‘TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge’ is a kung fu barrage of arcade perfection

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge

Available on: PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Developer: Tribute Games | Editor: Dotemu

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are kings of brawlers, and “Shredder’s Revenge” is a powerful reminder of why the quartet has remained an icon for anyone lucky enough to stand side-by-side with friends and strangers in the 80s and 90s arcades.

Developed by Tribute Games, “Shredder’s Revenge” is a deliberate throwback to just about anything and everything in the 1987 animated series and its various media properties, from surprise cameos of the TV show’s characters to pixel-perfect reconstructions. close to the Playmates toy line as well as the franchise’s various arcade, Nintendo, and Sega Genesis video games, especially the four-player arcade from 1989. Except this time around, up to six people can play simultaneously.

From the first stage, a swarm of foot soldiers will kick you in the face, reminding the plastic and rubber joystick warriors that those arcade goons existed to snack on quarters. Rookies of the genre might feel overwhelmed by the bad guy crush, like a body hell bullet. But “Shredder’s Revenge” also arms the Turtles (along with reporter April O’Neil and their master Splinter) with more moves than they’ve ever had in past TMNT titles.

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Players have a standard combo attack, back attack, dodge forward and backward, jump up attack, a devastating special move that can be upgraded later, various throws and, of course, the kick. classic dive foot, an iconic move copied in various brawling and fighting games over the decades.

The story mode features light role-playing elements, a slimmer version of the developer’s previous work with the hit modern brawler, “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game.” Playing as each character and completing certain challenges will earn you points to progress through 10 levels, each with creepy little powers like another health bar or new special moves. This gives the game a surprising amount of replayability, as finalists will want to max out each character to level 10 by playing and replaying the 20 available levels, which players navigate through a “Super Mario World”-like world map.

These reruns are made even more enticing by finding surprising and perhaps long-forgotten supporting characters from the TV show. I totally forgot Vernon Fenwick, a devious, career-hungry journalist, but once his face appeared in frame, my brain unlocked an instant, renewed hatred for him. Each of these secondary characters have collectibles hidden throughout the levels, and finding them all earns you more points to level up each character faster and earn more lives.

Story and arcade modes (a version of the game without the chase feature) take you through an engaging brawler storytelling experience. TMNT’s original arcade game was unique in that its story unfolded as you played through the level, which in 1989 was the closest thing to an Uncharted-like cinematic experience. In this first game, a driller broke through April O’Neil’s burning apartment as players roamed through it, unearthing the first boss, Rocksteady. After his defeat, the Turtles progress through an unbroken series of narrative stages, moving from the apartment to the streets to the factories.

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“Shredder’s Revenge” follows that format to a roaring success, with crisp, luxuriously animated pixels bringing so much life to every frame. The first level is a fight through the April TV news channel. Infantrymen furiously type articles while writing articles – and suddenly jump on you. Other goons practice or cook in the test kitchen before attacking.

The next level takes place in the streets, where players see goons stealing car parts every few scenes, only to reveal that they’ve built the Turtle Tenderizer, a never-before-seen toy that only appeared in one of last NES games ever released, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project. Again, “Shredder’s Revenge” is full of surprises for longtime TMNT fans.

The third level is a throwback to the vehicle sections of arcade games, a high-speed highway chase that feels like a shooter. Waves of enemies come and go in patterns that require quick adaptation and reactions, backed by a Turtle-based rap that name-checks every character in the series – just one of composer Tee Lopes’ brilliant tunes, who composed the music for the beloved “Sonic”. Mania” of 2017.

I have already said too much. The rest of the game and its narrative surprises are best left for players to discover and enjoy. Each level throws in old franchise references and gags with the speed and fury of a good “Arrested Development” episode, complete with some of the Turtle moves. mimicking TMNT’s Tournament Fighters fighting games and classic battle re-enactments. It’s as if Tribute Games took a bunch of Turtles toys from the 80s and 90s, pixelated them, and set up battles – just like us 30s and 40s did with our toys when we were kids .

Enemies and attack patterns will also teach players how to use the various moves available. Right at the first level, kicking enemies act as a warning to watch the sides of the screen and dodge, while shield-carrying enemies encourage heavy attacks. A swarm of infantry will remind players to use special moves liberally, and you’ll notice that the attack meter fills up quickly and often, so there’s no point saving them. Aerial enemies encourage aerial attacks, while horned enemies will discourage the aforementioned dive kicks and instead push players to attack from behind. It’s to Tribute’s credit that “Shredder’s Revenge” tutorials these moves through gameplay and adaptive play, rather than holding hands through storylines – just one of the brilliant and subtle strokes of game design which elevates this above the arcade games it honors.

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Moves can also be chained together in wild combos with seemingly endless combinations. When the match ends, players will decimate the goons with the fury of a Hong Kong kung fu master, except fueled by pizza.

The only possible downside to the game is that its content is rather thin, only offering arcade and story modes. Casey Jones, the TV show’s brutal jock, is unlocked after beating the game, encouraging yet another run, but that’s considerably less than the recent “Streets of Rage 4,” also released under the Dotemu banner. . This game featured all the classic “Streets of Rage” characters upon completion.

But the base game is so strong that all Brawler fans will instantly find it among the best of decades, alongside ‘Rage 4’ and ‘Scott Pilgrim’.

“Shredder’s Revenge” achieves everything it set out to do and will go down as an instant classic for its genre. Regardless of the era, be it 1987, 1989 or 2022, this would be one of the most beautiful and exciting video game experiences of the year, refining an arcade formula as timeless as the turtles in time.