Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge nails it. I can’t say for certain what the it factor is, necessarily, I just know that I had one hell of a time with a hands-on demo of the game’s earliest stages. I should probably flag how effectively Shredder’s Revenge nails the tone of the 1987 animated TV series. Or how brilliantly it nails the feeling of those iconic TMNT arcade games released by Konami in the early ’90s. And I couldn’t possibly overlook how successfully TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge nails the positive vibes that the series is so famous for eliciting. It’s a rad time, man.
Developer Tribute Games and publisher Dotemu have both demonstrated a propensity for leveraging nostalgia, and for weaponizing the childhoods of anybody old enough to remember ringing in the new millennium. Dotemu resurfaced old obsessions with Streets of Rage 4 and Windjammers 2, and Tribute made what was old new again with Mercenary Kings and Flinthook. Now the pair has come together for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, and it’s clear that this upcoming beat ’em up is going to have an all-consuming affect on my friend group when it launches later this summer.
Everything old is new again
I was honestly a little taken aback by how cohesively all of TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge’s disparate elements come together. The Nickelodeon-appropriate visual style and Konami’s arcade-era gameplay, colliding with modern performance standards and a deliriously groovy soundtrack – not to mention the return of the seminal TMNT theme song (opens in new tab) given new life by Faith No More’s Mike Patton, which made being booted back to the main menu every time the damned demo ended a little easier to bear.
While I was in COVID-19 quarantine when the TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge demo was made available to me, meaning I was unable to sample four-player local co-op (online wasn’t available to sample for this preview), I was able to try all of the characters individually.
Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael are each equipped with distinct weapons and proficiencies, as you would expect, but that isn’t all that separates the heroes in a half shell. Their personalities and mannerisms shine through in their individual run, idle, and combat animations, and studying them closely amongst all the Foot Clan-created carnage is a real treat. April O’Neil and Master Splinter are also playable, offering a clear change of pace and power to the turtles – although the Casey Jones shaped hole in the roster can not be overstated.
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The attention to detail is a nice and unexpected touch, reflecting how much love and care has been woven through the fabric of Shredder’s Revenge. It’s undoubtedly a bit of a throwback, and won’t necessarily win any awards for originality, but there’s a comfort in the core design. Movement is tight, the combos are fun to execute, and the game looks and sounds phenomenal – what more do you want? Or perhaps the better question should be: what more could you want? I’m not necessarily going to tell you that this is comparable to a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time remake done right, but maybe it’s close enough.
The success of Shredder’s Revenge (of what I have played so far, at least) speaks to the power of the collaboration that lay at its heart. Not only between the genre veterans at Tribute and Dotemu, but the crew at Nickelodeon too. It’s clear that everybody involved in the production of Shredder’s Revenge loves the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – not as it exists today, necessarily, but the rambunctious and free-spirited version that the Gen X and Millennials among us will remember fondly.
Dotemu’s CEO Cyrille Imbert speaks with passion when discussing the era of TMNT the studios are collaborating around, and it’s great to see this translated so clearly into the near-final product. “I told Nickelodeon that if we were going to work on the Turtles, we would only work on the original design… That was one of the conditions, because that’s what we do at Dotemu,” Imbert told me last year.
He continued: “I have such fond memories of that era, of the TV show, and the toys – I had a lot of them, they were super cool. I know that I’m not the only one to really remember that era and the phenomenon that was the Ninja Turtles. That’s why we want to capture the feeling of the ’87 design, and create a game of the same quality and same appeal of the Konami games on arcade and console.”
If what I’ve played on TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge so far is any indication, then Dotemu and Tribute Games have achieved exactly that. There is no Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge release date set just yet, but it’s thought to be launching later this summer on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch – I look forward to smashing through it with three of my buddies on day one.