There were two things I absolutely obsessed over during my childhood. One was the Ghostbusters movies which I watched on repeat over and over again, the other was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Being born in 1985, I didn’t quite pick up on them till I was probably four or five years old, but the animated series that commenced in 1987 catapulted the brand to monumental success. They may not be as popular as they were thirty-five years ago, but somehow these totally bodacious neon green heroes remain relevant. After the triumph of the TV series, we saw the first video game release drop onto pretty much anything available in 1989. NES, Amiga, Commodore 64 and more, but it became prominent and hugely dominant on arcade machines across the globe.
I could spend this entire review delving into the history of TMNT, but yeah, they are a pretty big deal. Never did I imagine that after 37 years after the first comic book entry of the Turtles, we would see a reimagined video game in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredders Revenge, but here we are. Does it recapture the nostalgia of the original flurry of games through the ’80s and ’90s? Let’s find out.
Introduction – “I love being a turtle”
When I saw that french developer and publisher Dotemu had their name stamped across this game, I was almost certain that we’d have an incredible game on our hands. If you’ve played the recent Streets Of Rage 4 alongside the Mr.X Nightmare DLC, you’ll know that it is a phenomenal modernisation of the popular games series. Having established a marvellous reception after their hand in the popular brawl em up, I had great faith in their involvement with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredders Revenge. Developer Tribute Games are aboard with this project and admittedly I hadn’t heard much about them. After some research, it was clear to see that some employees did have experience with the genre with former Ubisoft developers who have worked on Scott Pilgrim vs The World and TMNT for the Gameboy Advance.
If you’re on Xbox then you’ll have no excuse to at least dip your toes into the game since it has launched straight into the Xbox Game Pass catalogue. Campaign and arcade mode are the only two options to choose from when you commence the game. Personally, I’d suggest selecting campaign to start with since you can save progress and can take the game at your own pace. The campaign will give you a world map between levels so that you can go back and replay levels and check progress as you go along. Yes, there are collectables and challenges throughout which extend the replayability and longevity of your time out in the streets and sewers. Arcade mode presents more of a challenge, presenting the game as a continuous run-through with limited lives and continues for those who like to live life on the edge.
Gameplay – “We’re lean, we’re green and we’re mean!”
Now there are two types of players for gamers jumping into these scrolling beat ’em ups, button mashers and the know-it-alls who love to learn all the combos. Admittedly I’m a mixture of both but handily the team present you with the opportunity to run through the twenty combos on offer before you commence the game. It is worth taking a look through and attempting to learn and remember a few of these since it does bring an air of satisfaction when you manage to pull off some moves.
You have a selection of all four turtles to choose from alongside Splinter and April O’Neil when you pick your character, everyone has their favourite right? Mine is Raphael I’ll have you know. Surprisingly Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredders Revenge features not only a 2-6 player local co-op but online for the same amount of players as well. Rarely do we see co-op games with any more than four so this is a real novelty.
The campaign is the perfect go-to mode if you are a completionist as not only are there hidden collectables to uncover, but you can also level up your turtle to unlock new moves and abilities. The design team have done a sterling job at not only character design but hit detection and fluidity of movement. Dispatching enemies is extremely moreish and satisfactory with special moves being incredibly fun to implement and use when the moment arises. Every character has their own unique special attack with often cascades into a spectacular on-screen barrage of ensuing power against anything and everything on screen. The goal of each level is to power your way through to the end boss, some of which require precision and timing to defeat.
Graphics & Audio – “Woah…pretty philosophical stuff for a cartoon show!”
Before I played Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredders Revenge I had to go back and watch some videos for the 1989 original TMNT: The Arcade Game. It was an absolute masterpiece at the time and as a child being able to control characters from a cartoon you adore was astounding back then. Watching some YouTube videos for it made me realise not only how far visuals have progressed but also how well the original held up for its time. Even looking back now, it doesn’t look terrible at all. The art design team have done remarkable work at retaining the behaviour of the enemies from the original yet converting the graphical fidelity to today. Whilst what you see on screen looks and appears totally retro, the vibrancy and vividness of the colours shine through with fantastic levels and environments. Boss fights are often the highlight of each level each with their own on-screen introduction animations and personality.
Audio is also a huge strong point with each character expressing their own witty one-liners throughout. Bring with this an excellent soundtrack which made me instantly feel like I was back in the ’80s again. Everything in the sound department combined nicely with the overall presentation and complimented most of what was occurring on screen nicely. There were some explosive elements that came off a little underwhelming, but this is a minor complaint that didn’t really stand out too much.
In Conclusion – “Cowabunga!”
Well not only did I expect Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredders Revenge to scratch my nostalgic itch. It far outweighed and excelled my personal expectations. Playing this rewinded my brain back to my childhood and without a word of a lie made me slightly emotional. As someone who was a die-hard Ninja Turtles fan when I was only just learning to walk, talk and tie my own shoelaces, it just made me happy that the joy I felt growing up with these fictional cool green characters has not been forgotten.
Dotemu and Tribute Games have not only beautifully re-energised and crafted a well-loved retro title, but quite possibly have created one of the best games of 2022 already. Whilst the game can be clocked in 2-3 hours, it is a reminder that sometimes quality eclipses quantity, and that rings so true here. There is literally nothing to criticise with this game other than I do crave more, so hopefully, they may add additional characters and DLC further down the line as the game deserves it. This is the prime example of why Xbox Game Pass works so well as I’ll definitely be investing in this game once it departs the service. Not only is it worth every penny they are asking for at retail value, but it is also worth every second of your time. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredders Revenge is totally bodacious, gnarly and radical dude!
- Nostalgia shines through with beautifully reimagined visuals
- Local and online 2-6 player co-op adds serious replay value
- Soundtrack and sound effects do a wonderful job to compliment everything on screen
- Some online bugs which will hopefully be patched soon after release
- Might be a bit short for some players, but oozes quality in what is there