Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is a love letter to the era of licensed belt brawlers, with Konami’s legendary Turtles in Time being a clear inspiration. With co-op being a huge selling point for this beautiful beat-’em-up, we decided to play through as a trio – and present our review as a roundtable to reflect all our thoughts, rather than any individual. So, grab a slice of pepperoni pizza and get ready to dig in for our verdict!
Sammy: Okay, Shredder’s Revenge is the latest project from Canadian developer Tribute Games, who I suspect some of our readers will remember for developing the Metal Slug-inspired Mercenary Kings. I thought that game was okay, but it didn’t really blow me away. This TMNT title is much better – it really captures the best of those classic Konami coin-ops, but it’s also been modernised in all the right areas. I mean, shall we start with the visuals?
Stephen: We absolutely should, because they’re truly excellent. The game aims to recapture the look and the spirit of those arcade titles, and it does so with flying colours. The art is clean, chunky, and vibrant just as it was in the 90s, but there’s so much additional flair on top of that. Every character looks great, and the backdrops are stuffed with personality throughout. The reverence for the game’s inspiration comes pouring out of every pixel.
Sammy: One thing that impressed me is the amount of environmental variety, too! You start out in a TV studio, with all the props and backdrops you’d expect present and correct – but you get to visit some other really cool locations along the way. I’m not going to spoil anything…
Robert: Yeah, I think the game’s made with a real appreciation for everything TMNT and it absolutely shows! From the unique animations of each character, to the seriously impressive amount of detail throughout every level, it’s an amazing, er, tribute. Oh, and adding to what Sammy said about the levels, there are 16 of them, each taking between five and ten minutes to complete. For me, the game never outstayed its welcome, but it didn’t feel overly short either. It’s pretty much the perfect length for an old school beat-’em-up. Every stage ends with a boss fight, too, which is always a spectacle. Some of the boss designs are really cool, especially later on.
Stephen: And I think one thing we haven’t mentioned yet is the music, which feels spot on. Composed by Tee Lopes, best known for his work on the soundtrack for Sonic Mania, each funky, upbeat tune exudes real energy. These are backing tracks that’ll get you amped up to kick some shell, and fans will definitely appreciate the odd callback to older TMNT riffs. Even the music on the overworld map is catchy, and I really enjoyed when vocals would kick in once or twice. The soundtrack doesn’t need to go this hard, but it does.
Sammy: I absolutely love the overworld map, which serves as a brilliant link between all the different levels Rob alluded to. We’ve got to talk about the co-op as well, which supports up to six players in total! We played through with just the three of us and the netcode, which I believe is using rollback, is just super tight – we were playing online, but it easily felt as sturdy as local. And you can drop in and out very, very quickly, which is nice. The only issue I encountered was a bug which made my character disappear a couple of times, but I assume that will be fixed. I think you encountered that, too, Stephen?
Stephen: Yeah, like you say, it’ll likely be patched. But even if it’s not, it took us about 15 seconds to solve; it’s really easy to fix! What did you think of the combat, Rob?
Robert: Oh, well, the combat’s rock solid. On a fundamental level it’s super simple – on the easiest difficulty you can basically blast through every level by mashing square – but the important part is that it feels great. I think old beat-’em-ups can feel overly stiff by today’s standards, but Shredder’s Revenge is fast and comparatively fluid. You also have a dedicated dodge button, which in my opinion is always a huge plus.
Sammy: Agreed on the dodge. I also think there’s more to it than initially meets the eye, with all of the characters having unique moves and playstyles. Now obviously there are no complicated combos here, as you mentioned, but there are a lot of contextual mechanics that even allow some characters to work as a team. The only thing I didn’t like about the gameplay were the hoverboard sequences. Like, they’re fine, and they of course need to be there for nostalgia purposes – but they’re probably the part I’d least look forward to on a repeated playthrough.
Stephen: Yeah, I guess, and in Story Mode at least, they want you to replay it, don’t they? So, persistent progression gives you a little something extra to work towards each time you play. To elaborate, earning points will increase each character’s power level, with each threshold unlocking things like extra hit points, additional special attacks, and 1-Ups. These upgrades carry over to subsequent playthroughs, ensuring you’re that little bit better equipped each time. This system isn’t present in the more challenging Arcade Mode, but it’s a neat way to extend the game’s lifespan and to encourage you to try out each fighter.
Robert: And I do think it’s well-built for replays, because like I said earlier, the game’s length is perfect, and because of that, I can see myself playing through it a few times just for the fun of it. But yeah, if you’re a one-and-done kind of player, then Shredder’s Revenge is going to last you roughly two hours and that’ll be that.
Sammy: We probably should also mention that it’s maybe not quite as fun in single player as it is in co-op. I had to dive out of our scheduled co-op session right before the last level, which was so annoying, but I went back to finish it up on my own and it wasn’t quite the same. I then played through a few more levels solo just to try it out, and it still obviously looks beautiful and is a lot of fun, but the real appeal is in co-op I think. Fortunately, it’s so well-executed with such strong netcode that it’s easy to buddy up with friends or even strangers.
Stephen: Yeah, and I mean, while I agree that it won’t last forever, and that playing solo is a step down from the co-op experience, Shredder’s Revenge achieves exactly what it sets out to do. Fans of beat-’em-ups, TMNT, or both will get a huge kick out of this, and for someone with not much nostalgia for the turtles, I had a blast.