Turtles in time 2.0
From the first images of TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge released to the public, there was no room for doubt: the app was going to be a real time travel machine. The very concept of the app couldn’t be simpler: create a successor to the extraordinary TMNT IV: Turtles in Time from Konami, released in arcades and on Super NES in 1992. And this even if it means ignoring the whole history of the license between this golden era made of large pixels and the modern era of HD smoothing doped with ray-tracing at all go.
Behind the project, the frenchies of Dotemu, officially crowned kings of the enjoyable nostalgic revival of their state after the publications of Windjammers 2 and of SOR4, and the Quebecers of Tribute Games, a studio founded by former Ubisoft employees who worked on the excellent beat’em up with splendid pixel art aesthetics Scott Pilgrim VS. The World: The Game. With such parents, the promise of a title with a chiadé design and effective gameplay was almost self-evident.
HASsnatching clothes the Hulk way
Unsurprisingly, after a few minutes of play, Dotemu and Tribute’s baby does indeed make you want to shout “Cowabunga!” in front of the world. artistically, TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge is an undeniable success. The software shines with a thousand lights thanks to its artistic direction very strongly inspired by the animated series Ninja Turtles from 1987. TMNTSR is a feast for the eyes: its pixel art graphics are a one-way trip to the 90s, the colors explode in players’ faces, the animation is rich and detailed, and each level is teeming with micro details.
Everything has been cut to flatter the oldest players and fans of the license TMNT : the story mode map echoes the TMNT from 1989 on the NES, almost the entire cast of the TV series is there, including seven playable characters (Leo, Mikey, Don, Raph, Splinter, April and Casey Jones). TMNTSR allows itself a few nods to comics, and offers a masterful 16-bit typed soundtrack by Tee Lopes (sonic mania), including a credits performed by Mike Patton, and an unreleased song by Raekwon and Ghostface Killah.
The result of this cocktail: a splendid game, incredibly fresh, with impeccable gameplay anddeliciously regressive atmosphere. Pure happiness for the fans.
Rback to 1989 on NES
TMNT Shredder’s Revenge is an ode to retrogaming, to the tradition of the arcade, smoky rooms that smelled of beer and cold tobacco, which spends its time nudging the ribs of players in full syndrome Stranger Things : “Have you seen how cool the 90s are?”. But past the wonder of the first game sessions, and once the story and arcade modes are finished (alone or up to six simultaneously), gradually settles an uncomfortable feeling of bitterness and an aftertaste of too little.
Although the story mode was smart enough to inject some light-RPG elements, with a points system to be acquired to unlock more hit points, more Ninja points (useful for special moves), or collect extra lives, the Arcade mode has remained in the purest tradition of 90’s arcade games: a few lives, few “continues”, and levels to chain until you end up defeating Shredder. And that will be all before the curtain falls.
“Il run away with the content!”
TMNTSR sins by its own will to remain a nostalgic candy, and above all a pure arcade product. In less than 5 hours, the complete adventure (Arcade and Story) is complete. The Story mode deserved more scale and ambition, the RPG aspect being totally underdeveloped. The Tribute Games software suffers froma severe lack of content. Its two meager game modes are not enough to bring the expected satisfaction of a beat’em up released in 2022, even if it is an indie game.
No versus mode on the horizon, not even a training mode, no time attack, no survival… TMNTSR is satisfied with the union minimum, including in terms of game design, too rooted in the 90s. The developers seem to have chosen accessibility to the detriment of game depth. The rare new gameplay features compared to Turtles in Time consist of a ninja superpower bar and the presence of a dodge. Skinny additions that fail to hoist Shredder’s Revenge at the height of the master Streets of Rage 4.
Fight to become the master of the arcade
The weight of inheritance
The comparison with Streets of Rage 4 was inevitable, and hurts Shredder’s Revenge. Two beat’em ups produced by DotEmu, the first being made by the Dotemu studio itself, the second by Tribute Games. SOR4 overflowed with content, with its ton of characters to unlock, and deep gameplay that borrowed heavily from the versus fighting scene guaranteeing hours of fun. TMNTSR pales in comparison to this. Moreover, it is in the game philosophy and in the very approach to the notion of revival that there is a chasm between SOR4 and TMNTSR.
Streets of Rage 4 intended to offer a successor to Streets of Rage 3projecting the license OR in the 21st century. Dotemu had taken a huge risk to do this: the characters had aged, Mr X had died, giving way to his children, two new heroes had stolen the spotlight from the old ones… The studio was drawing a line under the past, without free from its history, allowing it to evolve. SOR4 had succeeded in extracting the almost punk essence of the saga to place it in a case of modernity carved into a finely chiseled gameplay.
To more is immediately better
Conversely, TMNTSR is too wise and respectful of Turtles in Time. The Tribute Games studio seems to have contented itself with wanting to thrill the nostalgic fiber of the players, without ever taking the risk of offending them. The result is a title that has not succeeded in (or wanted to) cut the umbilical cord that connects it to its illustrious model, the fault of a too strong nostalgic desire, which has become a quasi-obsession limiting the possibilities of evolution of the game.
In reality, TMNTSR is not the sequel, but a disguised remake of Turtles in Time. By anchoring itself too much in the tribute, by taking up the same enemies, the same levels, the same bosses lifted to pixel art, Tribute has locked up TMNTSR in an almost permanent impression of deja vu for those who have already had the opportunity to put their hands on Turtles in Time. Between homage and remake which do not admit themselves as such, the border is fine, and Shredder’s Revenge seems to be lost there.
like deja vu
Faced with a new guard of 2D beat’em up with nuggets such as SOR4, Young Souls (from studio 1P2P, also produced by Dotemu) or River City Girlsand the revival of the 3D genre with Sifuhard to recommend Shredder’s Revenge to the general public. It will satisfy fans of 2D beat’em up, thanks to its fresh, fun and straightforward character, but is far too light to be able to claim its place in the pantheon of the genre.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge will be available on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch from June 16, 2022. This test was carried out using a Steam version provided by the publisher.