TMNT: Shredder's Revenge

Beat-‘em-ups are having a moment, folks. We’ve got stuff like Streets of Rage 4, Mother Russia Bleeds, River City Girls, and so many more modern arcade action games. Heck, I think it’s time I came clean and admitted that I really enjoyed the latest Battletoads game, too.

This year, though, we were graced with the return of a beloved franchise when Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge emerged from the sewers of New York… or rather, from the minds of the people over at Tribute Games.

Ninja Turtles has a long and storied history that spans comic books, movies, and TV shows. But the best games in the series came along during a time when arcades were all the rage. They delivered the colorful, action-packed nature of an animated series in a fun co-op package. Well, just like punk’s not dead, arcade’s not dead, either! Shredder’s Revenge is able to give off those classic arcade vibes while delivering a tight, polished action game.

The story here is nothing we haven’t seen before. But if you’re a longtime Turtles fan, you don’t need it to be. Shredder gathers his army of baddies and attempts to take over New York. Naturally, the only ones who can stop him are the Ninja Turtles. That’s where you come in.

Shredder's Revenge Characters

You play as Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Donatello, but you’re also joined by Master Splinter, April O’Neil, and even Casey Jones. Each character has his or her own strengths and weaknesses. Some are faster but weaker. Others are slower but stronger. Then you’ve got Casey who’s like a freakin’ vigilante machine!

You’ll battle Shredder and the Foot Clan across 16 stages that take you from New York to alien planets and back. Backing the leader of the Foot is a rogues’ gallery of villains including Bebop, Rocksteady, Rat King, Krang, and many more. It’s like a shot of adrenaline-fueled nostalgia, and it’s pretty awesome.

But as cool as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is to simply behold on account of its cartoon-ish pixel art and abundance of fan service, it’s just as rad to play. The action is fast-paced and simple, with the Turtles and company able to perform combos, grab attacks, and special moves. The specials will clear out large hordes and give you an easier time of disposing of the Foot, all the while making you look super cool at the same time.

Shredder's Revenge - Rocksteady Boss Fight

Another reason Shredder’s Revenge is so much fun, though, is because of just how perfectly paced it is. There’s never a dull moment to be found. The screen is constantly filled with Foot Soldiers, aliens, hostile mutants, and all kinds of nasty enemies. The more the merrier, and this is the type of game that’s best played with others. Though that’s not to say that you won’t have fun if you decide to jump into the mean streets of New York on your own.

Whether you’re playing on a lower setting or the high difficulty, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is just so smooth and fast that it’s impossible to not be entertained while playing. I would definitely recommend challenging yourself with the higher setting as the game still isn’t too punishing even then, but you’ll likely have a good time whatever your approach may be.

Shredder’s Revenge even offers up a fun little passive upgrade system, where the higher the score you rack up over time, the more abilities you’ll unlock. It’s cool being able to punish the Foot Clan in different ways, and the newer abilities you obtain as you play look great and are satisfying to unlock.

It’s really easy to take one look at Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge and be like, “Yo, this looks so cool!” That’s because, well, it does. It looks really cool! The pixel art is fantastic, and the backdrops are rich and detailed and look like something you’d see in the old 1987 cartoon.

Shredder's Revenge - Donatello and Master Splinter

The music is also dope, though! Tracks are catchy as heck and sound like they were taken out of an old school Turtles game. Then there’s that track. Oh, that track. Yeah, “We Ain’t Came to Lose” by Ghostface Killah and Raekwon goes hard and helps to create one of the most badass moments in the entire game.

Though Shredder’s Revenge isn’t very long, it’s so much fun and each of the characters is unique enough that you’re likely to want to revisit it another time or two after your first playthrough. And if you can get some friends to play in either local or online co-op, you’ll definitely want to bust some Foot Soldier heads more than once.

This isn’t some massive, sprawling action-adventure game or RPG. You’re not delving into an epic fantasy or anything like that here. But what you do get is a cool return to form for the Ninja Turtles. You get a game that’s as true to the classic 1987 cartoon as it is to the best arcade games the series has to offer. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is loads of fun, it never gets boring, and it’s one of the best beat-‘em-ups in recent years.

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