[REVIEW] TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge – Best served co-opped

We all like turtles and turtle-related stuff. Turtle wax. Turtlenecks, be it the cotton or the fleshy kind. But most of all, we love the pizza-munching, sewer rat-hugging, fresco-painting, statue-sculpting ones. And while I can’t speak for everyone, I’ve personally had a thing for them since the early ’90s, way before I discovered my own turtleneck. Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo had me glued to my tv screen on numerous occasions. Even though the TMNT’s influence faded over the years, the love for the old-school arcade-style games never did. And it’s exactly that love that’s being rekindled by TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge, a fitting tribute to the quarter-sucking beat-‘m-ups, taking you ‘back in time’.

If you’re a ’90s kid like me, chances are that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have made it to your memory log. These heroes in a half-shell were probably the only reason why you ever heard of the names Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael in the first place. Nobody cared about the renaissance artists they were based on and their great accomplishments. Fuck them! But the fact that notoriously slow creatures got trained by a rat to fight an armored dude with extravagant henchmen, now that was just radical. It was so radical that a tv show, a toy line, and video games sold like hotcakes. I mean, my neighbor kid even had a rather disappointing pet turtle called Michelangelo, which for some reason didn’t do karate and also never mingled with the pet rat.

Anywho, TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge is diligently trying to ride on the TMNT arcade games’ coattail. And it’s doing that in an excellent way, dare I say. While staying true to the essence of the original TMNT arcade games, developer Tribute Games did enough to make it more than just a carbon copy. In a way, Shredder’s Revenge is almost like your favorite pizza. All the necessary ingredients are there, but the chef added a few extra toppings to complement the original flavor. And before you know it, you’re drooling over the taste of your new favorite pizza, reminiscing over what made you love the original.

But hey, let’s just talk TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge, shall we? First of all, for all who haven’t been educated in the ways of TMNT… what is it? Like many TMNT games before it, Shredder’s Revenge is a co-op, arcade-style, side-scrolling brawler. Shredder – the infamous antagonist of our half-shelled heroes – is effing things up again. And not only is he doing that, but he’s also enabling every Foot Clan member to prevent you from disrupting his schemes. As always, the Turtles aren’t that easily deterred, and neither are Master Splinter and April O’Neill. If fists need to be swung to make Shredder and his henchmen understand, so be it.

That requires you to trod through 16 Foot Clan-filled levels. And even though the setup of them hardly gets mixed up, they’re all unique in their own ways. Littered with secrets to find and items to be exploited, none of them are boring. That, plus arguably the greatest arcade-throwback-inducing soundtrack, really know how to sell it. But I’d be lying if Shredder’s Revenge is just one of those wannabe arcade revamps. This is not one of those easy cash grabs that leans heavily on the feeling of nostalgia to make things work. Tribute Games has actually figured out how to freshen things up without ruining what’s already been established.

For instance, the playable characters – be it a Turtle, Splinter, or April – are way more flexible than you might remember them to be. Way back then – and I really mean way back – dodging and evading were things people had never heard of. Yeah, taxes maybe. But attacks? Unlikely. But in Shredder’s Revenge, dodging is an integral part of the package. Mashing buttons still makes up for the majority, but a well-timed dodge will help you big time. Because Shredder’s Revenge can get messy. Especially when you’re not rolling solo. In this game, it’s “the more, the messier”. Which isn’t a bad thing, by the way.

It does require you to stay on your toes though. If you don’t want to get trampled by, let’s say, Bebop and Rocksteady (or any of the environmental hazards that get thrown at you), you gotta think fast. You gotta be quick on your feet. And funny enough, that’s exactly where the level of detail shows. While every character basically has the same move set, they also have their very own pleasing taunts and quirks. Watching Michelangelo run like a dumbass will never fail to amuse me, but neither does Donatello’s “let’s whip out my Game Boy” taunt. It might sound like I’m totally fanboying over my childhood love forTMNT, but it’s these little things that put the cherry on top.

But as sweet as that cherry might be, it’s the cake underneath that counts. And that cake is pretty damn tasty, I can assure you that. Combat is simple yet satisfying, catering to the needs of any player type. Raph’s sais are quick and powerful but lack striking distance. Donny’s bo is quite the opposite, exchanging speed for reach. Hell, even April is good fun to play with, smacking the shit out of the Foot with her mic. Honestly, there’s not a single character that doesn’t play well. But I do believe that once you’ve found the one that matches your play style, all the others just won’t do anymore. And that’s not just because of the weapon you’re wielding. It also depends heavily on the unique skill set that every character possesses. Everything combined makes every character unique in its own way.

The thing is, I can go on and on about this. I can explain in every detail what makes Shredder’s Revenge an absolute must-play if you’re a TMNT arcade fan like me. But the truth is, no explanation of mine can really do it justice. TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge is not something you should read about. It’s something you should experience first-hand. But I can tell you this, Shredder’s Revenge is a delicious retro-style dish best served co-opped. Going at The Foot Clan, Bebop, Rocksteady, Krang, and many more can be done solo, but that would be a wasted opportunity. Quite frankly, it can be somewhat dull. Nah, this is a game that begs to be played by a group of friends, be it locally or online.

So don’t be shell-fish. Don’t even be half shell-fish. Get your hands on TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge today and show everyone what made the ’90s great. If you’re playing on Xbox and have Game Pass, you can even jump in free of charge. And if you’re not, it’s not like it’s gonna break the bank. For less than $25, Shredder’s Revenge will serve you plenty of Foot to beat up with your buddies. Hell, I think I’ve spent more on that in quarters at the arcade in my childhood.

Best thing since sliced pizza
The Radical
Captures the vibe of the oldschool arcade games perfectly...
...and does so without copping out on added features
Gnarly soundtrack, my dudes
Heavenly chaotic when played in full occupancy
There's a character with its own unique traits, fitting every play style imaginable
The Cowabunghole
Playing solo is not even nearly as fun
The levels - even though they all look different - don't always feel different
I couldn't figure out where to 'insert coin' at the GAME OVER screen