I grew up with ninja turtles. I grew up with stickers; I had a few, but I loved them and played with them for a long time. I grew up with cartoons and movies; not the ones with the 3D turtles, the ones with the guys in suits… and yes, we couldn’t see anything.
Game copy courtesy of Tribute Games, screenshot by RDS Video Games
Played on PlayStation 5 for review
I also grew up with video games, although I still have the trauma of the first NES game and the level with electric algae. On the other hand, I have very fond memories of fighting games, especially Turtles in Time at the Super Nintendo. I’m not the only one, because when Tribute Games announced that they were working on a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game with the retro style of old fighting games, the hype was real.
So, was it worth the wait?
Tribute Games, it should be remembered, is a Quebec studio specializing in the recreation of retro-style games, but with a modern sensibility in game design. Witness their most recent endeavors Panzer Paladin and Flinthook and one of their greatest hits: Mercenary Kings. The core of Tribute, on the other hand, was born in Ubisoft for the creation of a retro fighting game, Scott Pilgrim vs The World.
In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, we quickly find the distinct visual style of the creators of Tribute.
The game mainly contains two game modes, story and arcade. The latter is a refined version of the story mode that takes up the structure of an arcade game: all levels one after the other, no backup, when you are game over, you are game over.
The story mode allows you to continue our game where we are and the worst that can happen to us when we die is to restart the level from the beginning. Between levels, we walk in the iconic ninja turtle van and we can choose the level we want.
A special feature of the story mode is the ability to level each of the playable characters separately, increasing their power and unlocking new attacks.
Speaking of playable characters, we obviously find the four ninja turtles: Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raffaello. As a bonus, reporter April O’Neil, ninja master Master Splinter and Casey Jones who we know as “the boy with the hockey stick” join the party. It’s Tribute’s stroke of genius to add these characters and one wonders how no one had thought of it before.
The gameplay is exactly what we expect from it, it’s an old school fighting game where you can perform combos, air strikes, special attacks, etc. New in combat, and a very welcome one, is a dedicated dodge button, which makes the game more enjoyable right in the most difficult sequences. You can also charge a bar to store very powerful special attacks. This gauge is charged by attacking enemies normally or by making a mockery, a small unique animation for each character.
The game initially offers three difficulty levels. I ran the story mode on “Ok”, the equivalent of normal, and noticed a gradual increase in difficulty, with subsequent levels providing a great challenge. The layout and number of enemies adapt to the number of players, as well as the difficulty of the bosses. Playing alone, I went back to the early levels to gain power and find some missing secrets.
Each level contains its share of secrets and challenges to tackle, and some are not easy at all, like taking no damage, for example. This gives the game good replay value, while you can try to complete the challenges alone or as a team. In addition to the challenges, we can find secondary characters in the story mode who ask us to find certain hidden objects in the levels.
Whoever says it beats ninja turtles says multiplayer. In Shredder’s Revenge it is possible to play cooperatively up to 6 players, locally or online. At any time, other players can join the game. You can search for an ongoing game, or leave your “Party” open and maybe someone will join you in the middle of a level. I noticed some bugs when trying to play online, such as an endless game search or being unable to accept a friend’s invitation. That said, the game has only just rolled out and I have still been able to play several online games without too many hitches.
TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge isn’t reinventing the genre and that’s not the goal. Tribute Games has produced exactly what we wanted: to relive the pleasure of a retro fighting game by removing the aspects that had aged badly in these games and adding some modern comforts, such as better controls, smoother gameplay and an accessible online mode. The game also features a fantastic soundtrack that pays homage to retro games while featuring more modern tracks composed by Tee Lopes; there is also an original song by Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, rapper of the Wu-Tang Clan group.