Disclosure: This is a brief editorial that focuses on the video game Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge and how the experience impacted me. For a full review of the game, please check out what my colleague Adam Vale had to say.
It was the fourth and final day of PAX East 2022. It’s always a fun time at that convention but it’s also a test of endurance. A lot of walking and a lot of social interaction can take a toll on an introvert like myself. I didn’t mind it though, especially after what I had just experienced. Right in my line of sight was the Dotemu booth, a place I made myself very familiar with from the moment I entered the Expo Hall at media hour. That’s because this booth was the main reason I came to PAX East in the first place: the demo for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge.
As I looked on and saw a crowd gathered around the big screen, I felt something in me. It started with my brain, then to my heart, and made its way to my tear ducts. My eyes started to water a bit and my lips quivered. But this was a happy feeling, a warm feeling. The sights and sounds were reminiscent of the first time I ever laid eyes on a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game.
I’m showing my age a bit here. I don’t remember exactly when it was, but it had to have to been either 1989 or 1990. I was a little boy at the time. Our family had just finished eating dinner at Weylu’s in Saugus, MA, a huge Chinese restaurant that no longer exists. Somewhere on the main floor was a small arcade room, and there were a lot of people huddled around one machine. That was my first time seeing it, the TMNT arcade that I would sink a bunch of quarters into over the next couple of years. I was wide eyed, seeing Michelangelo twirling his nunchaku at Foot Soldiers in the burning hallway. That was the first vivid image I had of the game itself. But I remember the excitement of that entire scene at that arcade. Looking at the people playing Shredder’s Revenge brought that moment back in time to me. However, this was more of something that was built up in me from playing the demo earlier at the convention.
On the second day of PAX East, Friday, April 22nd, I had the privilege of sitting down with the developer team of Tribute Games to play and discuss Shredder’s Revenge. Inside the booth in the corner was a comfortable black leather couch with room for three. I got to sit between Eric Lafontaine (marketing manager) and Yannik Belzil (narrative designer) as they walked me through the game. I picked Michelangelo and Yannik played as April O’Neil, while Eric answered my questions as well as pointed out some interesting observations of the game. One of my favorite little details was that they had Bebop shilling a ShamWow-like towel on one of the TV screens in the background of the game. I joked about the PTSD I had over seeing the parked cars on that “Big Apple, 3 pm” level (“I’m not falling for THAT one”). The game definitely plays to a lot of nostalgia, while having plenty of room for modern references. For example, April celebrates completing a level with a mic drop.
I just recently got my Switch copy of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection (be sure to check out Adam’s review of that as well) and immediately started playing the arcade game. It was a nice, warm feeling as it always is going back to that game, but it’s a different feeling than what I got out of seeing and playing Shredder’s Revenge. There’s just something special about that game. Tribute Games lives up to its name here, and did a great job with Dotemu to deliver a game that hits the right notes for us fans of the original series run as well as newer fans.