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TMNT: Shredder's Revenge review: Arcade brawler perfection

The Turtles are back, and it's totally tubular

TMNT: Shredder's Revenge
(Image: © Dotemu)

Tom's Guide Verdict

TMNT: Shredder's Revenge could be mistaken for a long-lost '90s arcade game thanks to its era-appropriate production values and tight beat 'em up mechanics. It's the sequel to Turtles in Time that was never released.

Pros

  • +

    Solid arcade brawler gameplay

  • +

    Imaginative levels

  • +

    Numerous combos to learn

  • +

    Fun to play with others

Cons

  • -

    Only two available gameplay modes

TMNT: Shredder's Revenge Specs

Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Price: $35
Release Date: June 16, 2022
Genre: Beat 'em Up/Arcade brawler

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge is effectively the long-lost sequel to TMNT: Turtles in Time. In fact, it feels like it came straight out of the early '90s, thanks to its sprite-based graphics, era-appropriate music and environments that hearken back to pre-Giuliani New York City. If it weren’t for the modern 16:9 aspect ratio and online features, you could be forgiven for believing this was a legitimate long-lost classic.

If you grew up playing TMNT video games as I did, then you’re going to absolutely love Shredder’s Revenge. I’m not sure if modern audiences can appreciate this game the way we old-school arcade dwellers can, but it’s fun for just about anyone. Like Streets of Rage 4, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is both nostalgic and fresh. It’s everything fans of the franchise and arcade brawlers could have hoped for.

TMNT: Shredder's Revenge review: Story 

TMNT: Shredder's Revenge follows the basic storyline the franchise is known for. Shredder and Krang’s menagerie of soldiers and hired mercenaries are tearing up New York City in their quest for world domination. It’s up to the four Ninja Turtles: Leonardo, Donatello, Michaelangelo and Raphael – along with their master Splinter and allies April O’Neil and Casey Jones – to stop the bad guy’s plans.

The story unfolds via still images that pop up in between each of the 16 levels. You don’t get much in the way of dialogue, but it’s not exactly difficult to follow the simple story. People aren’t going to play Shredder’s Revenge for its deep plot, so this aspect shouldn't affect your overall enjoyment. You get just enough narrative to propel you to the following stage.

TMNT: Shredder's Revenge review: Gameplay 

Shredder’s Revenge is a pure Beat ‘em Up in the vein of Final Fight, Streets of Rage and of course, Turtles in Time. You and up to five other players make your way across a variety of locations and battle against a never-ending horde of foot soldiers, robots, mutants and aliens.

Story and Arcade are the only two available modes. They’re effectively the same in that both have you going through the main narrative. The main difference is that you get unlimited lives in Story and a limited amount in Arcade. Arcade mode with its limited amount of lives is great for players who want to make Shredder’s Revenge feel more like a '90s beat ‘em up. But if you’re like me and no longer have the patience for limited lives, Story mode is there for you.

These two modes serve their respective purposes, though I would have liked an additional mode or two that offered a bit more variety. A boss rush mode, for example, would have been fun.

TMNT: Shredder's Revenge screenshot

(Image credit: Dotemu)

The game plays very much like Turtles in Time. Almost all of the combos are animated in the same style, even down to how you throw enemies at the screen. There’s only a single attack button, but you’re able to unleash a ton of combos by pressing it in conjunction with a direction on your controller’s analog stick or d-pad. As you progress and level up, you’ll unlock new combos. It’s possible to rack up combos in the triple digits, especially if you’re playing with a group of friends.

As you dispense enemies, a super move meter underneath your health bar fills up. When filled, you can use your character’s unique super move to dish out a lot of damage against a single enemy or give yourself breathing room when swarmed by mobs. Pressing the taunt button instantly fills the super move meter, though doing so momentarily leaves you open to attacks. It’s also possible to combine characters’ super moves.

It wouldn’t be a proper TMNT game without pizza power-ups. Most pizza boxes found across levels refill your health meter, but some will give you power-ups such as unlimited super moves or a more powerful version of your super. Pizza power-ups can get you out of potentially sticky situations.

TMNT: Shredder's Revenge screenshot

(Image credit: Dotemu)

Shredder’s Revenge never becomes boring, despite the simplistic gameplay. The diversity of levels and enemies is the chief reason why. From busy newsrooms, crowded offices, filthy NYC sidewalks and even otherworldly environments, there’s always something new to see. The multiple main and sub-bosses you face at the end of each level also add to the game’s variety. There’s a lot to see on these mean streets.

TMNT: Shredder's Revenge review: Multiplayer 

You can play the entirety of Shredder’s Revenge solo. But if you want to maximize the fun, you’ll want to link up with others via online multiplayer or local co-op. Previous TMNT games supported up to four players but this one tops out at six.

I only got to play with two others, but having three players on the screen became chaotic. I can only imagine the madness that’ll ensue with six players on-screen at once. But I suppose the more the merrier.

TMNT: Shredder's Revenge review: Visuals and sound

Where Streets of Rage 4 utilized a modern hand-drawn art style, Shredder’s Revenge uses sprite-based graphics that evoke the look of classic arcade brawlers. Character animations are smooth and instill characters with personality. The colorful environments come to life thanks to all the small details contained within them.

TMNT: Shredder's Revenge screenshot

(Image credit: Dotemu)

Sound and music serve to further bring you into the experience. Every punch, kick, slash and explosion sounds appropriately punchy and brutal. I especially like hearing the characters talking and yelling as they bash their way across levels.

The music also amplifies the already abundant amount of nostalgia. The TMNT theme song is heard throughout, along with many tracks that sound like leftovers (in a good way) from Turtles in Time. The best song in Shredder’s Revenge, “We Ain’t Came to Lose (opens in new tab),” comes to us from legendary Wu-Tang Clan members Ghostface Killa and Raekwon. I won’t spoil when the song appears, but it’s one of the game’s highlights.

TMNT: Shredder's Revenge review: Verdict 

I've looked forward to playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge since it was announced. I knew it'd be great since it was developed by Tribute Games and published by Dotemu, the same folks who gave us Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game and Streets of Rage 4 (respectively). Though my expectations were high, this title managed to exceed them. Shredder's Revenge is legitimately one of the best games released in years.

If you're a fan of the old TMNT titles or simply want to see why people love this franchise so much, you can't go wrong with Shredder's Revenge.

Tony is a computing writer at Tom’s Guide covering laptops, tablets, Windows, and iOS. During his off-hours, Tony enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, reading speculative fiction novels, and spending too much time on Twitter. His non-nerdy pursuits involve attending Hard Rock/Heavy Metal concerts and going to NYC bars with friends and colleagues. His work has appeared in publications such as Laptop Mag, PC Mag, and various independent gaming sites.