My fandom for TMNT has never been a secret. Heck, to this day I still have two thirty-something year old posters from my childhood hanging up in the basement. The original cartoon mini-series from 1987 rocked my young world. The Turtles quickly replaced GI Joe as my toy of choice. And in the years following, I remained faithful to that cartoon series. I amassed a gigantic collection of action figures. I saw the original live action trilogy in the theater. I learned to love comic books thanks to a compendium of the first run of issues. And I played a lot of Ninja Turtle video games.
There's definitely some classic Turtles games. There's no denying that the first arcade game, and it's sequel (Turtles In Time) are excellent and still hold up today. Then there's some middling or mildly interesting games. Like, Hyperstone Heist is a kind of neat remix of Turtles In Time for the Genesis. And Fall Of The Foot Clan is a solid Game Boy title, even if it's a total cakewalk. And I thought that the game simply titled "TMNT" was an interesting Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time rip-off. I even think that the original NES game was better than it's remembered.
But there's also a lot of really bad Ninja Turtle games. I suffered through the whole Gamecube trilogy for instance, and barely remember a thing. There were attempts to rip-off Smash Bros. There was an awesome looking cell-shaded Xbox One game by Platinum that just... ugh. And when you start getting into portable games, the library is a real mess.
All of the above is why I'm pleased to announce that in 2022 there's a bonafide great new Ninja Turtles game. That's right, folks. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge is actually worthy of the hype that it's garnered. Thank goodness. When it comes to writing about games, there's a really overused cliche. You just say that something is a "love letter to" (some other game or series). While I might feel tempted to call Shredder's Revenge a love letter to those Konami TMNT beat-em-ups, the truth is it's so much more than that. What it is, is a proper sequel.
Basically, Tribute Games has taken everything good about those old games - everything that you remember fondly - and carried it over while smoothing out the edges with quality of life improvements that would make the genre appeal to modern gamers. They've also done their homework. Shredder's Revenge is based heavily on the old 1987 cartoon series with obscure character cameos and throwbacks. They've also peppered in random bits and pieces from TMNT lore over the years. Did you ever wish there was a game that featured both Bebop & Rocksteady and Tokka and Rahzar? Well, here you go.
Shredder's Revenge also hearkens back to a time when arcades reigned supreme. As such, this is a console game with six-player co-op. On top of the four turtles you can also choose from April O'Neil, Splinter and (after unlocking him) Casey Jones! Each has their own abilities and drawbacks. Yes, this is a beat-em-up that encourages replays without making you feel like it's a tedious chore to see it all. There's also two modes of play - Arcade (preferred) and Story. The latter throws in optional challenges which push you to replay levels to unlock perks. I don't know, this mode feels kind of unnecessary to me, as this is an arcade game through and through. Except it just wasn't released to arcades. But you know what I mean. That said, there's nothing wrong with an extra mode obviously.
Beating the game took me about three hours on my first playthrough and sore hands aside, it was a great time. As a lifelong TMNT fan, I'm thrilled that this game exists. It feels like there's hope for an actual renaissance of good Turtles games. It's amazing to me that in a year that started out with Elden Ring, I'm still able to say that a new Ninja Turtles game will go down as one of my other favorites of 2022.