Stellar graphics, music, gameplay, and level design all combine into what looks to be a modern TMNT game that perfectly taps into its old-school roots

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge Preview — Cowabung-again!

Stellar graphics, music, gameplay, and level design all combine into what looks to be a modern TMNT game that perfectly taps into its old-school roots
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For fans of old school beat ‘em up action games, it’s hard to overlook the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. From standup arcade cabinets to home consoles like the NES and Sega Genesis, the TMNT side-scrolling brawlers became beloved favorites that have remained popular decades later. 

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection is bundling up many of these old-school experiences later this year, but Dotemu (Streets of Rage 4) and Tribute Games (with members that worked on Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game) are set to release something entirely new for longtime fans of the Turtles and newcomers alike.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is slated for 2022, and it’s set to channel every bit of that nostalgic action that made players fall in love with this genre decades ago. After sitting down with a demo featuring two levels and six playable characters, I’m happy to say the developers have captured the magic.

Shredder’s Revenge immediately catapults you into the 80s arcade scene. The game opens with a stylish animation featuring classic characters and a rocking title track that could have been pulled straight from a 1990s Saturday morning cartoon. That sets the tone for what’s in store. Alongside a pixel art style, those highlights make the entire experience pop with classic flair, working together to pack the punch of a retro brawler with the quality-of-life improvements of modern titles.

Six different playable characters were available in our hands-on demo: Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo, Raphael, Master Splinter, and news reporter April O’Neil. Each character features their own weapon type and stats that slightly change traits like speed and power.

TMNT: Shredder's Revenge Screenshot

These tweaks over previous entries in the long running “series” seem small, but picking a character with abilities that match your specific playstyle can make a noticeable difference in the flow of things. I played as all six characters during my time with the demo, with each one delivering a unique spin on combat that adds just enough variety to the experience.

As you fight your way through rounds of Foot Clan, an attack meter builds up earning you ground, air, and kick special attacks that are distinctive to each character. While replaying levels as a different character might not fundamentally alter the overall experience, these special attacks offer a nice touch of variety to switch things up.

One of the biggest takeaways from my time with the demo was how well the game played. Where a something like Battletoads might feel a bit slow to respond at times, Shredder’s Revenge feels accurate and tight from beginning to end. The controls are extremely accurate and responsive, giving you the opportunity to really nail the right moves to deliver devastating attacks on your opponents.

The demo featured two levels, each following the same classic formula: drop-in, beat up some baddies, and find a boss fight. The first level, “Jaw-Breaking News,” took place in an office building/TV studio, bringing plenty of opportunities to kick equipment at enemies and pick up pizza to replenish health or boost power before facing off against Bebop. The second level, “Big Apple, 3pm” followed the Turtles out of the studio and into the streets, chasing down Rocksteady and his crew as they stripped cars for parts along the way to their hideout.

“Jaw-Breaking News” featured cameras and set pieces like cameras scattered throughout the stage, providing the opportunity to give them a kick across the screen and send enemies tumbling. Lights on the ceiling could fall and crush anyone unfortunate enough to be below them while the Foot Clan could bust through a door with boxes and TVs ready to launch at the Turtles.

“Big Apple, 3pm” delivers its own set of environmental tricks with exploding barrels scattered in key locations along with Foot-Clan-driven cars and motorcycles that can fly across the screen with one misstep. Between these two levels, opportunities to interact with the environment really made each one feel alive in its own way.

It’s something  I hope continues in the full game. There’s plenty of replayability when all of these things combine, whether you’re jumping in for a solo session or using the drop-in co-op with a friend.

TMNT: Shredder's Revenge Screenshot

As someone who didn’t grow up on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, my expectations going into Shredder’s Revenge were low. Thankfully, it’s now become one of my most anticipated games of the year. The team’s goal was to use the 1987’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as inspiration for a new entry and so far, they’ve nailed every element.

Stellar graphics, music, gameplay, and level design all combine to create what looks to be a modern TMNT game that perfectly taps into its old-school roots. For fans of side-scrolling brawlers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is certainly one to keep your eye on when it launches later this summer. For hardcore fans of classic TMNT games, it should be on the very top of your list.

[Note: Dotemu provided the demo copy of TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge used for this preview.]

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Samuel Adams
Samuel Adams is a lifelong fan of all things gaming. Sam lives and breathes the latest news and trends in the industry, playing the latest releases and living in the world of shooters, RPGs, and indies. When he's not playing, Sam is an avid runner and creates videos and podcasts across a variety of platforms focusing on gaming culture, news, and the Xbox ecosystem.