I’m glad this came out before the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Cowabunga Collection arrives this fall to make it irrelevant. After all, why worry about a game that invokes feelings of nostalgia when the games people are actually nostalgic for are readily available?
That’s not to say Shredder’s Revenge is a bad game by any means, and if you’re looking for what is essentially the sequel to Turtles in Time or The Hyperstone Heist, depending on which side you fought for in the Great 90s Console War, then by all means go ahead and buy it.
Much like Sonic Mania, this game continues the trend of retroactively filling in the gaps for what a 32-bit game would have been for this series. Not much of a surprise, seeing as how Shredder’s Revenge comes from the same developer that brought us Streets of Rage 4.
The graphics for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredders Revenge are a perfect combination of the classic cartoon show and retro video game pixel art. I’m not sure if the original voice actors were brought back or if they’re just sound alikes, but they match pretty well. The soundtrack is also pretty catchy, except for a random rap song at the end that feels out of place when Ninja Rap would have worked so much better.
At the time of writing, I have completed the story mode portion of the game and dabbled in the arcade mode, so consider this more of a first impression than an in-depth review.
Gamers have two options when deciding how to play. There’s a classic arcade style that is what everyone knows and loves, giving the player a limited amount of lives to get through the entire game. There’s also a story mode that separates the levels out, allowing players to drop in where they want. While players start the arcade mode with all their powers and abilities, the story mode has more of an NES Double Dragon feel where the player receives upgrades throughout the game.
Along with the four main turtles (you know who they are), players also have the option to select Splinter, April, and (after completing the game) Casey Jones. Unlike the class arcade game, each character plays slightly different and has unique moves, which gives players more incentive to play through the game multiple times.
Playing either online or in couch co-op, up to six players can join in on the fun. This appears to be the biggest selling point of the game. I have family coming in to visit soon, so the idea of us sitting down to play some classic turtles action helped move the needle on my decision to purchase the digital game for Switch rather than wait for the physical release.
It take about 2 hours to play through all 16 levels of the game, with the last level serving as a mega-boss fight instead of a typical level. While not terribly long, it does get tedious if playing in one sitting, as do most beat-em ups.
Playing on the Switch, there are no trophies, but the game has built-in achievements that warrant playing through the levels multiple times to earn them all. Of course, any that require not taking a hit during the entire level can fuck right off.
Players familiar with the game or 80s cartoon will also recognize the antagonists that serve as stage enemies and bosses throughout the game. It’s basically a greatest hits of everyone from the show.
Numerous Easter eggs and collectibles are there to grab during story mode. Each scene is just brimming with detail, too. There are also various characters that can be rescued, such as the weasel Vern and Irma who is the reason I know what Rule 34 is, and will trade you experience points for finding their corresponding collectible, offering a little more replay value.
Fair or not, the biggest criticism I have of games that are either updated versions of classic games or carrying on the torch of a dormant series is they make me think how much I would rather play the original game. As I’ve pointed out, there are certainly unique aspects of this game to appreciate, but the little nods to the previous games are more of a disservice to me.
My favorite non-Nintendo published game on the NES is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game. Most gamers tend to prefer the third one, but my allegiance lies here. I am familiar enough with the other games on the NES and 16-bit platforms, but that is the one I hold as the gold standard.
Technically, Shredder’s Revenge passes it in every way; however, I see myself playing The Arcade Game more often. I am sure it’s just personal preference, but it feels more streamlined and pure, plus it can be played through in about half the time.
Again, I don’t want to hate on this game. It does everything right! If you like the turtles and classic beat-em ups, go ahead and get it and don’t look back. It’s available on every platform, and if you have Xbox GamePass, it should be on there, so you have no excuse not to try it out.
If you want to hold off for the physical release I can understand, as I’m sure most gamers have enough of a backlog to deal with, plus you’ll get a free Personal Pan Pizza!