgrounds, etc.

Getting to work with the original Turtles voice actors was also a treat!

Shredder's Revenge - Donatello and Splinter Double-Team Move

Go-to drink during the development process?

Coke Zero is a favorite at my desk and it pairs great with a pizza!

If there’s late working (very rare), I like a Moscow Mule or vodka cranberry!

Was a lot of pizza consumed while making TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge? If so, favorite toppings? Favorite pizza place?

There’s always a lot of pizza consumed around my house, or at Tribute Games! I’ll offer the controversial stance that anchovies are really good on pizza!

My favorite current pizza place is Montreal’s King of Smoked Meat! You would not think the king of smoked meat also does good pizza, but the King always surprises you.

Shredder’s Revenge released during what is often considered one of the biggest weeks of the entire year in gaming on account of E3, Summer Game Fest, and so on. How does it feel to release a game during such a wild week?

It was very exciting! People were hungry for TMNT and pizza, so we were thrilled to be able to deliver the game right after we made our Summer Game Fest announcement!

Were there any ideas left out of the final game that you can share? Maybe level designs, playable characters, enemies, or concepts that didn’t make the cut?

There’s always loads of stuff we want to put in a game, especially with a dream property like TMNT. You want to play with every action figure, every vehicle, or create new beat-’em-up tricks! But we have to be disciplined and make a game that can eventually come out. We had loads of ideas we wanted to put in the game, and if the stars align, maybe we’ll get to do it!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge Co-Op

The reception to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge has been overwhelmingly positive. How does that feel? Were you all fans of the series? And if so, does that reception provide some validation or affirmation?

It feels great! The game has been made from a place of love because we loved the toys, the cartoons, and the games! So to see that the game is not only successful, but that our passion for the characters has been felt is extremely gratifying. 

Personally, seeing the development from up close, I knew my colleagues were doing something great, so the success is a great affirmation.

Do you feel like you’re done with TMNT? Or would you be open to revisiting it? Why?

TMNT is not something that comes around often, so I think we would be open to do more of it! Whether that happens is a whole other thing!

Finally, I can’t be the only person who liked the 2014 and 2016 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films. That second one was especially fun thanks to the loads of fan service. I mean, come on, it had the Technodrome, Bebop, and Rocksteady! Thoughts on these movies?

Creating new versions of the Turtles, especially in non-comic/sprite medium has to be tremendously hard. People love the specific versions from their childhood so they can be difficult to win over. I liked the 2016 movie, especially when it behaves like the ‘87 cartoon. It feels right for these characters to be sillier — it allows for their whole world to exist comfortably onscreen.

We would like to thank Yannick Belzil for taking the time to answer our questions, as well as the rest of the team at Tribute Games and publisher Dotemu!

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