Beat 'em ups have never really been my thing. It's a genre that I had always associated with frustration. In time, I've come to realize much of that perception is derived from the fact that I spent a lot of coin at arcades as a kid, only to lose every time I played the likes of The Simpsons or Streets of Rage. Decades later, I picked up River City Girls and found a renewed appreciation for the genre. It's still not my favorite, but it's one that I'll have a crack at if the right title comes along. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge was that title, as TMNT was one of those machines that would regularly kick my ass as a kid.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge (TMNTSR) (Nintendo Switch) is everything I had hoped it would be – an enjoyable blast from the past. Only this time I would win, with no coins wasted. It's a retro-style beat 'em up that pays homage to the greatness of arcade classics by providing beautiful 2D art, a remarkable slew of music, and a gameplay that will have you quickly recovering muscle memory you thought was lost.
It's art is wonderfully executed and captures the look and feel of the original hand-drawn TMNT comics and cartoons. The pixel art is vibrant and crisp, and pairs brilliantly with what is fantastic animation throughout. From taunts to kicks, the splashes of color and definitive style given are noticeably cared for by the artists and designers.
Sounds of shredding
The sound is also top-notch, and perhaps the most applaudable aspect of the game. Its music and effects are straight out of the 80s and 90s and help define and maintain an appropriate tone all the way to (and especially at) the end. If you're going to put Ghostface Killah in a TMNT game, the impression given is that this is going to kick ass – and it does.
Pick your pace
In terms of gameplay, I was pleasantly surprised by the games pace. I had always recalled TMNT being a bit sluggish, but made up for in its action and volume of entities to engage with on screen at any given time. This time around, the action emphasizes a fast pace of play. Not only are screens transitioning quickly, but characters are moving swiftly, and levels fly by thanks to a healthy variety in design of backgrounds, objects, motion paths, etc. You can play fast or you can stroll through it, soaking in the glorious art, scapes and sounds. You can play through the game as any one of the characters too, each with their own unique fighting style and special moves. Enemies range from Foot Soldiers to Rocksteady, and each enemy requires a unique strategy to defeat. While there are plenty of bosses, I did find them to be more manageable than I anticipated. In fact, the majority of my deaths came merely from in run-ins with mass amounts of enemies on screen. Had I played co-op it'd have certainly been easier.
⭐⭐⭐ : Great
Which brings me to the most memorable point for me: the game wasn't hard. Again, it's been awhile, but I recall these types of games being incredibly frustrating. Maybe it was my age, my lack of patience, the setting in which I was playing...or maybe it's because I've since grown to love the likes of Hollow Knights and Cupheads of the world. I was simply expecting more of a challenge. Nevertheless, the game is fun. It provides a nostalgic trip down memory lane for franchise lovers, and it will certainly satisfy those who are fans of the genre overall. Cowabunga baby! Tribute Games did these turtles justice!