Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge review: Shell of a time

Dotemu and Tribute Games have not only brought another fantastic classic-styled game to the table. It might be the best TMNT game of all time.


What can I say that you haven’t seen from the impeccable amount of reveals and hype Dotemu and Tribute Games have been giving us about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge since they first revealed the game in March 2021? This is the return of turtles to retro beat ’em up style that made them a legend of the arcades back in the day. More than that, it fits in a massive array of modern twists that Dotemu and Tribute have been working into games like Streets of Rage 4 and Panzer Paladin already. So I guess I’ll say one last thing you need to know: Yes, this game is as good as it looks and then some. It’s one of the best beat ’em ups I’ve played and it was well worth the wait.

I'll bet you know the drill

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge begins as most things do: with Shredder, his minions, and the robotic Foot Clan ninja going on a rampage in New York City. This time, however, April O’Neil exits the role of damsel to help them in the fight and even Master Splinter enters the fray as the turtles chase down a gallery of familiar rogues throughout the city while trying to stop Shredder’s evil plans to destroy it. The usuals like the piggish Bebop, rhino Rocksteady, and fly man Baxter Stockman make their return, but there are also some deeper cuts of TMNT comics, TV, and film lore that I won’t spoil here. What you need to know is that Dotemu and Tribute got deep into the pages of TMNT to bring both enemies and friends to each of its feature-rich levels.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention just how excellent the soundtrack is in this game. Tee Lopes returns from having worked on the music for Mr. X Nightmare DLC in Streets of Rage 4 to craft another incredible soundtrack. By this point, fans may have heard that Dotemu and Tribute Games got Mike Patton of Faith No More to do a cover of the main TMNT theme and tapped Raekwon and Ghostface Killah from Wu-Tang Clan to handle Shredder’s theme. However, Lopes also created a bona fide collection of musical bangers all his own. The level one music in this game is an instant earworm that I couldn’t stop humming every time I stepped away from the game. It just gets better from there, utilizing various hip-hop, rock, and electronica stylings with familiar TMNT tunes to make the Shredder’s Revenge soundtrack one that I would slay to have in my music library for listening even outside the game.

There are two major modes in TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge in the form of Story and Arcade Mode. In Story, you travel around the city like a Super Mario World map, chasing Shredder’s goons down from level to level. In each stage, you get several lives (replenished at the start of each level) and can level up the character you’re playing by defeating enemies to unlock new abilities. You can also go back and play each level as you please and there are even special challenges in each one that you can complete and special secrets to find that give some extra replayabillity as you learn the ins and outs of the game.

Arcade Mode is a more classic mode for those who just want to get in on some classic action. You play a run of all the levels with a limited amount of lives and continues carried over through the whole run. The level up system is gone here in lieu of simply giving you most of the skills you would earn in Story Mode by leveling up a character. However, it comes at the cost of some bonus perks like extra life points and the ability to use multiple super moves in short succession with an extended super meter.

TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge isn’t an incredibly long game. I was able to knock out Story Mode and roll credits in about three hours. And unfortunately, Story and Arcade are the only game modes on offer. Once you’ve beaten them once, it’s just a matter of how interested you are in going back to play again. That said, there are also the aforementioned unlockables, challenges, and leveling each individual character in Story to keep the fun rolling. There are also online leaderboards in both modes in which you can test your might against other players online in matters such as fastest clear time and highest score. All of these make for quite a few good reasons to go back and play some more, even if this fantastic ride feels like it ends all too soon.

More than just different colored bandanas

One of my least favorite things about the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade games was how samey each turtle played. They all had a short combo, a jump, a dive kick, and eventually a super. None of them really featured their personality past their weapons and colors. I’m happy to say TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge takes both the personality and the variety of fighting styles I crave and packs these turtle shells to the brim.

Each of the turtles has so much of their vibe in everything from their idle stances to the moves they utilize. Leonardo is balanced and precise in his dual-sword play where Michelangelo is fast as heck and goofy with a lot of his moves. Donatello utilizes the long reach of his staff to hit at distance where Raphael gives up range to hit like a truck. Meanwhile, April O’Neil and Splinter round out the cast with April featuring fast kicks and lots of camera gear in her attacks while Splinter utilizes a mix of martial arts with his walking stick and bite attacks. Every character feels fun to play and with voice casting behind them (the turtles are actually voiced by their 1987 cartoon voice actors), they respond to the levels in fun and interesting ways as you brawl with the Foot Clan.

There’s also an excellent built-in risk versus reward in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge that applies to both performance in a level and your overall capabilities. The more you strike enemies, the more you build up a combo meter and super meter at the same time. If you fill the super meter, you secure a stock to use a super move at will (each character has a different standing, jumping, and dashing super). Take a hit and you lose both your combo count and any incomplete bar of super you were building up. It makes for a fun refinement of what we had in Streets of Rage 4, challenging you to be proficient with your super use on the fly lest you take a hit and speckle your performance in a level. After all, a higher single combo count means a bigger score at the end.

Of course, this game was meant to be played with friends and while it’s fun solo, it’s a blast with others. Moreover, Dotemu and Tribute Games made it a fairly easy experience to bring your pals together whether you’re running Story or Arcade. At almost any time, you can pause to select the Party Up icon which allows you to scan your friends lists and invite buddies into the game online. You can also just join up locally by connecting a controller and jumping into a slot. TMNT’s six-player fracas works silky smooth, and looks like it was built on similar trappings offered in Streets of Rage 4’s netplay.

Cowabunga, Dude

I was never in doubt that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge would be good. Both Dotemu and Tribute Games have earned my trust over the years with excellent title after excellent title. However, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge exceeded my expectations not just as an excellent beat ’em up, but in fact one of the best I have ever played. The reverence to the source material and cornucopia of both well-known and deep cut TMNT references should be a delight to any fan, but the fighting, co-op, and music are just dang good too. Each character is fun to explore, the music will stay in your head long after you stop playing, and even if the game feels a bit short, there are plenty of reasons to go back. Simply put, this might just be the ultimate intersection of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fandom and beat ’em up arcade style. Not just a slice of pizza, it’s the whole dang pie.

This review is based on a PC review copy supplied by the publisher. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge comes out on June 16, 2022 on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at tj.denzer@shacknews.com and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

  • Use of TMNT lore ranges from obvious to deep cuts
  • Each character plays quite different
  • Fantastic soundtrack
  • Excellent combo and super system
  • Easy drop-in-drop-out local and online co-op
  • Fun reasons to replay and re-explore levels
  • It's over all too soon
  • Just Arcade and Story modes
From The Chatty
    • reply
      June 15, 2022 8:06 AM

      Cowabunga!! Can't wait to play this with my kids!

    • reply
      June 15, 2022 8:06 AM

      very excited to play this

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      June 15, 2022 12:25 PM

      Sounds good thanks for the review TJ!

      It's weird you didn't mention Casey Jones though. Was he not available in the review version?

      Also can the entire campaign be played coop?

      • reply
        June 16, 2022 7:29 AM

        Casey Jones has to be unlocked, but it’s easy to do so. But yes, every part of this game can be played co-op.

      • reply
        June 16, 2022 7:29 AM

        Casey Jones has to be unlocked, but it’s easy to do so. But yes, every part of this game can be played co-op.

    • reply
      June 15, 2022 1:12 PM

      PS, the game was revealed early LAST year March 10, 2021. Only bummer is it won't ship with survival, like they added with the SoR4 DLC, but I imagine they will do the same type of DLC with more characters + survival.

    • reply
      June 15, 2022 1:55 PM

      Pre-order (not really) reconfirmed! Dusting off the arcade stick after dinner. So looking forward to this. Will insta-buy it on Steam and almost certainly pick it up for the Switch since that's the couch co-op goto for the family. If it's quality, I have no issue buying it twice.

    • reply
      June 15, 2022 7:10 PM

      Prob going to pick this up!

    • reply
      June 15, 2022 8:14 PM

      Awesome. Looking forward to it

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      June 15, 2022 10:49 PM

      the only thing thats stopping this from being an A++++ is cross platform play.

      i have so many friends who just don't use steam and are loyal to their switch/ps/xbox
      its frustrating.

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