TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge is a totally radical beat-em-up – PAX East 2022 preview

TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge stays true to their origins in the gaming space and takes it to the next level.

Image via Dotemu and Nickelodeon

TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge is a tour-de-force of beat-em-up action with stellar animation, and totally radical moves at your disposal. Despite the game potentially becoming repetitive in long sessions, this will likely be an exciting nostalgia trip on full release.

Shredder’s Revenge can be played in two different ways: a classic arcade-style run-through with no RPG mechanics and a story mode. As you progress through the latter, you’ll gain boosts in attack and your health in an RPG-esque format. The meat and potatoes come from the sheer beauty of the combat.

Six heroes to play as

Image via Dotemu and Nickelodeon

As you go through each level, you’ll be facing off against waves of characteristic enemies that look ripped straight from the show. The animations are on point as their personality shines on screen. There are six characters you can play at the time of writing, including the four turtles in a half shell, April O’Neil, and Master Splinter. During my time with the game, I played as the leader of the group Leonardo. Each character offers a unique play style with different speed and damage outputs. If you want to play as a speedy character, you may want to take out incoming foes with April, while Leonardo is a great all-around pick with neutral attributes.

The beat-em-up genre is often criticized for its basic combat, but TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge does just enough to make it a blast to play. There is the standard suite of attacks, like a simple slash of the sword, but you can also jump up in the air and do a stunning sword sweep as Leonardo strikes the ground. There is also a special attack that lets you team up to create a powerful move. Going up close to a foe will also let you grab them and throw them around, causing area of effect damage. You’ll also be able to throw them straight toward the game’s camera, just like the old school games.

Image via Dotemu and Nickelodeon

Everything feels accurate to control in Shredder’s Revenge as each input is precise. It’s no surprise that a Scott Pilgrim vs. The World alum worked on Shredder’s Revenge, a similarly awesome beat-em-up. Whether or not that precision will carry forward online is a question that only time will tell. However, having everyone on a couch or in this case, on the convention floor, makes the game even better as you work together to beat up a menagerie of opponents on screen. The developer has informed us you can have two people at home playing while the other two in your party can team up online.

Speaking of classics like Turtles in Time, Shredder’s Revenge is an outstanding spiritual successor, acting as an homage to the arcade games we know and love mostly for the better. 

The modern animation that Flinthook developer Tribute Games adds to the formula. Every screen is filled with detail with plenty of references to the source material. The environments are exciting to explore, and the colorful visuals truly pop on screen. While spending time with the developers, it was evident that they were passionate about the property, especially the 80s era.

Like the toppings of a tasty pepperoni slice, Sonic Mania composer Tee Lopes adds a stellar TMNT-themed soundtrack to the game. He adds a retro flair and stays in tune with the beat-em-up genre’s rocking music back in the day.

Despite how flashy Shredder’s Revenge is, it can’t escape the beat-em-up’s trappings. The moveset feels limited, and after an hour or so of play, the game loop may feel old to those who haven’t played a beat-em-up before. The attacks look great at first, but as time passes, they may lose their shine. If there are hidden depths, they weren’t apparent in this preview build. In addition, the boss battles seemed way too easy in the demo that was provided. There seemed to be next to no strategy to their design.

Nevertheless, we can’t wait to get a few friends, order a pizza, and play TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge. Its booth on the PAX 2022 show floor is consistently crowded and for good reason: it’s absolutely radical, dude. If you’re in Boston, it’s absolutely worth the wait.