Finally, a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles beat ‘em up game arrived that aims to recapture the spirit of the nineties side-scrolling pixelated vibe that many arcade machines and home conversions offered—of which probably Turtles In Time is one of the most revered. Decent attempts on the GBA have been made, but since then, nothing worth mentioning, besides perhaps on Streets of Rage front.
Reviews have been mostly positive. You can read my own review here: I was more than a little enthused thanks to the wonderful combination of beautifully animated pixel art and a banger soundtrack. But the music seems to be something most reviewers hardly notice or only mention in passing. Here’s Rock Paper Shotgun’s abstract:
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, a sidescrolling beat ‘em up that aims to recapture the spirit of the TMNT arcade games from decades past, is both incredibly simple and a breath of fresh air. It’s a basic button-mashing affair that offers nothing new, but that facilitated a good old chinwag that I didn’t know I needed.
Emphasis on “incredibly simple” followed by “a basic button-mashing affair” sounds quite harsh: of course it’s a button masher, that’s what the genre is all about! Not a single word about the music or the soundtrack. Zip, nada, nothing. Did they press mute on their TV remote while testing the game or is their subwoofer broken? How on earth can you ignore the iconic music in games like this? That’s like playing Streets of Rage without having anything to say about the amazing techno vibe it gives off—mostly thanks to the booming soundtrack. I expect a lot more from professional video game reporters.
When I was typing out my thoughts about the game, I wrote “Other level soundtracks remind me of Sonic Mania, where the upbeat retro vibes also sent chills down my spine”. I didn’t think much of it, but after giving the soundtrack another listen yesterday, I discovered that both games actually share the same music composer, the brilliant Tee Lopes–who, by the way, also produced the music for Streets of Rage 4: Mr X’s Nightmare. Here’s a concrete example.
Consider Studiopolis Zone Act 2 from Sonic Mania:
Now listen to Mall Meltdown from Shredder’s Revenge:
1:20 in the Mall Meltdown song, that sequence gives me clear Sonic-like vibes. And by that I mean good Sonic vibes—the good ol’ 2D kind of Sonic vibes with clear jazzy synth influences that parhaps even are reminiscent of Epic’s Jazz Jackrabbit.
In any case, I’m flabbergasted that so many reporters omit thinking and talking about music in video games. Shredder’s Revenge has some big names attached to it: during the final boss battle, you can hear Ghostface Killah and Raekwon dropping rhymes in We Ain’t Come To Lose. It’s far from an instant Wu-tang classic, but it’s an admirable effort and neatly fits the atmosphere of that moment. Mega Ran takes care of the ending credits music, which is a bit of a shame, as most people tend to skip that. And Mega Ran certainly deserves a lot of credit: just listen to his Castlevania-inspired Sweet Sorrow from Nocturnal Cantata.
Yes, the game is very short: it takes about two to three hours to finish story mode. But it’s currently
€22 and has a ton of replayability value, and is indeed best enjoyed with a few friends. If you, like me, love Tee Lopes' work, please consider buying the OST on Bandcamp. There’s even a CD and vinyl edition for physical affictionados, shipping in October 2022.