By Jackson Clyde
Just months ago, I had yet to dip my toes into the “beat ’em up” genre of video games, and had no intentions of doing so. They always seemed fairly unappealing to me, largely thanks to their reputation as archaic, absurdly difficult titles with a lack of meaningful content.
Then I played “Shredder’s Revenge” for the first time, and realized how wrong I was.
Having recently watched “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem,” I was in the mood to explore more Turtles-related media. Luckily for me, my friend (and Gatepost alum) Sean Cabot had been playing around with “Shredder’s Revenge” and its new “Dimension Shellshock” DLC, and invited me to play through the game with him.
At first I couldn’t help but feel intimidated by the game, especially since Sean made the decision that we’d be playing on the highest difficulty - “Gnarly.” Thankfully, it turned out that my worries were for naught.
The main mode of “Shredder’s Revenge” is its story mode, in which you embark on a series of side-scrolling adventures through the world of the 1987 “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” cartoon. I primarily played through the game as the Turtles’ trusty reporter ally, April O’Neil, while Sean used one of the two new characters “Dimension Shellshock” added to the game: the honor-bound ninja Karai.
We did briefly switch characters, Sean using fellow “Dimension Shellshock”-exclusive Miyamoto Usagi, while I tried out the most fun-loving of the Turtles - Michelangelo.
The first thing that becomes apparent once you boot the game is the utterly gorgeous pixel art, which captures the Turtles’ colorful world so well, it makes you feel like you’re watching an episode of the classic cartoon. Every character is directly based on their animated appearances, and in the case of the Turtles, their original voice actors even return to reprise the roles they made famous.
Admittedly, the returning voices are a bit of a double-edged sword. While the other three Turtles sound as great as ever (particularly Townsend Coleman as Michelangelo), Rob Paulsen’s performance as Raphael has definitely been weakened by the effects of age on his vocal range.
Other than that small gripe, however, the game’s visual and sound presentation is fantastic. The soundtrack particularly stands out, with music by the “Sonic Mania” composer Tee Lopes and vocal contributions from Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, both members of the renowned hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan.
The game also impresses with its easy-to-learn gameplay. Every character controls roughly the same, with the exception of a few unique abilities. It doesn’t take long to figure out your basic actions and what makes each character unique, which encourages you to try them all out at least once.
The game’s true challenge comes in its enemy design. Level after level, you’re faced with a litany of foes, each with unique attacks and weaknesses, and you’ll have to learn to properly deal with them.
Though the game is constantly filling your screen with baddies, it never feels like there’s too many for you to handle, especially when you’re playing with friends. It helps that your own options in combat are clearly laid out, giving you an ample amount of time to learn and master the battles ahead of you.
Except for the Triceratons, who can go straight to hell.
Beyond the game’s entertaining story mode, the “Dimension Shellshock” DLC adds a Survival Mode, where you and your friends are tasked with withstanding waves of enemies on a limited number of lives. While I found it slightly less enjoyable than the game’s core content, namely due to a sudden spike in its difficulty halfway through, it’s still a great way to add some extra challenge to your experience.
The bonus costumes that come with the DLC are also appreciated, allowing you to style the Turtles and friends up with color palettes representing their vast history.
Overall, “Shredder’s Revenge” is a blast to play, even if you have no particular attachment to the Heroes in a Half-Shell, or “beat ’em ups” as a genre.
Who knows, it might just get you into both of them!
Let’s party, dudes!