There aren’t many things that feel as good in games as a long combo. Taking a single enemy and beating them with a chain of attacks that they can’t get away from is the basis of an entire genre of videos on YouTube. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge takes that concept, like so many other 2D brawlers do, and ups the ante a bit. Instead of performing a combo on one person, you’re beating the snot of out a group of people, moving on to another after one drops unconscious.
And while TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge wants players to soak in its gorgeous pixel art and catch its references to the cartoon it draws inspiration from, more than anything it wants its players to get stupidly high combos. During my time with the game at PAX East 2022, I couldn’t help but be impressed with how varied developer Tribute Games made pummeling Foot Clan soldiers in a 2D space.
In a lot of ways, TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge doesn’t reinvent the wheel for 2D brawlers. If you’ve played a game like this, whether it was on an arcade cabinet or with a controller in your hand, Shredder’s Revenge feels immediately familiar. Enemies still appear from off-screen in all directions, slowly moving to get a hit in on you. Pummeling those enemies gives you a super, and getting pummeled by them knocks you out. If you’re playing co-op though, you can always revive your teammate. Like any other 2D beat-em-up, you can heal by eating food off the ground. In this game’s case, it’s (naturally) pizza.
Shredder’s Revenge really started standing out to me when I realized that I had gotten a 36-hit combo. Granted, that was during a co-op game so I wasn’t really sure how I managed it but when I saw that big number, I thought “well, now I have to do it again.”
And with a little bit of thought, I did. Fighting in Shredder’s Revenge is an absolute delight, with the game giving you a ridiculous number of ways to approach any given group of enemies. Sure, you can just stand around and mash one button to deal damage, but that’s not too interesting. I found that by pressing the attack and jump buttons at the same time, I’d launch enemies into the air with an attack and could immediately follow up with a mid-air combo string. That was more my speed.
Wall bounces extend those combos, and when you combine all of the attack options in Shredder’s Revenge — including the ability to throw enemies out of the stage through the screen, which is absolutely delightful — with co-op, the game practically explodes with action.
Shredder’s Revenge has a wonderful feature where the game will scale in difficulty to match the number of players in your game. That difficulty scale doesn’t give enemies more health but instead throws more of them on the screen. Whether they’re Foot Clan that are reading the paper or playing on their own handheld consoles, there will be more of them if you play the game with all four co-op slots filled.
But I don’t see that as a problem. I already had fun beating on enemies, especially since every attack in the game is rendered with pixel animations that practically drip style. Throwing more just means there’s more combo food on the screen at any given moment, and in the chaos of a multiplayer game, you can team up and hit enemies back and forth like a game of volleyball.
What really makes a difference in Shredder’s Revenge is picking the right character. During my demo, I chose Leonardo, the dual-katana wielding Turtle. He’s the most balanced of the bunch in terms of stats, and others play radically differently. Raphael, for instance, is slow and hits hard, while April O’ Neil is quick and has a decent amount of range, but doesn’t deal too much damage. While I wasn’t able to play every character, my co-op partner played as April, and just by watching them take down groups of enemies I could tell that each character plays differently.
That feature by itself left me wanting to try out the two levels of Shredder’s Revenge I played again. I’m not sure how long Shredder’s Revenge is going to end up being, but it’s already proven itself as something I may have to run through multiple times, just to give enemies a wallop with every character it has.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is set to release this year on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC. The game can be wishlisted right now on Steam.
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