A trip to the arcade past full of charisma that lacks some innovation compared to previous titles.
It's time to find out if the Ninja Turtles from the past also fit in the 21st century or rather if we are "doomed" to have only their modernised versions (they have always been "modern", this is not to criticise them). Nickelodeon has given power to both Tribute Games and Gotemu to bring back the classic game where it was at its best, namely the fourth part for arcade and on 16-bit consoles. This revival as such has been a success, and that may be its biggest weakness.
Neither a sequel nor a reboot, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge is a brand new game, which is simply based on that historical moment. This is due to its classic-looking graphics, which once again improve a lot thanks to the greater amount of detail that can be given to the characters in the different animations or content. However, it competes with other games which in that time were also very rich in this matter, so in this context it ends up looking too much like them. Undoubtedly, everything looks better now, but perhaps we could expect more from the present, such as interactions with the environment or between characters.
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The designers tried hard to create something similar to the classic Ninja Turtles that they kept the same narrow levels packed with a similar amount of enemies at the same time. This was (and still is) a way to keep the fast pace of the game and to always have combat going on, but they missed the chance to show off more in terms of set up and presentation. We can't expect anything more than a linear progression with some slight rise and fall and a little jump every now and then, because there's nothing more to it. The new double jump is completely wasted. There's no surfing in the sewers now, but there are a few flying skating missions where reactions are more important than actual combat.
Imitating (or repeating) a 30-year-old screen style is only the beginning of what this game has inherited from previous titles. This is the strongest criticism that can be done, given it affects every single element: Shredder's Revenge is too much like Turtles in Time and other previous titles. The current soundtrack is the only thing that makes it leap forward in time, and wow, it isn't a great leap.
Not only is it full of nods, such as the whole mess starting again through the TV, but they brought back pretty much everything. They copied the phase introduction screens, with the anonymous main enemy cut out in a black background and a sentence to locate the player in the map of New York. As are almost all the enemies: colourful ninjas, some of them even with the same behaviour or weapon as in the fourth part, robots, and the vast majority of the bosses. Same applies to the objects in the stage, such as cones, hydrants and traps such as sewers.
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Perhaps the most disappointing thing is that too many of the main enemies are not only repeated, but they also behave exactly the same, such as Baxter. With an improved combat system and all the possibilities we have nowadays, it was the perfect opportunity to create something more elaborate, even without increasing the difficulty of the game to not exclude any player.
Difficulty is a variable that I've always had in mind when playing and which I find very satisfying. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge is bearable but not boring; active but not overwhelming; elaborate but not complicated. With its three starting difficulty levels, it opens up a wide range for people with different levels of ability, and the way they managed to place the pizza "potions" around the stage so that they hit just in time is incredibly well done. With this layout, it's a beat'em up, which is very approachable for both youngsters and adults.
As I mentioned before, the double jump movement is hardly an addition, although it deals more damage when combined with the leap attack. The other movements remain the same, with a special mention to the throwing, in which there are zero innovations. Only the special power bar that is charged by combos or meditation gives a more "facilitating" touch and replaces the old red pizzas, which were all over the place in previous titles.
If there was one thing we were sure about in the preview was that the difference in skill between characters is very limited. The three main stats (range, strength and speed) help us in the choice between one or the other, and the effectiveness of their double jump with attack and a few more special movements also change, but that's about it. One of the new features is a simple system of unlocking extras based on the points earned, but it neither complicates nor distorts gameplay. What it really does is that it invites you to look for collectibles, so it's quite well integrated.
Multiplayer has always been the best feature of this arcade, and this time not only is it included, but there can be up to six characters on screen at once. I couldn't gather that many people in my house, and the online mode was not available to try it out during review, but I will say that the more people, the more enemies there will be to compensate. And yes, it's a lot more fun with someone next to you to share the stressful moments and because trying to revive your partner or share lives is quite interesting.
To conclude, I would like to mention part of the narrative, although it is less important than in previous occasions. We have to chase Krang's robot parts and it takes us through several places in New York and some other places I won't reveal. The best thing about it is the Super Mario Bros 3-like game map where you move, which is really cool and I would love to have that as a poster for my bedroom if this was 1991.
With everything in face and a spectacular ability to make you fall in love with it at first sight, as you progress through Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge the mixed feelings between how I love the way they revived this classic and how much I dislike it becomes incredibly strong. It is an incomplete victory.
7 / 10
Very well executed and finished soundtrack, pace and calibrated difficulty.
Too much cut and paste of previous titles. No variety between characters. Uninspired levels.