TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge Review – Smash Up Half Shell


TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge

Nostalgia is a powerful weapon these days. Huge corporations wield it like a hammer, hammering the past into our skulls from every angle. That said, I am by no means immune to this tactic. You want to exploit my memories of a mediocre children’s cartoon? It totally works! Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is a shotgun blast from days gone by, and I love it. If you’re in the throes of fond feelings for turtles and their adventures, buckle up. You are in a one-turn shell.

Every image in this game is full of references. Some are subtle, like the level design. Others are more direct, like each character. If you’ve ever played with one of these toys as a kid, expect it all to come back quickly. The van? The airship? Bebop and Rocksteady? It all triggered deep, deep memories. I even found myself casually flipping through eBay listings for old toys. On the other hand, what if you’re too young to remember that crazy time of commercialized storytelling? Will any of these uncut nostalgia hit the same? If nothing else, the animation is excellent.

Pixel art is an evolving form of expression. The sprites of yore are nothing compared to what we have now. For example, Shredder’s Revenge is incredibly smooth. Things like attacks, effects, death animations, and taunts are all expressive and powerful. Not only your characters, but all enemies move with refined grace. This makes the simplest actions enjoyable to watch and perform. Like old cartoons, tangible objects and static backgrounds have two distinct aspects. Luckily, both are crisp, clean, and colorful. It’s not quite the bright but murky world of the 1987 kids’ show. It’s a drastic improvement, an HD extravaganza replacing muddy VHS captures.

Cartoons come to life

Not only do the fights look great, but they feel great too. Combat is a surprisingly deliberate affair for a side-scrolling beat ’em up. Story mode gives you plenty of room to experiment, teaching you the right path to follow with every defeat. There are also a lot more moves to play with than I initially thought. Jumps, strikes, dodges and supers follow each other with ease. Before long, you’ll be pulling off simple but effective combos, crushing even the toughest opponents. Oddly enough, stage bosses are much easier to defeat than grunts.

TMNT: Shredder's Revenge

Yes, the game can be difficult. But there are ways to mitigate this. I played the story mode on medium difficulty and struggled a bit. But once you’ve found your groove and/or your favorite character, Shredder’s Revenge really opens up. The speed, range, and power of each are different enough that you should at least try out each fighter. You can also team up with a friend or five to try and even the odds. Honestly, local co-op is how games like this are meant to be played. Whichever way you choose to approach this game, you’ll find the difficulty curve nuanced and accessible.

Lots of great songs here

From the open, Shredder’s Revenge has a terrific soundtrack. The songs are a mix of hip hop and Saturday morning rock. Apparently one of them is from the Wu-Tang clan??? The theme song is still perfect all these years later, and even the unvoiced bits are fun and punchy. The dubbing is… a little weird? The developers have gathered a group of original actors. It’s great to hear the turtles so familiar, but it’s also super disorienting. Donatello and Leonardo sound like old men, period. But maybe they always have. It’s crazy that we didn’t notice that when we were kids, that’s what I’m saying.

Shredder’s Revenge has a pretty specific target audience. But if you fall into that narrow sweetspot, this game is amazing. The animation is amazing, the action is well designed, and the attitude of the turtles is on full display. If you’re not an old-school TMNT fan with a fondness for beat ’em ups, maybe you can appreciate the pixel art. The current game design is also excellent. It’s just hard to imagine what this game looks like without nostalgia goggles. Even if you’ve never seen a single episode of this extremely dated cartoon, check this game out. I promise TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge is a blast either way.

***A Steam key was provided by the publisher***

Good

  • Combat is simple yet compelling
  • The animation is incredibly smooth
  • Overflowing with nostalgic charm

86

The bad

  • Limited, non-nostalgic appeal
  • Mixed feelings about voice acting
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