Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge Preview – Pizza Power!

In the 1990s, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were ubiquitous in side-scrolling beat scenes. Whether you’re talking about 1989’s arcade game, 1991’s Time Turtles, or countless other brawlers starring everyone’s favorite Half-Shell Hero, Konami’s creations in the ’80s and ’90s are legendary color.

However, just as the side-scrolling beat game genre has faded, so has the luster of Turtle’s Legacy. As IP boomed in the late 80s/early 90s, TMNT’s fan base shrunk dramatically, and just like movies, TV shows, and merchandise, the brand’s game output slowed. After 1992’s Hyperstone Heist and 1993’s Tournament Fighters, Turtles still appeared in games, but few received any critical acclaim. Even Ubisoft’s 2009 remake of Time Turtles was heavily criticized.

Now, with talent working on titles like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Streets of Rage 4, and the critically acclaimed 2007 TMNT game Boy Advance, Dotemu and Tribute Games hope to restore the cobabunga king to his former gaming glory. We caught up with the company behind Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge to see how the game actually works, and talked to the developers about how they hope to make the video game Turtles fans have been dreaming of for the past 30 years.

When the evil shredder attacks…

Announcing his disbelief through a trailer, Mike Barton sings the 1987 cartoon’s theme song, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, designed to appeal to early fans. Many aspects of the game — aesthetics, character design, enemies, and more — draw heavily from that period, including the beloved TV series and its accompanying toy line.

In my demo, I watched members of Dotemu and Tribute Games play three full stages. The first phase of “Shocking News” took place in the Channel 6 news studio. It was here that Shredder began his revenge plan, part of which included reorganizing the Krang. In keeping with the cartoon inspiration, each stage plays like a separate TV show episode, telling a story through environments, enemies, boss fights, and cutscenes between stages. The music by Sonic Mania’s Tee Lopes also feels straight out of the ’80s and ’90s.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge

That era of inspiration permeates the gameplay, with fast, arcade-style action. Enemies appear on the screen and are defeated as fast as they appear. Just like in Turtles in Time, players can slam enemies back and forth, and even throw them at the camera.

This game may be all about nostalgia, but Tribute wants to offer fans more than just a hottest package. “The main thing we wanted to do in the game was try to visit locations we’d never seen before in 2D games, and things from the 1987 TMNT universe in the cartoon,” said game designer Frédéric Gémus. Not just a love letter to the TMNT franchise, but a love letter to an entire era.”

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge

Despite its nostalgic nature, Shredder’s Revenge achieves many quality-of-life improvements. For example, chain attacks are more fluid than the classic game, and in co-op, players have a window to revive downed teammates.

Shredder’s Revenge also offers two game modes: Standard Arcade and Story Mode. Arcade mode is designed to replicate the experience of the classic game, where you start with a limited life and you need to finish the game in one go. Story Mode flips the script, temporarily empowering characters by exchanging accumulated points for HP upgrades, extra lives, new moves, and special Aggressive Mode abilities that allow characters to progress. Story Mode also allows you to complete optional challenges in various stages, offering replayability and the option to go back to each stage.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge

half shell hero

While the first level was full of Easter eggs, the next level I saw (the sixth level in the game) “Mall Meltdown” was even more nostalgic. Fighting in arcades, players are seen as a massive nod to the arcade culture of the time. Eventually, Donatello and April O’Neal scrambled through the food court and shopping promenade to the arcade.

While the first level features Bebop, a familiar face to anyone who’s played Turtles’ past games, as its boss fight, this level provides players with an enemy that’s never been in the game before. Tempestra is an escape character from the video game that Leonardo became obsessed with in the 1990 cartoon, so it makes sense that she would appear in Shredder’s Revenge’s arcade arcade.

In this boss fight, the virtual witch summons digital projections of Tokka and Rahzar ooze secret. Once you defeat the mutant snapping turtles and wolves, Tempest becomes vulnerable. After repeating this cycle a few times, Tempestra is defeated and the mall is safe.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge

The last stage I saw was the 10th level in the game called “A Few Screws Loose”. Here, players walk through a back alley into an electronics store filled with tube TVs and plenty of mice. This time, Raphael was alone. Co-op mode is a join/exit mode where the game adjusts in real time whenever the number of players changes, and if you decide to suddenly invite three friends to join, you can adjust the composition of enemies on the fly.

In one memorable segment, Raff battles several enemies on the opposite conveyor belt. Dynamic bases and the fact that new smashable items keep appearing on the screen add a new dimension to the encounter. While the mouse infestation might lead you to believe that boss fights are against their inventor Baxter Stockman, the climax of this electronic expedition is against another robotic rogue: Metal Head.

Shredder’s techno-turtle has similar movements to the version players face in Turtles in Time, with full arms that can stretch and kick around the screen. He also joins a group of mouse-catchers who can defend himself while launching rockets. Metalhead’s moves don’t pose much of a threat to the player, and before long, the bot is unusable, and by the time my demo ended, Raph was eating a slice of pizza from his sai.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge

Cowabenga!

Everything I’ve seen and learned about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge suggests it’s intended to be the brand’s grand re-entry into gaming. It’s clear that the teams at Dotemu and Tribute Games have a lot of love for both the Turtles franchise and the side-scrolling fighting game genre.

After watching this team go through three stages, I immediately wanted to replay some of my favorite games like Time Turtles. Thankfully, with the recently released Cowabunga series, I’ll have the opportunity to refresh my memory and sharpen my skills as I prepare for Shredder’s Revenge, coming later this year.


This article originally appeared in Issue 345 game informer.