Dotemu and Tribute Games bring their tribute to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series with a great side-scrolling beat ’em up.
Whoever was a kid in the 90s can’t forget the animated cartoon series of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Created by the comic book artists Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, is the story of four turtle brothers mutated in an anthropomorphic form due a strange and radioactive ooze.
Named after Italian renaissance artists: Leonardo, Donatello, Raffaello and Michelangelo and trained in ninjutsu by their rat sensei Splinter, they fight against the Foot Clan and its leader Shredder.
Begun as a comic book, the authors conceived a parody of the most popular elements in superhero comics of the time, was a surprise success and became a best selling franchise.
So in 1989 Konami released the arcade version of a side-scrolling beat ‘em up starring the Ninja Turtles and another one in 1991:
Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, both are a milestone of the genre.
As said before Dotemu brings a lovely tribute to these popular arcades with this new game that includes almost the entire universe of the TMNT: main and side characters, locations and all the details are very accurate.
The story so far:
Shredder is back and plots revenge, storming Channel 6 Studios with his thug and his assistants: Rocksteady and Bebop. It’s up to our heroes to save the day and New York once again.
You can choose between six characters plus a secret one: Leonardo, Raffaello, Donatello, Michelangelo, Splinter, April O’neil and Casey Jones.
Each of them has its own stats and original combo system and personal moves.
Stages, Map, and Secrets:
We will face 16 stages, well designed and inspired thanks to a beautiful and smart use of pixel art.
Backgrounds are accurate and full of details, during the adventure we can interact with some elements and discover easter eggs or hidden minor characters, and just these will give you some secondary quests.
We can switch through the stages driving our Turtle Van in a 16 bit map of New York City. In Story Mode we can choose to repeat any level done before and drive through the secondary missions, but they are only requests to find collectibles hidden across the main levels. For a more challenging experience there is an Arcade Mode too.
The combat system is solid, fast and engaging and you can feel the power of the blows.
Every character has different stats and combat styles. They can level up during the adventure, so as to become stronger and unlock advanced moves.
There is more depth than we see in the combat system: In addition to the classic combo (press repeatedly Y), sprints and slide attacks, we have a dodge roll with invincibility frames that can be combined with a successive slide attack, uppercuts, charged attacks, double jumps and aerial attacks and special moves. Some of these can be unlocked only by leveling up.
Doing and maintaining combos is the core of the combat: higher is the number better will be the power of our character with also a moveset variation.
Hitting enemies will fill a gauge for the special move: at max level the gauge has three levels but be careful, being hit will empty the gauge and goodbye special move!
Enemies are quite aggressive, diversified and fun to fight but there’s no depth like in the combat system. Some boss fights are smart and fun to play, but not all: sometimes the bosses’ A.I. go in a chain routine and you have to take blows without being able to defend.
Unfortunately the skate/flying levels are not well designed and in the last sections the artistic tone drops down and it falls short of the first part of the game.
These gameplay lacks, like the artistic sector, are shown on the final levels getting the experience sometimes repetitive and too long.
Sound and graphics:
The Graphics are delicious and well drawn, the environments are full of details and the cartoonish style brings the player back to his childhood. Music is immersive and well played, we can listen to tracks sung by Wu-tang Clan’s members and Mike Patton too: First class!
Replayability and length:
In single player the game shows its weakness: The Story Mode lasts a few hours and even if you can unlock a new character after beating the game for the first time, level up to seven players and replay stages to find secrets and complete sub-missions and tasks, in my opinion it’s not enough.
You can try Arcade Mode, more challenging but the same levels.
The better way to enjoy the game is the Arcade Mode in Multiplayer. Playing with random people or your friends is very fun and fulfilling.
Dotemu and Tribute Games pay a lovely tribute to the old arcade series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, making the best TMNT game.
There are the classic issues and weaknesses of the side-scrolling beat ‘em up and unfortunately Dotemu’s lack of bravery penalizes its combat system, making its good ideas almost useless.
Don’t misunderstand me, we have a good product, with a great graphics and sound design. Obviously the game gives its best especially when played with friends:
Locale or online multiplayer is damn fun. Up to six players on screen against a sea of enemies and surprisingly the game is fluid and the characters are quite recognizable in that mess, a wonderful button smashing experience!
Despite its problems Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is a must have for the lovers of the old arcade and turtle’s brand and it will not fail to entertain, even if you are a newbie to the series.
Tested on Nintendo Switch