Netflix does it again with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, a side-scrolling beat ’em up that’s a collaborative effort from Nickelodeon, Playdigious, Tribute Games and Dotemu. With its retro pixel art and soundtrack from Tee Lopes bringing all the old-school vibes, is it worth travelling back in time to dive into it, or should you get your dose of nostalgia elsewhere?
TMNT: SHREDDER’S REVENGE VISUALS
The visuals of TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge are all about going old-school. Even the screen’s aspect ratio harkens back to the good ol’ days of arcade gaming – in fact, you can even choose to go on your adventure with the Heroes in a Half Shell in classic Arcade mode without any saves and only a limited number of coins-slash-lives.
It’s hard not to yell “Cowabunga” along with Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo when they just look so darn good in those pixels – not to mention each level also features a fully retro feel complete with the interactive backgrounds and quirky Foot Soldiers. If you’re the more observant type, you’ll even spot the members of the Foot Clan going about their day-to-day routines in often humorous situations like baking cakes and doing yoga. It gives you a little glimpse into their everyday lives before you arrive and gives them a good beating, which might just make you question who the bad guys really are in here.
The soundtrack adds to the nostalgic charm of the game, and even the still images that represent cut scenes along with the title card per level complement the overall retro atmosphere. It all reminds me so much of 1991’s Turtles In Time, from the menu design to the voiceover of “Big Apple, 3AM” (which has been updated to 3PM here).
THE GAMEPLAY OF TMNT: SHREDDER’S REVENGE
As expected of the genre, you’ll play through each level while beating up bad guys until you get to the boss fight on that stage. This moves the story along (if you’re in the Story Mode) and helps you unlock bonuses if you’re a tad more diligent – this means that you can fulfil requests from NPCs like Burne and collect newspapers and other items littered throughout each level. They can be behind destructible items or whatnot, so it pays to wreck everything in sight on each stage. You might even chance upon little Easter eggs like Attila the Frog, Genghis Frog, Napoleon Bonafrog and Rasputin the Mad Frog, which are pretty cool touches for longtime fans.
Of course, the game is ideally meant to be played on a controller, so on the mobile version, you can expect your typical virtual D-pad and action buttons. They do take up valuable space on the limited real estate of your mobile device’s screen, especially when your character is smudged into a corner on the lower left or the lower right. You can adjust the positions and sizes of the buttons, but you still can’t beat not having those buttons there altogether.
The virtual D-pad also makes it more challenging to be on the right plane when you’re moving up and down. With side-scrolling games like this one, it’s crucial to be aligned with the enemy so that your punches can actually land, and sliding your thumb across the screen with the virtual directional buttons just doesn’t do too well in that respect. Thankfully, the game features full controller support – I had no problems connecting my DualShock 4, 8BitDo Bluetooth controller, or my Razer Kishi for a bit more control. The virtual action buttons, to be fair, do a really good job at telling you which button does what – sometimes even more so than the actual controller.
WHAT’S THE APPEAL?
The overall experience feels extremely similar to Turtles In Time, as I mentioned, and it’s a welcome feeling. The game nails that nostalgic appeal while updating the game with modern comforts like auto-saves, and it’s as fabulous as Streets of Rage 4 – another Playdigious masterpiece.
I did, however, encounter a few hiccups when it comes to the game’s multiplayer function. Beat ’em ups, in my opinion, are only ever as fun as the people you play them with, and while local couch co-op would’ve been ideal, it’s not often possible with co-op mobile games. You’ll usually have to connect with your best buds online, which is where a stable internet connection comes in handy.
My own WiFi connection isn’t the most reliable, and whenever it would get cut off, my partymate (who also needs to have their own Netflix subscription) would drop out of the game. Sometimes, reconnecting is a simple matter of jumping right back in where we left off – other times, whoever got disconnected would start the stage from the very beginning as a solo player. Interruptions like this definitely put a damper on a particularly exhilarating brawl.
Overall, TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge is a wonderful trip down memory lane for fans of the franchise, and especially for fans of beat ’em ups. It might be a bit of a challenge to play co-op here (especially if your online buddy doesn’t have a Netflix subscription), but it’s honestly one of the most enjoyable titles I’ve played in a long while.