Should I now taunt the retro madness again, analyze it analytically…? Should I follow my unbridled love of retro…? How does my schizophrenic love-hate obsession with the present towards the past play out today… Let’s think about it, how have I felt the last few days with the Turtles…? ok got it Here we go.
The new Turtles Game is so mega cowabunga that it rips the skateboard out from under your chucks! Or something like that, dunno, just saying this is better than what Konami did in 1989 and 1991 on Arcade and Super Nintendo. And that’s still one of the best when it comes to scrolling beatings. Better than early 90s Konami? Is that possible? Apparently yes. Not through the pink retro glasses, of course, but yes, Tribute Games and Dotemu have delivered the better game here with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge.
Well, basically they delivered the same game. Then they took out the little rough edges of the old controller. Then they added a slightly pointless overworld map that was more reminiscent of the NES game. Next, they made the stages scroll in different directions. Furthermore, they brought a simple but very effective special move system into the game, which usefully expands the repertoire. Then added a little bit of progression with unlockable bonuses. Finally, they made sure that up to six players can get involved in practically any off- and online constellation at the same time. But at heart it’s the same game as it was in 1989.
And that’s exactly why it works perfectly. Even more so than last time with Streets of Rage 4, the retro spark ignites immediately because there was the right amount of small innovations, but this optimized again and at the same time so close to everything that made the original almost timeless. Whether the Turtles would still work today like they did back then, I have no idea. The films and series must be watched with a maximum level of nostalgia. But the simple premise itself – pizza hungry ninja turned turtles being trained by a rat in New York – plus simple visual humor ignites without delay.
Visually, the numerous stages are one highlight after the other anyway, all drenched in rich colors and provided with a myriad of small and large animations. You’ll hardly find an opponent who doesn’t do some nonsense first. Be it munching on a pizza, playing Game Boy or whatever Foot Clan robots do. Your AI must contain a significant level of boredom. It doesn’t matter, with either fast basic moves, a handful of grapplings or special attacks, you can quickly dismantle them and manage groups well. Even better than their Streets of Rage genre cousins, Turtles, Splinter and April master their kick and back punch to get themselves out of trouble quickly. The jump height is also so high that you are very mobile on the screen if it gets too much for you in a corner or if a boss is getting too close to you. It just plays perfectly for what it is.
It certainly helps that the stages are kept short. You are on the road for a maximum of five to six minutes, that is a good time in which an excess of routine has little chance. This has typically been the downfall of many games of this nature before, and even the original Turtles wasn’t immune to it. Even the problem that different Foot Clan opponents are actually just color changes isn’t really a problem, since they introduce themselves with new animations on practically every screen and have new combat tactics in store. And it doesn’t hurt that there’s the Hoverboard level here and there, which plays a little faster and relies more on reflexes without being unfair. No, the boredom that usually shows up in the genre from level 5 at the latest stays outside here.
What else can I say. It’s the original speakers who were allowed to dig up their lines again here. The soundtrack is more than just a successful mix of old themes and new ideas, the sound effects are crisp, as are the animation phases, which contribute to the good feeling of the game. Did I mention the colors, the many bright colors in the wonderful stages and that you can play with six people? Yes? Alright, time to wrap up.
Maybe I was too harsh on Streets of Rage 4, so I’ll make up for it here on Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge. Who cares. Whoever wants to play it does it anyway and the rest of the world will never understand why it’s so cool to be able to beat up almost the same opponent one thousand seven hundred and thirty-two times with just 20 or so moves (which is already numerous for the genre). Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is, if not the best, one of the best the genre has to offer. With friends on the couch it’s an absolute delight, cranking up the system, chilling the beer, yelling cowabunga and bashing away. It’s the Turtles game that we’ve earned after all these, at best, mediocre Turtles decades.