With loads of easter eggs and nods to genre-defining classics, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is the ultimate throwback for fans of TMNT: Turtles in Time and the TMNT arcade game. Additionally, a host of critical gameplay enhancements amplify the appeal for a modern audience.
- + Refined, retro-inspired gameplay
- + Outstanding visual presentation
- + Multiplayer is beautiful chaos
- + Slapping soundtrack
- Incredibly short
- Netcode is inconsistent
As someone who grew up playing video games in the '90s, I have an enormous soft spot for side-scrolling beat 'em ups. At one time, this bombastic sub-genre was even confidently one of the biggest around. Captain Commando, Final Fight, Streets of Rage, and countless more dominated platform mindshare on both Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. The number of brawlers released in the early-to-mid '90s was staggering.
Frequent trips to my local Blockbuster video provided plenty of opportunities to play these side-scrolling beat 'em ups. While I generally enjoyed the "move to the right and punch" gameplay loop, I certainly had my favorites, especially when it came to licensed titles. Standouts like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage, and most importantly, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time were constantly in rotation on my SNES. Sadly, as design principles and player expectations shifted, this once-legendary sub-genre faded into obscurity.
Thankfully, we are experiencing a beat 'em up resurgence. Notable titles like Streets of Rage 4 have reinvigorated the formula through modernized controls, enhanced visuals, and quality-of-life enhancements. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is yet another current-day brawler that pays beautiful tribute to the past while embracing contemporary game mechanics. This bright, flashy side-scroller is a dream come true for fans like myself who cherish the days when Turtles in Time reigned supreme and stands as an unapologetically chaotic multiplayer title for participants of all ages.
Our review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is based on the Xbox Series X version of the game with a code provided by Dotemu. The publisher did not see the contents of this review before publishing.
TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge — What you’ll like
At its core, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge plays precisely how you’d expect a retro beat 'em up to play. Choosing from a cast of seven iconic characters from the mutated turtle universe, you’ll battle through a series of linear, side-scrolling stages that culminate in an over-the-top boss encounter. With destructible scenery, gangs of heavily armed Foot Soldiers, and bountiful environmental hazards, fans of this sub-genre will immediately feel right at home. Thankfully, Shredder’s Revenge also refines the classic gameplay to deliver a brawler that feels dramatically superior to its predecessors.
|Category||TMNT: Shredder's Revenge|
|Xbox version||Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One|
|Play time||5+ hours|
|Xbox Game Pass||Yes|
Welcomed new mechanics like dodging, ally revives, and expanded super attacks enrich the fundamentals established in entries like Turtles in Time. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge also augments the flow of combat with an impressive variety of attack and ability types while adhering to the basic principles of the past. Our seven heroes even have unique stat points and attacks that present a confident distinction between playable characters. There are so many subtle yet meaningful additions incorporated into this spiritual successor. The short and sweet of it is that the action in Shredder’s Revenge feels so damned satisfying.
The excellent gameplay of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is accompanied by lush, vivid visuals packed with meticulous details and hilarious easter eggs. The art style of this frenetic brawler combines 16-bit pixels with brilliant Saturday morning cartoon-inspired flourishes to marvelous effect. Titular heroes like Donatello, intimidating villains like Bebop and Rocksteady, and even background creatures like mischievous monkeys all manage to pop thanks to carefully constructed character models and robust animations.
I also adored the assortment of memorable stages in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge. From the rough-and-tumble streets of New York to a prehistoric blast from the past, players can expect their turtle antics to unfold on a rich tapestry of stunningly designed levels. And for longtime beat 'em up fans with keen eyes, a handful of cameo characters inspired by noteworthy genre contemporaries are sprinkled throughout these locations. Because who can forget the wacky adventures of the weapon-wielding Punk Frogs?
And if engaging combat and sumptuous visuals weren’t already enough, Shredder’s Revenge boasts an absolutely killer soundtrack. The importance of music in this side-scrolling action game is immediately solidified with the opening cinematic, which features Mike Patton of Faith No More and Mr. Bungle belting out his signature vocal stylings for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song. From here on out, it’s a nonstop auditory banquet of infectious chiptune, catchy hip hop, and ear-worm-worthy power metal. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge doesn’t pull any punches with its music.
You can certainly enjoy all the aforementioned amenities in singleplayer. However, where Shredder’s Revenge excels is in its chaotic multiplayer. With up to 6-player local or online multiplayer, you can wreak havoc as a wall of unstoppable turtle force with friends. Multiplayer-centric mechanics, revives, health sharing, and team attacks also incentivize jolly cooperation. I haven’t had a chance to push the game to its limits with a full 6-player squad, but it was endlessly entertaining decimating hundreds of enemies with a few friends.
TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge — What you won’t like
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge features two primary game modes. Story mode wraps the 15+ stages of the game into an expanded packed with a world map and optional side quests. And Arcade mode strips the experience down to its most classic linear progression. While there is undoubtedly more content presented here than in predecessors like Turtles in Time, some players may find the single-playthrough length rather disappointing.
You can complete Story mode in under two hours, including all collectible-driven side quests. An RPG-lite progression system for individual characters and stage-specific challenges offers significant replayability. Still, ultimately the value will be determined by how repeatedly you aim to see this brief campaign through. For players like myself who will be re-experiencing Shredder's Revenge dozens of times with friends, you'll likely be pleased with the arcade-inspired length. However, if you're hoping for a meatier package, you'll find yourself a bit underwhelmed.
One of the most exciting announcements regarding Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge was the confirmation of 6-player online multiplayer. Netplay allows you and a respectable number of friends to smash Foot Soldiers from the comfort of your respective couches. Unfortunately, the netcode so far is inconsistent. Often our squad loaded into stages without a hitch, but several times we were forced to reboot the game to re-establish a connection to the host. While the drop-in, drop-out multiplayer alleviated the sting of these disconnects, it stands as a worthwhile criticism.
TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge — Should you play?
For fans of '90s side-scrolling beat 'em ups, especially Turtles in Time, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge is everything you could want from a spiritual successor. The gameplay you know and love is effectively refined and updated to appeal to modern sensibilities, and the retro-inspired music and visual presentation beautifully represent an essential era in gaming. Shredder's Revenge educes the simple pleasures of smashing everyone and everything in sight with your closest friends.
Players unfamiliar with this genre may find the content offering on the lighter side, and inconsistent netcode slightly dampens the unfettered joy of online play. However, it's impossible to downplay how genuinely fun this brawler feels. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge is a refreshing throwback filled with fan service, fantastic gameplay, and of course, turtles who are also ninjas. And, for Xbox players, Shredder's Revenge is launching day one on Xbox Game Pass.
Teenage Mutant Turtles: Shredder's Revenge is scheduled to release on June 16, 2022, for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, and PS5.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge is a magical combination of retro-design, modern enhancements, and thoughtful fan service. A must-play for fans of brawlers.
Miles Dompier is a Freelance Video Producer for Windows Central, focusing on video content for Windows Central Gaming. In addition to writing or producing news, reviews, and gaming guides, Miles delivers fun, community-focused videos for the Windows Central Gaming YouTube channel. Miles also hosts Xbox Chaturdays every Saturday, which serves as the Windows Central Gaming weekly podcast.
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