The classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles gaming experience is returning with Shredder's Revenge, a new game that Dotemu and Tribute Games announced in March. Nintendo confirmed that the game would come to the Nintendo Switch by showing it off during its Indie World showcase in April. Shredder's Revenge is built in the classic beat 'em up mold, drawing inspiration from old school Turtles games, including Turtles In Time, widely regarded as a peak-beat 'em up experience. ComicBook.com got in touch with some of the folks at Tribute and Dotemu who are working on Shredder's Revenge via email to discuss how it came to be and their hopes and plans for the game. Like any young person in the 1980s and early 1990s, the people working on Shredder's Revenge were caught up in Turtlemania.
"TMNT was a big part of my childhood – through the video games, of course, but I also have fond memories of watching the show on Wednesday afternoons with a bowl of cereal," says Cyrille Imbert, executive producer/CEO at Dotemu. "I also LOVED the toys, had lots of them and kept them for quite some time."
"As a kid of the '80s, I grew up playing with Turtles action figures and watching the TMNT animated show in my Turtles pajamas," says Jean-Francois Major, the CEO of Tribute Games. "I would spend every summer in Florida where my parents would bring us to Grand Prix Race-O-Rama, which was arcade heaven. I spent all my tokens on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game. However, at the time, I never managed to beat it in one sitting.
"When Turtles in Time came out, I was, unfortunately, a Genesis owner. My next-door neighbor was lucky enough to pick it up. I remember spending every school lunch break at his house playing the game. That is when the phrase 'Big Apple, 3 A.M.' was engraved in my head. I still get goosebumps hearing it to this day."
It's hard to imagine a better team to revitalize the TMNT beat 'em up experience than Dotemu. The French developer and publishing studio is hot off their successful revitalization of another iconic beat 'em up franchise with Streets of Rage 4, which the studio released last year.
"Simple and fun games are timeless. It's just that sometimes we… forget about them," Imbert explains when asked about the studios' continued fascination with beat 'em ups. "But many of us did not; we just feel the need to see them return while reminding everyone how good they were. We want to also show how well they can fit in the current gaming world if they strike the right balance between legacy and modernity."
While Tribute Games wasn't a part of Streets of Rage 4, the team shares a love of the beat 'em up genre. They also have members who worked on the game that some fans consider the Turtles' last great beat 'em up experience and another game considered a modern classic of the genre.
"While Tribute had no input on the amazing Streets of Rage 4, a few of our founding team members had the chance to work on TMNT for Gameboy Advance and Scott Pilgrim back at Ubisoft," says Major. "Beat 'em ups are like an old bike you haven't ridden in a long while. They're super easy to pick up and feel comfortable. And the experience is always amplified when shared with friends."
Like the Turtles themselves, the origin of Shredder's Revenge sounds like something from a comic book. Dotemu and Tribute were both pitching Nickelodeon to get the rights to make a new TMNT game. However, they soon realize that they shouldn't be working against each other but joining forces.
"Nickelodeon came to us after the launch of Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap," Imbert recalls. "They liked our work on that title and wanted to know if we would be interested in working with them on one of their licenses. When I saw TMNT in the list, it just started to make sense. Later I learned that Tribute Games was also pitching Nickelodeon on a similar project. I knew Tribute Games were veteran developers with a very solid lineup and that their work is perfectly in line with what we love at Dotemu. So for me, it was clear as water; instead of working against each other, we should work together! So I contacted Jonathan [Lavigne, Tributes Games' co-founder] and Jean-François, and we talked a bit, which confirmed our common vision and love for TMNT. We joined forces to present a united project concept, and Nickelodeon liked it. Now here we are!"
Major adds, "The fit just made so much sense, and we felt joining forces would make our pitch all that more compelling. And now that the news is out, I'm confident in saying this was the right move to make."
Reviving a classic game franchise or genre can be tricky business. Developers who don't pay appropriate homage to what came before will earn the scorn of retro fans, but not updating the game to meet today's expectations risks disappointing modern audiences. Major explained how they're approaching that challenge.
"The toughest part in reviving old memories is striking the perfect balance between old and new," he says. "If you've ever played an old game you used to love 30 years ago today, you probably noticed your memories were somewhat skewed. The challenge lies in returning as close to those memories as possible while adding all the new quality of life features modern gamers are accustomed to. A great example of this is how in the old Turtles games, if you weren't perfectly aligned with your target, your hits would not connect. Today, we need to implement systems that will try to figure out what you intended to do and slightly align your character for you, so the hit connects.
"We feel the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games from the '80s, and early '90s were the games to beat in that era," he continues, expanding on Tribute's hopes for Shredder's Revenge. "They changed the landscape in a big way. Our goal is to go back to those golden days and give everyone a chance to relive the excitement that came with throwing Foot Soldiers to the screen or tossing Bebop and Rocksteady on their butts with a few friends."
Major also touched on another risk inherent in reviving an older franchise: what if it turns out that the people making the new game are the only ones who miss the old games? Luckily, the response to the Shredder's Revenge announcements has helped assuage those fears.
"You always wonder if you are the only one screaming for a throwback," Majors says. "It's something we've been meaning to do for such a long time, but you wonder 'are we the last ones left with this feeling?' I think the reaction to the news mostly confirmed the timing is right. All the social media testimonies we've heard over the past weeks prove there is a shared passion for this to happen. We're not so alone in this crazy pursuit after all! It puts a big smile on my face to read every comment and suggestion. As Turtles fans ourselves, we share the same level of excitement, and I personally can't wait to show off more."0comments
In closing, Imbert tells fans, "Thanks, everyone, for your support and super awesome feedback. We will do our very best to meet your expectations. Quality takes time, so please bear with us!"
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge releases later this year.