Animation action

TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge mixes classic arcade action with modern fun

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is stuck in an awkward position: it has to play like the old arcade beat-’em-ups developed by Konami, as you fondly remember them, but it has to feel modern at the same time. After spending time with a two-tiered demo of the new Ninja Turtles game, it’s clear that developer Tribute Games is riding this katana-sharp stalwart, but not foul-feeling katana.

The Shredder’s Revenge send the ninja turtles – Donatello, Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael – and pals Splinter and April O’Neil on a mission to stop Shredder, Krang and the evil plans of the Foot Clan in a classic arcade-style brawler. The first two levels take place in a television studio held hostage by Bebop the mutant warthog and on the streets of New York, where Rocksteady the rhinoceros man is wreaking havoc. In addition to offering deep beat-’em-up combat, The Shredder’s Revenge is peppered with great visual humor, thanks to scene-specific Foot Clan ninja animations and subtle environmental storytelling.

In one area of ​​the game, Foot Clan ninjas tapped keyboards in offices, ostensibly but desperately trying to blend in. In another section, they did sit-ups on what looked like yoga mats, but turned out to be shields. Elsewhere, Foot Clan ninjas emerged from an industrial freezer, tossing huge frozen hams into blocks of ice. Level two begins, humorously, with the Foot stealing the tires from the Turtles’ iconic van, ensuring the rest of the game is an on-foot adventure.

Image: Tribute Games/Dotemu

What developer Tribute Games seems to have captured best about these classic TMNT games, beyond the humor and colorful 16-bit aesthetic, is the pacing of the combat.

“We noticed from the classic [TMNT] games that what made combat fun wasn’t necessarily the combat moves themselves, or the combat mechanics, it was more the pacing of the game,” said Jonathan Lavigne, co-founder and game designer of Tribute Games, to Polygon in an interview. “The game[s] played very fast, and the way the enemies would enter the screen [in formation] and being defeated was really quick. So having that rhythm and that good rhythm was really important.

“And then for combat, that’s where we could modernize the mechanics and make it fresher with combo systems and all the bells and whistles of modern fighting game mechanics like juggles, ground bounces, cancellations and stuff like that. These are simple things to achieve, but there is a lot of depth.

Splinter, Raphael, and Donatello battle ninjas and a Mouser in a screenshot from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge

Image: Tribute Games/Dotemu

Each playable character has a trio of stats (range, speed, and power) that govern how they play, making them distinct. An all-rounder like Leonardo feels noticeably different from the speedy April O’Neil or the slower but punchy Splinter. And each character has a move pit just deep enough to keep the process of beating dozens of foot soldiers interesting. There’s also a combo counter, and stringing together 100-string combos is rewarding. And while I was playing The Shredder’s Revenge In single player, the game offers a cooperative multiplayer mode for up to four players. The more players, the more foot soldiers in the mix, which adds variety to the game.

Co-op adds additional gameplay tweaks; players can use moves that require two players to succeed and can hit five to split health.

Variety and replayability are obvious concerns for a beat-’em-up inspired arcade game in the modern era. But Lavigne says there will be plenty to keep players interested, including a story mode and multiple difficulty levels.

“The main [source of replayability] that’s how the story mode is structured,” Lavigne explained. “You have incentives to replay levels multiple times, [because] there are side challenges and NPCs you can find that are hidden in different levels. NPCs will give you some [fetch quests] and there are collectibles hidden in the levels. So you can try to replay them and find all that stuff. And when you find them, it gives you extra points [that] are used for a progression system.

Leonardo and April O'Neil high five in a screenshot from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge

Image: Tribute Games/Dotemu

Players will also be able to engage with this lightweight progression system in The Shredder’s Revengethe story mode, unlocking new moves along the way. And Tribute Games’ take on TMNT’s beat-’em-up is simply bigger than classic Konami games, Lavigne said.

turtles in time had, I think, 10 levels, and we have 16, so it’s not quite double that but it’s a bit longer,” he said. “It’s still doable in one sitting, I think, [but] it is made to be played in several sessions.

As for the future of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s RevengeLavigne and DotEmu CEO Cyrille Imbert said there’s no shortage of ideas for additional playable characters, but the announced six heroes are, for now.

“Of course, we have tons of ideas for other characters, but you know, creating a character takes a lot of time and attention to detail to make it really unique and interesting to play,” Imbert said. “So it’s hard to make more and more characters but of course it’s in our head and we will try depending on the success of the game and depending on the evolution of the production.”

“There are a lot of options if we decide to do that,” Lavigne added.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is coming to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One this summer. It will bring with it a new version of the classic TMNT theme song, sung by Mike Patton of Mr. Bungle and Faith No More.