By now you’ve probably seen the reviews for Tribute Games. TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge. It has a 85 on Metacritic and a 87 on OpenCriticFindings that solidify the general consensus among critics: Shredder’s revenge is the baddest beat ’em up of 2022 so far. I want to go one step further and say this lovingly crafted tribute to Konami TMNT games is exactly how modernized versions of classics should be made: leaning on the inspiration while expanding the scope. It’s a gnarly time bashing the Foot Clan, made all the greater for playing in co-op, and my partner enjoys it as much as I do. No seriously, we’re working on a third full playthrough right now, and it rules.
Published by Streets of Rage 4 manufacturer Dotemu, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge sees the four turtles and their friends – April O’Neil, Master Splinter and vigilante Casey Jones – navigating New York City to stop the Foot Clan and various iconic series villains from terrorizing the Big Apple. So it’s up to you, either alone or with friends (via local and online co-op), to kick a grenade by slashing, throwing and punching enemies while unlocking new moves, completing side objectives and eating as much pizza as possible.
The game draws plenty of inspiration from Konami’s old school TMNT Beat ’em ups, especially 1991s turtles in time. You’ll see all manner of tributes to these games as you make your way through vibrant New York City Shredder’s revengelike the way turtles might say, “This cave gives me goosebumps” when they fall into a sewage hole, or the ability to cast hapless Foot Clan fighters onto the screen in gloriously rich, pixelated colors.
These references are foaming Shredder’s revenge thick with nostalgia, however Shredder’s revenge also develops its own visual identity. For example, where in Konami’s games the turtles had many of the same movement animations, here each one walks in a delightfully distinctive way that communicates something about its personality. Still, the nostalgic appeal of the game is undeniable, and anyone who remembers going to an arcade or picking one up turtles Game in the 80s and 90s will probably have fond memories of button-pushing on Whoop Ass. Those same people might also remember how punitive Konami’s old bullies were, and for how long Shredder’s revenge has a harder difficulty option for those looking for a challenge, it’s a much more forgiving experience overall.
For starters, Tribute Games has greatly expanded the movement Shredder’s revenge. All seven playable characters can dodge left and right whenever they want, giving you the ability to evade danger when injured or reposition to expand combos. There’s a whole new set of moves here too, including arUppercut to intercept pesky enemies in the air and in the water, and a heavy attack that can break through enemy defenses. Then there are the unlockable upgrades you get as the characters level up, like a special attack that can be used mid-air, as well as more lives and extra specializationsial attack gauges. These additions make for a gameplay experience that’s both rewarding for button-smashers just looking for a low-key good time, and satisfying for technical wizards eager for high scores and some of the toughest built-in challenges in the game game, such as any damage.
Unfortunately, Shredder’s revenge is pretty anemic on modes. There are only two available – a story mode, which offers permanent character upgrades across playthroughs and closable side objectives to get more points, and an arcade mode, which sounds exactly like it. The campaign offers a bit of replayability, especially if you miss some of the objectives or want to try and level up a completely different character. However, as the core loop of the game boils down to one scenario – moving from left to right and beating up goons on your way to the boss –Shredder’s revenge can feel tedious and boring as you approach the second half of the 16 level story. After all, like the arcade games that inspired Shredder’s revenge
That’s not to say Shredder’s revenge is boring or without personality. Far from it. Tribute Games has brought tons of character to this adventure, from Foot Clan soldiers eating popsicles at the zoo to New Yorkers running in terror as Krang arms the Statue of Liberty. Each character also has their own idiosyncrasies, with Donnie whipping out a GameBoy during his taunts and Raph just scowling all the time. It’s a testament to Tribute Games’ attention to detail, as the game honors the past while also drawing from established lore to create something that oozes with even more life and attitude than its predecessors. I wish the studio would have taken a side from SebaGamesDev Fight’n Rage and alternate paths introduced, but that doesn’t detract from my enjoyment.
Because, as I said at the top of this blog, Shredder’s revenge is the baddest beat ’em up of 2022 yet. It stays a foot in the past but refuses to be bound by the constraints of the era that inspired it, and brings a classic formula into the modern age with aplomb . It’s awesome. Tribute Games should be commended for so deftly balancing the familiar with the fresh and new. TMNT: Shredder’s Revengedespite the lull in the later levels, is a game I won’t be giving up for a while…at least until River City Girls 2 drops.
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