The upcoming video game Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge feels in equal parts like it was pulled out of mothballed storage of yesteryear and also like a refreshing look at what a modern beat-'em-up video game can be. At least, that's the impression after having played the first two levels on PC via Steam as part of a recent hands-on demo. Developed by Tribute Games and published by Dotemu, TMNT: Shredder's Revenge appears to absolutely be an homage to classic TMNT video games that should appeal to new and old fans alike.
The two levels, and really everything about TMNT: Shredder's Revenge that has been shown thus far, are obviously inspired by the cartoon from the late '80s with the theme song and general design sense of characters and New York City flawlessly replicated by Tribute Games. Given that the previous beat-'em-up video games were similarly inspired by the cartoon, it makes sense. According to Yannick Belzil, narrative designer on TMNT: Shredder's Revenge, the decision was made very early on to focus on that iteration of the characters.
"We pull a bit from the toy line that was around back then," says Belzil. "I feel also like a bit of the art in the cutscene feels like something you would've seen in the Archie comics that were published back then, but it's mostly [the 1987 cartoon]."
Actually playing TMNT: Shredder's Revenge was a very smooth experience, which anyone familiar with Tribute Games' work on titles like Panzer Paladin and Flinthook should expect. In classic style, I navigated April O'Neil from left to right and top to bottom while taking on the Foot Clan and other hazards with panache. While the requirements of the kind of game it is did mean that there were times I found myself punching air rather than connecting due to not having the right spacing, TMNT: Shredder's Revenge certainly felt more forgiving than most.
And given the sort of video game it is, that also means the job of narrative designer for Belzil can be a bit difficult. "It's a lot of massaging and making sure we can tell stories with the resources that we have, because we're sort of honor bound to keep the same rhythm as the arcade games," says Belzil. "It means that we don't have long scenes with dialogue trees and stuff like that. It needs to be really quick. It needs to be cartoony, funny, immediate, and tell that story over how many levels we have and come up with endings and beginning."
Based on the first two levels, TMNT: Shredder's Revenge is certainly quick. All told, it took roughly 12 minutes or so to get through, and that was as a single person rather than with multiple other characters beating on the same bad guys. It's hard to say how the full game is like given how little that I played, but if the rest of it is as cartoony and slick as what I've seen, I'd say Belzil and the rest of Tribute Games did a great job of meeting the requirements of what makes a great TMNT video game within the constraints of the genre. In short, I had a very "cowabunga" kind of time with it.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge is set to release for PC via Steam, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 this summer. You can check out all of our previous coverage of the upcoming video game right here.
What do you think about what we have seen of TMNT: Shredder's Revenge thus far? Are you looking forward to playing it for yourself? Let us know in the comments, or feel free to reach out and hit me up directly over on Twitter at @rollinbishop in order to talk about all things gaming!