Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge Review - Screenshot 1 of 7

Hot on the heels of French developer Dotemu's huge success in revisiting the Streets of Rage series with the immaculate Streets of Rage 4, Montreal-based Tribute Games is having a crack at another early 90s arcade stalwart, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or Hero Turtles if the word Ninja seems to violent for you - as it did for British censors back in the day.

Dotemu takes up publishing duties here and the team at Tribute has worked on the likes of Scott Pilgrim Vs The World: The Game - which was excellent - and TMNT, a 2007 Game Boy Advance title that was also a bit of a cracker. We've had high hopes, then, going into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge, this is a publisher/dev team that know the genre well, they've got the skills to pay the pizza bills and, after spending the past week smashing the Foot Clan to absolute pieces, we can confirm that what they've served up with this one is right up there with the very best Turtles games we've played; it's a lean, green side-scrolling machine.

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First things first though, if you're expecting a revamped reworking of a classic arcade experience in the same vein as Streets of Rage 4 here, that's not exactly what's going down with Shredder's Revenge. Where Dotemu's return to Wood Oak City brought with it a thoroughly flashy new style that very obviously upped the ante for that series through wonderfully detailed hand-drawn visuals from the team behind 2017's Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap, here we've got an experience that works hard to stick very closely to the graphical stylings and gameplay beats of the original Turtles arcade and 1991's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time - at least on the face of things.

Of course, behind the outward façade, it's actually all very modern here too. This is wonderfully slick stuff, characters are large and well animated, there's a ton going on in the background at all times (check out those Foot soldiers playing Game Boy) and the streets and sewers you'll smash your way through are packed full of tiny details on closer inspection. At the same time, going back for a blast on a few of the best of the early 90s Turtles efforts and then returning to this, it's amazing just how close Tribute Games has managed to keep things in terms of visuals and atmosphere whilst adding all these bells and whistles. We personally wouldn't have it any other way, but if you were expecting some big graphical upgrade, if you're the kind of sicko who wanted photo-realistic Turtles, you may be a little underwhelmed, this is all about getting right back to the 90s and Tribute Games has absolutely nailed it in this regard.

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In terms of actual gameplay, well this is where the most outright changes have been made, the devs very delicately reworking, refining and adding to the core combat of the classic games, with the biggest additions being a dodge roll mechanic and super gauge that fills up as you batter Shredder's minions, giving you the ability to unleash character-specific special attacks that make short work of most enemies. The combat here, when you start to dig into it, has tons of opportunity to put together huge combos full of flashy moves, your Turtle protagonist able to dodge right through enemy onslaughts, slide, dash, pull off a sweet upwards attack that barrels into foes and more besides. All of this then sits neatly alongside the tried and tested button-mashing goodness of the older games, resulting in an experience that allows for easy-breezy play that's perfect for casual gamers and more studious approaches that result in fast-paced carnage and massive scores in arcade mode.

You can also now level up your chosen character as you work through the game's 16-chapter story mode, scoring points for kicking ass and completing some very simple collectible tasks that see you find newspapers, VHS tapes and a few other bits and bobs that are hidden in bins and other breakable background elements. Levelling up grants you more charges for your super bar, extra lives and a new special move and there's lots of replayability to be found in maxing out all seven playable characters - yes seven - you can take to the streets as all of the Turtles and April O'Neill, Shredder and an unlockable Casey Jones this time around.

Further to this, you've got up to six player online and local co-op to get stuck into, and adding a few extra players really ramps up the number of baddies onscreen, making for a much more frenetic and satisfying experience that's full of taunting, high-fiving and reviving each other with a hot slice of delicious pizza when things get tough. Blasting through this one on your own is still a super fun time, make no mistake, but these games really are designed to jump into with a bunch of other players, so thank the heavens that online matchmaking makes it as simple as pushing a button to fill up your fearsome fighting team with friends or internet strangers. Delightfully, even with all these combat additions and modern conveniences added into the mix, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge serves up a gameplay experience that's remarkably close in spirit to what we all played and loved back in the 1990s.

Remember grabbing Foot Clan members and flinging them at the screen in Turtles in Time? You can do that here and it looks and feels as good as ever (you'll even unlock a Mode 7 achievement for doing so!) The pancake graphical effect when you got run over by a vehicle or smashed by a wrecking ball? Yep, that's here too. You can fall into open sewers and see the whites of your eyes peering out from the darkness, kick the tops off water hydrants or burst flammable barrels to damage enemies, grab pizza to refill your health or chow down on a special pick-up that sets your Turtle careening around the screen to clear out foes. It's all here, just as you bodacious as you remember it, but now it feels cleaner, crisper and slicker than ever. It's like totally tubular, dude.

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With regards to enemy types, the nostalgia-fest continues, featuring all of the same old Foot Clan varieties returning alongside Roadkill Rodneys, Pizza monsters, Heligunners, Mousers and more. Bosses are a rogue's gallery of characters plucked from both the original TV show and comic books, with some re-runs of fights you've had before - none of which we'll spoil here - and you'll even get to duke it out on hoverboards during a handful of levels that see you dodge incoming obstacles whilst fighting off Foot soldiers and airborne enemies. Of course, whilst it's packed full of these old-school enemies and obstacles, there's thoroughly modern design at work in how they've all been placed here, there's a clever rhythm and flow to encounters and, alongside the improvements and additions made to combat, the whole thing rocks along at a pace that outdoes the older games. It's a beautifully balanced thing.

The main story mode, which tells a suitably 90s-style tale of Shredder, Krang and the rest of the crew attempting to wreak havoc on NYC, sees you spin around a delightful little world map in the Turtles' assault vehicle and blimp, allowing you to revisit levels at your leisure. It takes roughly three hours to crack through all 16 missions in a single sitting and there are seven different endings to enjoy depending on which character you've chosen to run with. The flow of levels here, once again, closely matches that found in Turtles in Time, with quick little action-packed missions that funnel you through a non-stop barrage of foes and then finish up with a well-designed boss battle that puts your skills to the test. It's a perfect setup for replaying solo or jumping into action-packed bursts of ninja goodness with a few pals.

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Arcade is the other mode on offer, and where the main story gives you a bunch of lives that refresh at the start of each new mission, here you'll have to make do with a limited number of credits and no saved progression, just like playing down the arcade after school - minus that great big Regal King Size cigarette hanging out of your adolescent mouth. Yes, it's true there's not exactly any new ground being covered here, nothing you haven't seen before or anything that's gonna blow your mind - and if we're being super critical it falls short in the inventiveness of its environmental obstacles when compared to its inspirations - but it's hard to really care when the core action is so devilishly addictive, when it so successfully recreates the look, feel and atmosphere of the classic games it's emulating. Is it all a little short-lived and repetitive overall? Hell yeah, but that's how these beat 'em ups operate, and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Honestly, the biggest compliment we can pay Shredder's Revenge is that for the entire duration of the thing we had a great big cheesy grin on our faces, it's an incredibly nostalgic trip and one that's an absolute blast to work through with a bunch of friends in tow. It takes everything that's great about the likes of Turtles in Time, The Hyperstone Heist, The Manhattan Project and the original arcade game and adds just enough modern convenience without altering the heart of what's made these games so enduring over the past thirty years (turns to dust). There's very obviously been a ton of work put into replicating the look and feel of the classics here and it's paid off big time. Will you enjoy it more if you're an old fart who played the 90s games to death back in the day? Maybe. Is it a game that newcomers can dive into and enjoy entirely on its own merits? Absolutely.

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With the original Turtles voice actors from the 80s cartoon series returning to their roles and a cracking soundtrack that effortlessly nails the vibe of the whole thing (it even features Ghostface Killah and Raekwon from the Wu Tang Clan rapping about Shredder!) this is another fantastic return to the golden age of arcade beat 'em ups that's managed to live up to our sky-high expectations, serving up a hot slice of delicious arcade action that's every bit as good as the very best of the classic Turtles titles from the 90s and honestly, in this day and age, who could ask for more?


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge is a lovingly crafted and supremely entertaining return to the glory days of early 1990s Turtles action. With a look and feel that painstakingly recreates classics such as Turtles in Time, whilst adding in a ton more detail, refining combat and giving you six player online/local co-op to boot, this is a fantastic slice of arcade beat 'em up nostalgia that old hands, diehard fans and newcomers alike can enjoy in equal measure. It is, in short, one shell of a good time.