As a kid growing up in the late ’80s, there were only 2 cartoons that I had to watch religiously, G.I. Joe and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT). My love for these two carried over to Toys, comics, and video games. I can still remember visiting my local arcade and making a quick run straight to the TMNT 4-player cabinet. My love for TMNT has never dwindled and only increased over time.
Thanks to Arcade1Up, I own that TMNT cabinet and have spent countless hours playing with my 2 young kids. My reasoning for mentioning all of this is because after booting up TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge, the game instantly pulled at my heartstrings and never let go. This is what we have been waiting decades for and this game will be held in high regard just like the TMNT arcade cabinet. Okay, enough gush, let’s get to the review.
There is no doubt that developer Tribute Games not only did their research to accumulate all the best elements of every TMNT game, but they also showed their love for the IP. The classic 1987 theme song we all know so well has been remade along with a beautifully animated intro reminiscent of the original cartoon series. The game menu design looks similar to TMNT: Turtles in Time but the overworld navigation is from the NES TMNT game. I love that they brought back these designs but freshen them up just enough to trigger a nostalgia flashback. These easter eggs along with subtle nods are sprinkled throughout the story mode.
Before starting story or arcade mode, you will need to select your hero. All four turtles along with April O’Neil and Master Splinter are selectable. Once you complete the story mode, Casey Jones will become available. I did wish Tribute Games would have kept this a secret as it would have been a nice surprise to see him just pop up and ready to bash some heads with his hockey stick. Each hero is beautifully animated with their own unique movesets, attitude and fight stance. For example, Rafael has this ready to fight grin on his face while swirling around his twin sai. Each hero also has a variety of voice lines. This is worth mentioning since the animated cut scenes do not and instead provide letter box text to progress the story.
Each mission takes place in different locations across New York City. Some resemble locations from previous TMNT games while others are completely new. You might find yourself in a familiar-looking sewer or racing down the street on a hoverboard while a hair metal track is fist-pumping you forward.
Or you could be in a heated boss fight while “We Ain’t Came To Lose” by Ghostface and Raekwon the chef is motivating you to stomp a mudhole in your foes. Each mission also has collectibles to find, challenges to complete and other odd happenings like having monkeys at the zoo throw bananas at your group while in combat.
When it comes to combat, you have a surprisingly wide variety to choose from. (Square) is your basic attack button which can be used for combos. (X) is your jump button (O) allowing you to perform rolls / evade forward or backward. (Y) is for special attacks, as you defeat enemies a meter will fill up and by pressing (R1) you can generate a special attack. Pressing (square & X) performs a get up attack or hold (square) to perform a charged attack.
Tapping forward will allow you to run and if you press (O) you can perform a running attack. However, my two favorite moves are not combat-related. The first is the ability to give your fellow teammate a high five by pressing (L1) the second is the ability to revive a downed teammate. If a teammate is downed, you have 10 seconds to run over and press (L1) which to no one’s surprise allows you to revive the hero by feeding him or her pizza. This is an awesome feature and comes in handy in later missions.
TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge supports up to six-player co-op which is insane. I played along with my 2 children so having three heroes along with waves of foot clan, mousers and other foes on screen was chaotic and an absolute blast. The game performed well with no slow down or frame rate drops that I could see. Unfortunately since I was playing pre-release, I was unable to find a full group of six online so cannot confirm the smooth experience will be the same with all characters on screen. If you are up for a real challenge, then jump into arcade mode. This mode provides a true arcade-like experience with limited lives, continues and no save progression. There is also a leaderboard.
TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge is what fans of the franchise have been clamoring for. It’s fun and easy to pick up and play while providing some challenging boss battles, includes all our beloved characters as playable heroes, and adds just enough new features to make it feel new while nailing the classic feel. This is by far the best modern TMNT game we have received in decades and as long as Tribute Games are behind the wheel, I have no doubt future TMNT games are in good hands.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge for PlayStation 5 provided by Tribute Games and Dotemu.