I'm giving this game a 10. If you want to keep reading on why, that is totally within your rights. But it's happening.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge is the absolute pinnacle of work from developer Tribute Games, and publisher Dotemu turning in their A+ homework since they announced this last year. It's been a long wait to get our hands on it, and the anticipation was akin to leaving a wonderful pizza in the oven. It's so very very good. Shredder's Revenge has exceeded all expectations. This review isn't for everyone who has already played this masterpiece of a game, this is for that one person out there who "isn't into turtles", or "beat em ups", or is "waiting for the price to come down." Don't do that. It's silly talk. Stop it.
Based on the iconic 1987 animated series (which was loosely based on the 1984 comic series), TMNTSR is a spiritual sequel to the quarter munching Konami giant arcade game, and it is Turtles in Time's direct sequel. Yes, we remember the Simpsons, and yes, we even remember the 6 player X-Men, but something about the Turtles games never left our hearts. The arcade game wasn't available to home systems until Xbox Arcade became a thing. And Turtles in Time got a very controversial "Reshelled" release. Still, with all the beat 'em ups in history, there was never another that captured the magic like TMNT, and we never thought we'd ever see this level of turtle-magic again. Sure, we got a re-release for Scott Pilgrim VS. The World, and we got a dope sequel in Streets of Rage 4, so we were momentarily satisfied. And then it happened. The announcement of a game that I would eventually give a 10.
TMNTSR starts off with a direct hit of nostalgia, with a remake of the iconic TMNT intro. It's so damn good that I guarantee you'll watch the whole thing, and sang the theme, at least twice. When you push any button, your title screen comes up with some of the coolest pixel art I've seen in a long time. You push another button, and there's even more cool pixel art, with the option to select six of your seven playable characters. You have options here in the opening screen, and I think it's fair that each section gets it's own praise, because, and I don't know if you know this, I'm giving this game a 10.
Story mode is your go to. You can choose up to three difficulty levels. Chill is just what it says, Chill. Easy enemies, not too many things going on. A breeze through. Okay is your medium difficulty, and it shows. It gives you the challenge you need, but is still easy enough to get through the game without too much wear and tear. For that old school toughness, you are going to want to choose Gnarly difficulty. The hits hurt more, and there are more enemies on the screen for you to contend with. Of course the more players you have, the more enemies there are, but more on that later.
The game opens up with a how to play sequence (also available from the menu screen), and shows you TWENTY ONE different things you can do. Combos are easy, with 4 quick pushes of one button. Your super move is done by another single button tap. You can jump and dive attack in mid-air. You can dodge. You can jump and do your super move. You can throw foot soldiers out of the screen ala Turtles in Time. You can tech roll if you get knocked down. All of this is easy to do, and you probably won't use all techniques.
Then it's time to select your hero. And all 6 characters have different strengths and weakness. Donatello has the best range but is slow, whereas Raph is the strongest turtle, but has the least range. April's speed and Chun Li type moves are a LOT of fun to play with. A Super Mario Bros. 3-style stage selection screen is next, and you're off. There's a plot around "Da Statue o Liberty", and Bebop has taken over Channel 6 news. It's time to go kick some shell.
Each level is named, with a silhouette of the boss you'll fight. Shredder taunts you on the way in and disappears. Your character(s) run into action and you get to see what the setup is. The HUD is small but crystal clear. It contains your name, how many lives you have, health bar, number of enemies defeated and your super meter, or Ninja Power Gauge. For the most part, these are all self explanatory, but the two things you want to focus on are the combo count, and your enemies defeated. You start a combo meter for every enemy you hit without getting hit. The cool mechanism here is that once you build the meter, it's yours to keep, and you can bust out a super move at any time, but if you get hit, you lose the build and have to start again. You get one point per enemy defeated, even the bosses. And this is how you level up your character. Each character can be maxed out at 10. Your first upgrade, at 100 points, you get an extra hit point. At 250, you get a second Ninja Power Gauge and so on. I know this review seems all over the place, but why do you even care? It's getting a 10 out of 10.
The game goes on to have the most immersive beat 'em up game play I have ever played. Not just for a Turtles game, but for any game. Everything that happens in this game is for a reason. For starters, you recover your health with pizza, because, yeah. If you're playing with multiple players, there are party pizzas that recover everyone's health. There are pizzas that give you unlimited Ninja Power attacks. There are pizzas to turn you into a spinning wrecking machine. The foot soldiers do the silliest things, like you can catch them working behind a desk, or shopping, or selling sushi. When they see you, they drop everything they're doing to smack you around. You fight robots. You fight Triceretons. You fight those annoying mousers. You fight rats. The characters all have their own little quirks. April O Neil has a mic drop. Splinter meditates. And each character has a taunt too. Raph laughs at you, or the enemy. Mikey dances, cause he's a party dude. And if you fully complete your taunt, you get an automatic full Ninja Power Gauge. If one of your friends are "shell shocked" you can revive them by holding a button for a certain length of time. You can even do double team attacks, and if one of your buddies needs some life, you can give them a high five, and transfer some of your hit points to them. The bosses talk trash before they beat you to a pulp, and all have their own techniques as well. I will say the final boss is going to give you fits. And oh-my-lucky-shells, the cameos in this game are plentiful. It's like they listened to every fan and said "yeah, put that in the game". It really wants the 10.
Some of the cameos in story mode are hidden, and after they're found, they give you special challenges to complete. These are also hidden throughout the game. I implore you, break everything. Smash plants, cameras, trash cans, and whatever you think you can interact with. Once you find everything you're set out to find, you can go back and receive points, making it easier to level up. From the world map, you can access the Turtles' lair. Within that menu lies the dojo, where you can view your achievements. You can also access the fitness journal, which gives you a snapshot of what levels your characters are at, and what points they need to level up and unlock new moves and additional hit points. You can also access the Living Room, which has all your challenges listed per level. "Finish level unharmed" gets passed up in the first 10 seconds, not because the game is cheap. It's because in a beat 'em up, you get beat up. It's as simple as that. Next is the library, where you get to see all those wonderful cameos you've unlocked. There are a few surprises here, and they are definitely worth the 10 that this game will receive at the end of this review.
People, this game is gorgeous. The pixel art is so good that you don't even notice it's there. The backgrounds are full of color. The characters look absolutely stunning. The foot soldiers pop, and there are so many different variations. The bosses all look like their cartoon counterparts, and I will never get over Bebop in a suit. The run animation for each character is different. They all have their own details and animations. The sound is just as good. The music is that beat 'em up turtle pumping music that you don't want to mute or stop. There's a boss song done by Wu-Tang. WU-TANG. The music is so good that Tee Lopes actually has it on Spotify. 28 tracks. Raekwon and Ghostface Killa, and even Mega Ran, on a Turtles soundtrack. Now if you're a crazy person, you can turn the music or sound off, but that's just silly. Because how else would I give this a 10, if you can't hear it?
I would like to point out that Arcade mode is also available. This skips the story and throws you right into the action. However, once you run out of lives, you get a couple of continues, and once you run out of continues, it's game over. Arcade mode also ignores your level. You are vanilla the entire time. You can rack up your score and make the online leaderboards. You can also unlock other achievements in Arcade mode. I would guess the ultimate challenge is to play by yourself, in Gnarly mode, and beat it without continues, to which I say "good luck". Because you will definitely need all the pizza you can get your 3 fingered hands on. Not to be confused with the 10 fingers I'm holding up for this game.
Last but certainly not least - the multiplayer modes. It is indeed up 6 player couch co-op. Six players. You can drop in at anytime during the game. The best part about this is the online multiplayer, which is also up to 6 players. And you can set this up from practically anywhere in the game. You can create parties that are either public, just friends, or private. You can do it before, during, and after choosing your character. If you're already playing online, and you want to add people, you can hit your pause menu, while others are fighting, and invite or add people into the game. People can join your game anytime if they see you're playing. And it's all seamless. It all works. If something does go haywire, you can kick someone from the game as well. In our case, something did, and we just kicked the player out and brought them back. The online modes in this game are some of the absolute best I've ever seen. It's so simple, and so fast. This game has it all! How it's only $25 is beyond me. It does not let you pick the same character as someone else, and I love this. Six Leonardos would be a lot, and would probably stop this game from getting a 10-ski.
Every version of this game is supurb. A ton of people help me with this review, jumping in and out across multiple systems. We played the PS4, Xbox (Game Pass), and Switch (purchased) versions of the game. Across the board it's the same. No slowdowns. No frame drops. Nothing. This game is an absolute 10.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Joseph is the resident streamer for Gaming Nexus. He grew up playing video games as early as the Atari 2600. He knows a little about a lot of video games, and loves a challenge. He thinks that fanboys are dumb, and enjoys nothing more than to see rumors get completely shut down. He just wants to play games, and you can watch him continue his journey at Games N Moorer on Youtube, Twitch, Twitter, and Facebook gaming!View Profile