Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge (Switch)

The turtles are back, dudes and dudettes!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 07/08/2022 01:39 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
Editor's Choice
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Beautiful, authentic presentation; killer soundtrack; tight combat with a thrilling focus on combos; returning voice cast adds greatly to the sense of immersion; incredible pixel graphics; multiplayer is easy to set up and fun to play
Poison Mushroom for...
Some glitches despite the game having been patched; throws and slams aren't as effective/useful as they could be

It’s been nearly 40 years since the original run of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird debuted. What began as a low budget enterprise in the duo’s living room soon blossomed into a multimedia empire headlined by the iconic early ’90s cartoon. From it came a litany of toys, collectibles, and yes, video games. Konami’s efforts across home consoles and the arcade remain some of the most popular and beloved video games based on the TMNT license to this day. It’s from those classic titles that developer Tribute Games drew the largest inspiration in crafting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge.

Shredder’s Revenge is simultaneously a love letter to the classic TMNT games of yore and a stunning reimagining of them for today’s players. The game is a 2D brawler with a heavy focus on combos and enemy juggling. The gameplay is perfectly complimented by a detailed, gorgeous arrangement of pixel art and animations, as well as a rollicking soundtrack, that authentically recreates the spirit of the first TMNT cartoon. It’s this mix of tight fighting mechanics and pitch-perfect fan service that makes Shredder’s Revenge the best TMNT game yet made.

The level of detail that Tribute Games has managed to stuff into Shredder’s Revenge is astounding. Every bit of the screen is covered in glorious pixels that brilliantly evoke the sprite work of Konami’s classic efforts while also feeling distinctly new and fresh. Playing through the game, longtime fans will doubtlessly catch certain poses and animations that have been pulled from across numerous past TMNT games and incorporated here. Other visual touches, like boss enemies flashing orange (or is it pink?) as their health begins to deplete, also come straight from old TMNT adventures. These small details are enriching little easter eggs that are fun to spot throughout the quest.

One aspect of the game that really shines is the period setting. Tube TVs and computer monitors are everywhere, joined with VHS tapes, malls, and arcades. Tribute could have opted to update things with details like flat panel monitors and cellphones, but much of the charm would have been lost in the translation. The appeal of TMNT in its prime was half the point of making Shredder’s Revenge in the first place—opting to embrace that era of TMNT’s debut has paid massive dividends thanks to the great sense of immersion that has been created.

As a brawler, Shredder’s Revenge easily ranks up there with some of the best that have been produced within the past few years, including Streets of Rage 4. There are seven total fighters to choose from: Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael, Master Splinter, April O’Neil, and Casey Jones (Jones is unlocked after beating the game once). Each combatant has the same set of controls/attacks, but it’s in their execution where the individual personalities of the characters get to shine. For example, all of the fighters can perform an upward launching strike, but where Raph delivers a brutal uppercut to send his foes skyward, Donatello instead uses a diagonal vertical kick.

These details extend into everything from punches and kicks, to taunts, slides, and more. It’s here that the quality of the animation once again shines through. Player stats also further customize the experience for each character. Splinter has a greater range of attack but lumbers across the screen, while Leonardo is a fittingly all-around brawler. No one feels particularly over or underpowered, although some players have come to argue that April and Raph feel like they’re the strongest of the bunch. Ultimately, it was fun playing as every single character, especially the trio of Splinter, April, and Casey who have traditionally rarely (if ever) been featured as playable.

The various Foot Soldiers offer a beefy range of attack patterns and types, making fights engaging and varied. The weight of attacks from the player character is solid, with plenty of heft and satisfying feedback. Players have standard kick and melee options, but enemies can also be slammed into the ground, flung at the screen, and hurled to the side. What’s more, there’s a Ninja Power gauge that fills as blows are landed that grants a number of different special attacks to deploy. As the game is played, characters are also slowly upgraded via a point system not unlike an RPG. Expand each character’s health, learn additional attacks, and so on while progressing through the campaign.

If there’s a shortcoming to any of this fun it’s in the grab, slam, and throw mechanics. In Turtles in Time on SNES these attacks proved invaluable for helping to manage space on the battlefield. Here, these attacks feel largely neutered and less effective, with the slam attack in particularly proving to be the least useful of the lot. There’s a visceral thrill to seeing enemies careening towards the screen, but it would have been great if these attacks gave the player greater control over the arena.

There are also a handful of glitches that are still afflicting Shredder’s Revenge despite having been updated since launch. Players will freeze in midair, on occasion, which can lead to unavoidable hits from the enemy. In one instance the game froze, forcing me to back out to the home screen and reset. Finally, there’s a rather glaring grammatical error that can make challenges confounding. To illustrate, the game might declare that getting hit more than twice in a stage will cause them to fail a challenge, but in reality the second hit is all it takes to flunk out. This typo is present in every stage and is worth patching out, in case anyone at Tribute is reading this! It isn’t the end of the world, but all of these quirks take a wee bit away from an otherwise splendid experience.

One particular aspect of Shredder’s Revenge that really tugged at my heartstrings was the presence of the original voice actors for the four turtles. Cam Clarke (Leo), Rob Paulsen (Raph), Townsend Coleman (Mikey). and Barry Gordon (Donnie) are all back in their iconic roles. I hadn’t heard the turtles’ voices in many years, but the second the characters started speaking in-game it felt like being a kid all over again. Sure, the guys all sound a tad older than they did all those decades ago, but who cares—for many players around my age, these are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It was wonderful hearing them in action once more.

Finally, for those wondering about multiplayer in Shredder’s Revenge, up to six players can join in at the same time. Dropping in and out is a breeze whether played online or off. There’s always enough enemies on screen to keep all combatants busy, but things can also get whipped into a frenzy very quickly. Losing track of your character isn’t uncommon, but the mayhem is part of the fun. I only wish that friendly fire, or the ability to hurt fellow players, had made a return like it used to be in the old TMNT games. It adds an extra level of challenge (or mischief, depending on how you play) but is alas not present.

Shredder’s Revenge is a triumphant return for the Ninja Turtles. For all the reinventions and expansions of this classic property, there’s nothing quite like the original. Seeing the spirit of both the cartoon and Konami’s classic games so faithfully reproduced here was wondrous to behold. At the same time, Tribute Games has also managed to one up the games that came before it with a sharper combat system that allows for all sorts of creative ways to take down foes. Boss fights lack some of the nuance to defeat that rank and file grunts provide, but the spectacle of these battles makes up for that. Shredder’s Revenge is available via the eShop, but there are a number of ways to get hold of the game physically, as well. No matter how you play it, the heroes in a half shell are worthy of your time.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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