The 1980s introduced many bizarre things to the world of popular culture. One of them is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise: four anthropomorphic turtle brothers trained in ninjutsu. Back in the day, these mutagen-splashed critters defended a shoulder-padded New York City in comic book, action toy, cartoon show and video game form.
And now that squad is back with full retro pizzaz (or in their case, pizza) in the new 2D beat ’em up game Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge.
The story is, well, exactly what you might expect: bad guy Shredder and his Foot Clan have set about nefarious plans in the Big Apple. Among other things, they’ve taken control of the Statue of Liberty in an effort to transform it into a battle robot called the Statue of Tyranny. (Of course.) And it’s up to the Turtles to fly into action and clear the streets of all the thugs and big bosses that have taken over.
The game itself is a straightforward side-scrolling beat-‘em-up offering with an ‘80s vibe. Up to six players can play as TMNT characters—including Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, Michelangelo, April O’Neil and rat sensei Splinter—and brawl their way through more than a dozen colorful stages inspired by the classic cartoon.
Gameplay-wise, players fight with simple button-mashing combos that allow them to execute kicks, throws, spins, slide kicks, aerial leap attacks, and a few special attacks against typical Ninja Turtle baddies such as Rocksteady and Bebop. There are also some clashes that scroll by quickly as the Turtle heroes man skateboards and hoverboards to battle against baddies in vehicles. It’s all in an effort to take out the scores and scores of different enemies who run, stream, leap, motor and fly in at the heroes from all directions.
Each character sports his or her own specific stats when it comes to reach, attack and speed. For instance, Splinter and Raphael pack the biggest wallop while April O’Neil is the fastest and Donatello sports the longest reach.
In addition to Arcade mode—which plays much like you would expect an old-school arcade game to play—TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge also comes with a Story mode. It gives players a variety of objective-based quests that not only helps gamers to improve their character’s skill sets but also offers lots of in-game collectables.
This game features good (but cool) Turtle teens against a bad world. And selfless goodness wins the day.
The game presents lots of old-school video game action that can be challenging without feeling too difficult for younger players. And TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge offers a great chance for dads and moms to impress with arcade video game skills from their heyday.
As you might expect from the “beat-‘em up” genre title, this game is all about constant slam-bam encounters with martial arts hits and kicks and tons of whizzing weapons—including whips, swords, throwing stars, metal sais, axes, polearms and the like.
These cartoony clashes feature weapon flashes between combatants, but no mess. Fallen characters simply disappear. The Turtles also have special flashy moves that can bounce a foe toward the camera, flip them into the air for repeated strikes and the like.
The Turtles and their pals can take damage, of course. But when their hit points start to wane, they flicker red and eventually take a knee. When playing solo, that means returning to a level’s beginning for another try. But when playing with others, a slice of pizza from another teammate can revive the fallen good guy.
When playing with five other players, the screen can become frenetically packed with characters, making it hard to keep track of where you are and what’s going on. But it’s still whacky fun.
If you dislike games packed with cartoon characters beating each other silly, well, this is likely not the game for you or yours.
But if you’re in the mood for reminders of sweet arcade fun, this could be the love letter to ‘80s gameplay you’re looking for. (And you don’t even need a stack of quarters to play.)
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.