Although not much is yet known about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, this upcoming beat ’em has quickly become one of 2021’s most anticipated games and is already looking like an evolution of past celebrated titles within the franchise.
As a fan of both side-scrolling beat ‘em ups and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise, the first trailer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge immediately generated both feelings of incredible hype and pure nostalgia upon initial viewings. The game’s art style and character designs confirm that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is primarily influenced by the 1987 cartoon series, in addition to using the familiar gameplay formula from Konami’s classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade games.
The brief trailers so far haven’t revealed much, beyond an incredible animated intro with an ear-pleasing remix of the 1987 series’ theme song. The trailers also offered a very brief glimpse at the gameplay, clearly inspired by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time, Final Fight, and other excellent 90s side-scrolling beat ‘em ups.
Although Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge was initially revealed without stating what home consoles the game would be appearing on, Nintendo’s mid-April Indie World Showcase presentation confirmed that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is coming to the Nintendo Switch later this year.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise certainly has seen both incredible highs (the years 1984 to 1996) and unfortunate lows (the critically-panned Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III ) over the past decades, but the popularity of the 1987 cartoon franchise has never been topped, although Nickelodeon’s 2012 cartoon series had five well-received seasons. Heck, the 2012 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise received its own rare but decent-looking 2018 beat ‘em up arcade, just simply titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Although it certainly looks great, especially with some callbacks to previous classics like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time. However, it’s modern 3D visuals don’t hit those same nostalgic sweet notes that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge has already executed brilliantly.
While there have been a great number of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video games published over the years, the most notable and successful entries came in the late 80s and early 90s. Most gamers that grew up on the original 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon can recall the (mostly) excellent games inspired by it.
However, the two games most fondly remember are the 1989 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the 1991 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time arcade hits. They were brightly colored and beautifully animated, showcasing that incredible side-scrolling beat’ em up action that easily intoxicated both gamers and Ninja Turtle fans to keep pumping quarters into the games. Both games received excellent ports on the NES and SNES, respectively, with the latter port often considered superior in many ways, mainly thanks to the SNES version’s additional levels, bosses, and gameplay additions.
The 1992 SNES masterpiece Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time is, in my opinion, not only the very best Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game ever made, but it’s easily one of the very best beat ‘em ups of all time, right up there with other epic Konami licensed property games like The Simpsons and X-Men, despite the fact the SNES only allowed a maximum of two players instead of four due to technology limitations at the time.
However, there’s another well-known franchise on the rival Sega Genesis console (which also has its own great Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist, a 1992 title that largely reuses the same assets from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time, but with a new plot, redesigned levels, and exclusive bosses), Sega’s own exclusive beat ’em up, the Streets of Rage series. This Sega-owned franchise is considered a gold standard in the entire beat ‘em up genre, even to this very day.
The original Streets of Rage trilogy are all considered Genesis classics, with Streets of Rage 2 often heralded as the best in the entire beat ‘em up genre, so heads certainly turned when independent French studio Dotemu released Streets of Rage 4 for modern consoles last year. Dotemu gained permission to develop a new official entry for Sega’s storied franchise largely thanks to the company’s success with Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap, itself a ground-up remake of the Sega Master System title Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap. Streets of Rage 4 received a lot of critical and commercial success, having sold over 1.5 million digital units globally since September 2020, only a few short months after its April 2020 release.
When the trailer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge dropped back in March, fans like me got excited when we saw that Dotemu was attached to the game as publisher, though Canadian game studio Tribute Games is primarily handling the game’s development. Tribute Games was founded by several former Ubisoft employees that worked on the acclaimed side-scrolling beat ‘em up Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game, but the company’s most well-known game to date is the successful Kickstarter-funded run ‘n gun title Mercenary Kings.
As if that strong pedigree wasn’t enough, there’s actually a very interesting connection that Tribute Games has with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise: many of those same team members that worked on Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game also worked on the 2007 Game Boy Advance hack and slash TMNT, the game itself based on the 2007 film of the same name. The GBA TMNT title actually received a lot of positive reception, but the 2007 TMNT franchise never came close to the same heights experienced over a decade earlier.
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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge’s graphics look very similar to many 32-bit pixelated GBA games, (likely a coincidence when considering the 2007 TMNT GBA connection, but still notable nonetheless), but obviously looking much sharper and cleaner. The gameplay trailer also never appeared to show any noticeable framerate dips or gameplay slowdown (common issues for arcade ports in the 90s). The music and effects also sound both amazing and appropriate, giving me further hope that this game could finally be the successor to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time, a “spiritual sequel” nearly thirty years in the making.
Not since Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time has any other game in the franchise even come halfway close to the quality and fun factor to the SNES masterpiece, but based on the few short minutes I’ve seen for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, it’s already one of my most-wanted games for the year. Considering that same list for 2021 also includes hotly anticipated titles like Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, No More Heroes III, and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD, that’s one incredible feat based solely on a couple of minutes of gameplay that manages to magically manipulate my nostalgia successfully.
If Streets of Rage 4 is any possible indication, then both old-school Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans and side-scrolling beat ‘em up aficionados should be beyond thrilled when Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge gets released sometime this year. And when the game finally releases, hopefully, those who have patiently waited for a “spiritual successor” to those classic Konami Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games will finally have their prayers answered.