Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
Developer: Tribute Games
Publisher: DotEmu/Nickelodeon Games
Platform: Xbox (also available on Switch, PlayStation 4 and PC)
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 16th June 2022
Price: £22.49 MSRP (also currently on Game Pass)
A code was provided for review purposes
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (or Hero Turtles for a while here in the UK) is a name that is synonymous to anyone who’s grown up in the late 80’s and 90’s, as well as the current younger generations, due to various multimedia adaptations of their original comic book incarnation. They have spanned movies in the 90’s and late 2000’s, as well as animated shows, comic books and, for the purpose of this review, video games.
The Turtles have found their way onto various video game systems, such as the Mega Drive (Genesis for the US) with Hyperstone Heist and Tournament Fighters, the Xbox 360 and PS3 generations with re-boots and re-releases of some of the classic games. However, the game that stands head and shoulders above the rest in the eyes of the fans, and what can be considered as their video game Magnum Opus is TMNT 4: Turtles in Time for both SNES and the Arcade.
The Turtles are back on a new generation of consoles, to help hit the nostalgia factor for the classic fans and help introduce the newer generations to the games of yesteryear that engrossed those for multiple hours. The question that stood clear in mind whilst reviewing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge was, “Is this a reskinned version of Turtles in Time, or something entirely new?”
First up in the critical eye is the storyline throughout Shredder’s Revenge. I will be the first to admit that it is somewhat light on story beats, with small cutscenes throughout the story mode of the game, showing who you are chasing through the level, and for what purpose, combining together to form a narrative line that encompasses the sixteen levels you complete.
The story goes that Shredder has managed to return to Manhattan and is re-forming the Foot Clan to run riot on New York City, causing chaos and rising the crime rate to incredible levels, whilst recruiting some of the iconic previous foes for the Turtles, such as Bebob and Rocksteady. Your goal as one of the playable characters is to run through each section, taking down as many members of the Foot Clan and defeating the bosses that stand in your way.
The story for the game is incredibly simplistic, but I believe this is very likely done by design, for people of all ages and demographics to be able to follow along and enjoy, whilst providing just enough set up to keep you engaged between each different level. It’s not exactly a highlight of the game, but the intro movie, cutscenes between levels and the ending cinematics help to strike a chord with those familiar with the classic cartoons, as they use very similar musical queues and an art style that hits all the nostalgia cues in a very natural and enjoyable way.
Presentation & Performance
If you have played one of the recent retro revival beat-em-up games from the last couple of years, such as Streets of Rage 4 and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game, you will be very familiar with the art style choice made in Shredder’s Revenge.
Equal parts of HD sprite work and classic revival, the graphic and art style strikes an incredible balance between being nostalgic to the classic era games on the SNES/Arcade/Mega Drive, whilst giving it an incredible HD upgrade. The thing that was more astounding was how beautiful the animations are for every character. Tribute Games and DotEmu have clearly worked incredibly hard to not only hit all the nostalgia notes as well as advance what classic sprite work can be displayed and animated for the 4K generations. It truly is a sight to behold. It is clearly on show within the trailers, but due to the compression found on most video sharing platforms such as Youtube, it cannot really show how stunning this game is in motion.
During my play time with Shredder’s Revenge, in which I played predominantly on the Xbox (thanks to Game Pass), the game ran incredibly flawlessly, with no crashes, no screen tearing or drops in framerate. In terms of graphical fidelity and stability, Shredder’s Revenge is utterly flawless.
Much like I stated previously in the Presentation and Performance section, if you’ve played any of the retro revival scrolling beat-em-up games, the gameplay of Shredder’s Revenge will be very familiar to you.
The button layout is incredibly simple to understand. There are only a few buttons that are required, such as Jump, Attack, Backflip and Super Attack. Whilst there are minimal buttons that you require, this makes the game a lot easier for people of all ages to be able to easily pick up a controller and have fun. It is the epitome of a game that is easy to pick up but hard to master.
Once again, those familiar with Scott Pilgrim and Streets of Rage will know that Tribute Games, who are made of ex Ubisoft employees, worked on Scott Pilgrim back in 2010’s original release for PS3/Xbox 360. And it really does show. As I had stated before, it can be easy to pick up but hard to master, as there are so many hidden little nods to the combo system that you would find in those retro revival beat-em-ups, as well as some more complex combos that will excite those who enjoy the grind of learning combos in fighting games.
The little nuances I noticed within the game’s combo system were: jump cancelling moves to reduce cool down on attacks, cancelling standard attacks into Supers to extend the combo counter and gain more points, and extending combos by cancelling out of the dodge animation with its follow up attack, which can be both useful within an aggressive or defensive playstyle.
The combo system itself is another true example of not only striking the nostalgia notes of the NES/SNES and Mega Drive games of old, but making huge leaps forward to make this a game for the ages; with enough simplicity for anyone to enjoy but also keeping those wanting to master the systems at play coming back for more.
Music & Sound
For anyone that’s familiar with any reviews that I have previously written, you will know that a good soundtrack, and excellent sound designs can be a huge part of going from just enjoying a game to absolutely loving one, if done correctly.
For example, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a game that was nearly flawless in its design and playstyle, but it was the sound design and the wonderful soundtrack by Anamanaguchi that kept that game long in my memory, even long after losing access to the original game all those years ago.
Basically, all the explanation about previous soundtracks was the setup to explain that Shredder’s Revenge has one of the best retro revival soundtracks on the market at the moment. Created by Tee Lopes and having many others contributing such as Jonny Atma, Ghostface Killah and Mike Patton, it takes many of the musical cues from the animated shows and video games of yesteryear and gives them a very 21st century update.
Guitar licks squeal in delight, vocals ring through with a sense of power and the drum beats slap you in the face harder than a wet fish. It is truly a masterpiece from a composer that is truly at the height of their game, and adding another incredible soundtrack to their portfolio to go alongside Sonic Mania. Tee Lopes is a man in high demand and deservedly so.
The sound design from the game is truly incredible as well. When each hit connects, you hear and feel it. Even some simplistic things such as environmental hazards such as the cars on the scrolling levels help to set the atmosphere, and give each hit a power and levity to them.
Netcode & Online Play
What you can see throughout this review is that I have been incredibly positive about all aspects of the game, which is why I would save the worst aspect of the game until last, which happens to be the online infrastructure.
Let’s be clear, the netcode ISN’T bad at all. Compared once again to the netcode for Scott Pilgrim and Streets of Rage 4, it really is a night and day difference in a more positive way. Tribute Games have created a netcode that is a lot more stable than those previously listed games, but it’s not without its problems of course. During my first play session around the launch, whilst playing with Kiley from Rapid Reviews Radio Podcast, the connection was very intermittent, with regular dropping out, constant refreshing of her character due to high spikes in lag and the response time going well above 200 m/s, leading to a lot of latency.
However, there must have been patches during the review period, as about a week or two later I managed to jump into a lobby with DeadbeatPunk from the WTFDYW podcast and had a mostly flawless experience. This helped to change my mind from my original standpoint of another indie studio struggling to implement an online infrastructure in their game, to one of a more positive nature. Whilst the netcode isn’t perfect, it has done more to make it a lot more of a playable experience than those games.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is a near flawless experience (with only mild issues with netcode and online play keeping it from being a near perfect game), that not only answers the question raised by myself during my review process, but manages to surpass all the incredibly high expectations that I had before the game came out.
It is the perfect blend of nostalgia driven gameplay with some excellent modern advancements to its combo system and adding online infrastructure and netcode to make this THE DEFINITIVE TURTLES EXPERIENCE for any age, and for me that also includes the utterly iconic and ageless TMNT 4: Turtles in Time. Cowabunga!
Rapid Reviews Rating
4.5 out of 5
You can buy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge from the Microsoft store.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.