If you’re a fan of couch co-op, chaotic online multiplayer or fans of the turtles themselves then I highly recommend Tribute Games’ addition to the franchise.
Shredder’s Revenge at its bare bones is a side-scrolling beat ‘em up that takes you across 16 nostalgic levels chock full of enemies you might remember from the 87’-96’ animated series and beyond to an exquisite soundtrack that blends retro, hip-hop and rap into a gameplay experience you aren’t soon to forget… or put down. You might even clock that the original turtle voice actors have reprised their roles for this trip down memory lane.
Playing as either one of the four turtles, April O’Neil, Master Splinter or unlockable character Casey Jones (All with their own personal stats and special attacks that reference iconic fighting game characters… I challenge you to find them all) you will battle against the Foot clan, Triceratons and Mousers amongst the mainstay villains as you race to take down Krang and Shredder in a battle across the streets (and skies) of New York City and the future.
Personally, I believe a successful side-scrolling beat ‘em up is dependent on a stellar soundtrack that compliments the action and theme of the levels to inspire a feeling within the player that goes beyond the gameplay and extends itself well past its playtime - creating fond memories that stimulate the senses. With this in mind, Shredder’s Revenge is a perfect example of a soundtrack done well as developers turned to multiple sources including the incredibly talented Tee Lopes who composed and arranged music for Streets of Rage 4’s Mr. X Nightmare DLC, Sonic Mania and Metal Slug Tactics (to name a few). Even Wu Tang’s own Ghostface Killah and Raekwon offer their creative powers for the song “We ain’t came to lose” which plays to the backdrop of the showdown against Shredder.
Suffice it to say, this incredible soundtrack is sure to have something for every audiophile out there. A personal highlight is Panic in the sky! By Tee Lopes and Jonny Atma. As the name suggests, flying through the skies on hoverboards to a full vocal soundtrack that screams 80’s rock (in the most corny and endearing way) whilst capturing an inner child’s joy and thrill for adventure has ingrained itself in my mind and it’s not going away anytime soon.
What’s going to stick in my head the most about Shredder’s Revenge however is the chaos of up to 6 player co-op online or locally (dependent on platform) and the bonding power it possesses. Not since the incredible Streets of Rage 4 have I been able to play a game with a family member and enjoy a trip down memory lane as we battle the forces of evil to a stellar soundtrack that mixes the Turtles known penchant for rap and hip-hop while still paying homage to its retro roots with cameos and references galore.
If I have any criticisms about Shredder’s Revenge, it is one that brings contention along with it. This game is incredibly unforgiving and (To use an old arcade phrase) “Coin hungry” as enemies have very little openings for safe damage or tactics and will always cut short any combo’s you might pull off by batting you away or having an “invincible state”. It’s a style of gameplay that pays homage to its arcade roots with the classic Turtles in Time and I can understand its firm stance on being a game that wants to take you back to your childhood in as many ways as possible… no matter how frustrating. On the Gnarly difficulty you will take a lot of damage from seemingly nothing and the game will punish you for not stocking up on your ninja power for a screen clearing special attack. There’s also one exclusive skill to story mode that felt less than practical for my time with Shredder’s Revenge; the “Radical” power up that for the cost of all 3 ninja power bars, damage is increased. The trade-off here is that you still take damage and can’t use any special moves for the duration of the effect which makes this skill less than ideal for the reasons mentioned above, you simply can’t keep enemies still for long enough to capitalise.
While there isn’t an extensive list of modes available to sink your teeth into, both Story and Arcade mode have enough differences and replayability to keep you coming back for more well after your first playthrough.
As expected, levels are the same for both modes but there are some slight differences that are likely to be overlooked by most players. Story Mode presents you with a progressive level select similar to how it used to be for Super Mario World with some divergent paths to cameo character missions that unlock after you find them hidden in the levels. These cameo missions ask you once again to find specific items within the levels for a point bonus that contributes to your heroes’ “Power Level”. In Arcade mode, these collectibles and hidden cameos are traded in for sushi box items that increase your point score which turn out to be incredibly useful in multiplayer to keep your partner from falling behind in the extra life department. So, take note of where you find anything in either mode, they don’t move around.
“Power Levels” are also exclusive to Story mode and is attributed to each hero individually. Essentially, it’s a point-based system from defeating enemies and collecting special items that allows you to unlock new skills and features at certain milestones. In Arcade Mode however, you’ll have everything from the get go, minus the ability to store more than one ninja power bar and the “Radical” power up. Because of this, Arcade mode asks you to make use of (and abuse) the taunt ability wherever possible to ensure you always have a special skill ready to get yourself out of a sticky situation.
Shredder’s Revenge is a love letter to the T.M.N.T legacy and its fans and while it might not provide anything unique in terms of gameplay for a newcomer to the series, it has more than enough for the people who’ve grown up with the franchise and that’s ultimately who this game is really for.