‘Shredder’s Revenge’ is a brilliant ode to peak ninja turtles

Peak “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” happened more than 30 years ago. Back then, the cartoon was the show you had to watch if you were to function in classroom society. You had to be up-to-date on the latest Shredder and Krang plot and maybe own the latest action figure.

The nostalgia for those days is so strong because the turtles blanketed every part of childhood, covering television, movies, toys and, of course, video games. That last element wasn’t perfect at the start but after a few tries fans got a good “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” title. Konami found the right genre in the beat’-em up and that tradition continues today with “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge.”

At first glance, it seems as if the developers at Tribute Games are aping the arcade game and the SNES classic “Turtles in Time.” That would have been a solid but unexciting effort. But if players dig deeper, they’ll find that “Shredder’s Revenge” is so much more. Some of the same developers behind the brilliant “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game” poured an inordinate amount of love into this project and created a video game that stays true to the franchise’s peak era while also advancing the genre forward.

Players fight Rocksteady toward the beginning of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge” but the challenges ahead delves deep into the cartoon lore of the 1980s. (Dotemu) 

Through 16 episodes, players will chase after Krang and Shredder and uncover their plot for New York. It’s not exactly deep storytelling and games in this category don’t offer much in terms of complex themes. What “Shredder’s Revenge” does do successfully is pull players through a trip down memory lane.

It’s a short but satisfying stroll, in which players will meet characters that were introduced through the cartoons. They’ll encounter familiar foes such as Rocksteady and Bebop but the campaign dives into the deep cuts of the animated series and includes allies such as the Punk Frogs and Neutrinos along with other adversaries such as General Traag, Slash and Leatherhead. Tribute Games mines the lore to give older fans moments of long-forgotten recollection.

Players can use a few non-turtle characters such as April O'Neil, Splinter and Casey Jones in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge." (Dotemu)
Players can use a few non-turtle characters such as April O’Neil, Splinter and Casey Jones in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge.” (Dotemu) 

What’s just as impressive as the devotion to the source material is the developer’s elegant way of advancing the game mechanics. “Shredder’s Revenge” is still accessible to players who just want to button mash their way to victory. Players have simple attack and jump buttons that can get them through the campaign, but if they want to gain a sense of mastery in combat, Tribute adds a dodge and super attack buttons along with a taunt.

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