TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge Review
Nostalgia is a powerful weapon these days. Huge companies are wielding it like a hammer, pounding the past into our skulls from every angle. That said, I am absolutely not 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 of days gone by, and I love it. If you’re rife with fond feelings for the Turtles and their adventures, buckle up. You’re in for a shell of a ride.
Every frame of this game is crammed with references. Some are subtle, like the level design. Others are more direct, like every single character. If you ever played with any of these toys as a kid, expect it all to come rushing back. The van? The blimp? Bebop and Rocksteady? All of it triggered some deep, deep memories. I even found myself casually flipping through listings for the old toys on eBay. On the other hand, what if you’re too young to remember this wild time in commercialized storytelling? Will any of this uncut nostalgia hit the same? If nothing else, the animation is excellent.
Pixel art is an evolving form of expression. The sprites of old are nothing compared to what we’ve got now. Case in point, Shredder’s Revenge is incredibly fluid. Things like attacks, effects, death animations, and taunts all feel expressive and potent. Not only your characters, but all of the enemies move with polished grace. This makes the simplest actions a joy to watch and perform. Like the old cartoons, tangible objects and static backgrounds have two distinct looks. Thankfully, both are crisp, clean, and colorful. This isn’t quite the bright yet bleary world of the ’87 children’s show. It’s a drastic improvement, an HD extravaganza replacing muddy VHS captures.
The Cartoons Come To Life
Not only do the fights look great, they feel good too. Combat is a surprisingly deliberate affair for a side-scrolling beat ’em up. Story mode gives you lots of room to experiment, teaching you the correct path forward with every defeat. There are also a lot more moves to play around with than I assumed at first. Jumps, strikes, dodges, and supers all roll together with ease. Before long you’ll be pulling off simple yet effective combos, smashing through even the toughest opponents. Oddly enough, the stage bosses are much easier to overcome than the grunts.
Yes, the game can be tough. But there are ways to mitigate this. I played through the story mode on Medium difficulty, and I did struggle for a bit. But once you find your groove and/or character of choice, Shredder’s Revenge really opens up. Everyone’s speed, range, and power are different enough that you need to at least try every fighter. You can also team up with a friend or five to try and even the odds. Honestly, local co-op is the way games like this are meant to be played. However you choose to tackle this game, you’ll find the difficulty curve nuanced and approachable.
A Lot Of Excellent Songs Here
Right from the opening, Shredder’s Revenge has a terrific soundtrack. The songs are a mix of hip hop and Saturday morning rock tunes. Apparently one of them is by the Wu-Tang clan??? The theme song is still perfect all these years later, and even the non-vocal tracks are punchy fun. The voice acting is… sort of weird? The devs rounded up a bunch of the original actors. It’s awesome hearing the Turtles sound so familiar, but it’s also super disorienting. Donatello and Leonardo sound like old men, full stop. But maybe they always did. It’s wild that we didn’t notice this when we were kids, is what I’m saying.
Shredder’s Revenge has a pretty specific target audience. But if you fall within that narrow strike zone, this game is amazing. The animation is incredible, the action is well-crafted, and that Turtles attitude is on full display. If you aren’t an old-school TMNT fan with a penchant for beat ’em ups, maybe you can appreciate the pixel art. The actual game design is excellent, as well. It’s just hard to imagine what this game looks like without nostalgia goggles on. Even if you’ve never seen a single episode of that 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***
- Combat is simple yet compelling
- Animation is crazy smooth
- Oozing with nostalgic charm
- Limited non-nostalgic appeal
- Mixed feelings about voice acting