If you expect an honest, sober review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge from me: you can forget it altogether! Because that wouldn’t do this game justice. How much you love beating them up depends on how and with what you grew up. If you only know turtles as cute pets and slot machines mainly from Stranger Things, then you will have fun with Shredder’s Revenge, but it may not be easy to understand why colleague Dimi and I are so enthusiastic about this. At first glance, simple brawling game.
- the mood for an excellent beat them up again.
- used to like the Turtles games.
- have regular visitors who are happy about the well-groomed couch co-op.
- expect a size beast.
- are looking for a Turtles story staged and ready for the film.
- don’t have a heart for classic beat-them-up nonsense.
But suppose your eyes start to light up when you see games like Double Dragon, Final Fight, or Turtles in Time, and you can still remember how wonderful it felt to be sitting on the living room floor in front of the tube TV with your best friends and the Passing around gamepads. In that case, there’s hardly a game you’ll love as much this year as Shredder’s Revenge. Promised.
In the test, I’ll explain why Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is such a triumphant declaration of love and why it’s a league higher than the similar Streets of Rage 4.
A childhood dream come true.
To understand why Shredder’s Revenge triggers such feelings in me, I have to tell you a little anecdote from my childhood. When we were on holiday in the late 80s and early 90s, my family used to take the ferry from Denmark to Sweden almost every summer holiday.
But while my parents and siblings enjoyed the view and the sea air, I spent the four-hour crossing almost exclusively below deck and in the same place every year: the room with the slot machines! Watch Let’s Plays, 80s style. I didn’t even have the money to play myself – watching other people play was enough for me.
This brings us to the first point why Shredder’s Revenge makes my eyes light up so much: It looks exactly how I always dreamed it would look when I was a kid – including all the details that were left out for technical reasons at the time, my kid Fantasy but has added poetry.
Because the animation wasn’t that smooth at the time, the levels were much less lively, and the boss attacks were far less spectacular than Shredder’s Revenge is celebrating now. The loving homage is completed with countless gags and allusions that make Dimi and me laugh aloud repeatedly while playing through the campaign.
I’m not a fan of retro looks, but even I must admit that this lovingly pixelated and animated slot machine style works much better than the cartoon look of Streets of Rage 4.
That’s the way co-op works.
Playing Shredder’s Revenge also reminded me why I fell in love with beat-them-ups at the time, even though I was already into the opposite strategy and role-playing genre: co-op fun paired with the most accessible accessibility.
I can hand anyone a gamepad (forget keyboard controls!), and they’ll have a great time with me in Shredder’s Revenge. One button for attack, one for dodge, one for special attacks – that’s all it takes to spread cheek food on the easiest of the three difficulty levels and feel like a powerful ninja.
Clever co-op mechanics ensure that it’s fun even when you are up to five fellow toads that have entirely different levels of experience. During pauses for breath, you cheer on your partners with a high-five, which gives them life points, and whoever bites the dust can be revived within a short time window, including appropriate shouts of joy and gratitude.
Also, Shredder’s Revenge scales the enemy with the player crowd, so there are always more than enough beating portions for everyone. But my highlight is the achievement after level completion because that doesn’t automatically put the best number of points in the limelight, but also the toad that has suffered the most damage or jumped. Utterly irrelevant in terms of play, but or perhaps because of it, a good mood is guaranteed.
The depth of the game is in the details.
Despite all the accessibility: If you want to tinker – pardon – dig in, you will find more than enough game depth to polish the rusty beat-’em-up skills back to a high gloss. The control of the seven playable characters remains the same, but the weapons used in each case make a big difference in practice.
Donatello has the most extended range with his bo staff but needs to hit more often than Raphael with his sai daggers. The jumping and special maneuvers also differ depending on the selected character.
The additional tactical spice comes into play through the varied and interactive levels. You dodge herds of animals, throw ninjas down from skyscrapers or hurl shopping carts at them.
So if you want to fulfill all the optional challenges or string together a 250 combo for the corresponding achievement, you’ll have a lot to eat. Or just then! And so Shredder’s Revenge manages the feat that genre newcomers and professionals have the same fun, even if they fight together.
When little playing time is just right
It doesn’t matter whether it’s on my C64 or the 80s. Let’s Play: It only took 40 minutes to get to the end of the historical Turtles games back then. Shredder’s Revenge is much more extensive, but Dimi and I only needed more than two hours for the 16 levels.
And it may sound strange given my declaration of love, but it shouldn’t have been longer either. On the one hand, the game concept wears out quite quickly due to the genre: run from left to right, beat up opponents, run on, boss fight, and start over again. Yes, in Shredder’s Revenge, true to the retro template, there are also a handful of driving and flight levels that you complete with the hoverboard. The playful variance is still within narrow limits.
On the other hand, two to a half hours is the correct length for a fun co-op round with friends, without Shredder’s Revenge having to be repeated or filling the game time with annoying stuff. From start to finish, a lot is going on, and every level brings new ideas and gags and surprises with a boss fight that is as unique as it is spectacular.
If you want to spend more time in Shredder’s Revenge, start the story mode, which expands the 16 levels with an overworld map, challenges, and collection tasks. However, the latter, in particular, seems somewhat artificial because the challenge is ultimately limited to smashing all the objects into lumps.
More exciting is the possibility to play levels with other characters once they have been unlocked and level them up successively, which means you open more life points or additional maneuvers for them.
But even in story mode, Shredder’s Revenge isn’t a game you can get stuck into for a weekend. But one that you always like to dig out for an hour or two when you feel like an extra portion of grimace-banging. Or when the friends you used to sit with on the living room floor in front of the tube TV drop by.
The beginner-friendly but surprisingly deep and precise combat system ignites immediately, and the intelligent co-op mechanics motivate you to play together instead of just side by side. And the retro look may look old-fashioned on screenshots but develops an irresistible charm when it’s moving, even for me, even though I’m usually not very good with pixel graphics. No, Shredder’s Revenge is not a big game. But one that knows exactly what it wants and implements it almost perfectly and with a lot of heart.