April O’Neil Is My Favorite Character In TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge

April O'Neil Is My Favorite Character In TMNT: Shredder's Revenge

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge feels like a wonderful homage to the TMNT TV show that aired in the late ’80s and early ’90s, even featuring a remade variation of the animated opening and theme song when booting up the game (I may or may not have listened to it half a dozen times before actually playing the game for this preview). And while a sense of nostalgia certainly helped me enjoy my time with it so far, the game has plenty more on offer beyond that.

Shredder’s Revenge is a side-scrolling beat-’em-up that supports up to four-player co-op–it’s developed by Tribute Games and published by Dotemu. The game is narratively inspired by the aforementioned animated TV show and both stylistically and mechanically inspired by the TMNT games that Konami developed back in the ’80s and ’90s. It’s not a canonical sequel to that TV show or any of those games but feels like it could be.

Now Playing: TMNT Shredder’s Revenge April O’Neil Character Reveal | Gamescom ONL 2021

Like the games back in the day, Shredder’s Revenge features the four turtles as playable characters–Raphael has powerful attacks, Michelangelo is fast, Donatello has good reach, and Leonardo is a balanced fighter. However, Shredder’s Revenge also adds two non-traditional picks: April O’Neal and Master Splinter.

Although the latter may make perfect sense, some folks may be understandably confused as to April’s inclusion, considering how hands-off she usually was when it came to fighting back in the old TV show. However, more recent adaptations of the character have seen her take on a more active role in the turtle’s adventures and hold her own in combat, as she trains alongside the turtles under Splinter. A similar background was given to April for Shredder’s Revenge.

“Of course, April does not necessarily have a lot of fighting in the TV show, but as soon as we started the game, we knew that we wanted her to be playable and our mindset was that April has been hanging out with the turtles and Splinter for all this time, so of course, at one point she’s going to train with them and become a fighter,” Tribute Games game designer Frédéric Gémus told GameSpot. “And since she doesn’t have a shell–as she’s not a turtle–we really wanted her to be very agile and very fast, though I think she’s a great character for players who would like to combo or try to do more advanced techniques where she can juggle with many enemies at the same time.”

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“She’s always been a strong character in the series and we wanted to have some variety with the characters that you could choose,” Tribute Games co-founder Jean-Francois Major added. “And it really made sense to have her be a playable character instead of just being behind the scenes and in the cutscenes and whatnot. It was a no-brainer and that was something–even before we pitched to Nickelodeon–we wanted to include. And we’re pretty happy they went for it. Personally, I think she’s the coolest to play with.”

Major is 100% right–April is, so far, my favorite character to play. It’s not even close. She’s not very strong, but she hits fast with a mixture of close- and mid-range moves that incorporate her reporting equipment. It’s a lot like playing as a mixture of Donny and Mikey, but there’s a greater emphasis on stringing together specific combos as opposed to spamming buttons.

Splinter is similarly a great character for racking up combos on baddies, but his fighting style is more focused on juggling opponents in midair, relying on the reach of his claws and staff. He’s not nearly as quick a fighter as April or most of the turtles, but he’s probably the best character in the game when he comes to aerial combat if you’re willing to put in a little work to learn his moveset.

“[Splinter] is slower and more methodical, but has a lot of attacks that are useful for launchers,” Gémus said. “He can go into combos quickly. [April and Splinter] are more advanced characters to play, but all of the characters are still easy to pick up and jump in the action.”

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For now, April and Splinter will be the only new characters to be included in Shredder’s Revenge. According to Dotemu CEO Cyrille Imbert, there’s currently “no plan” to create post-launch content for the game, and that includes additional playable characters. “Of course, we all have our desires and ideas,” Imbert added, so that plan could changes depending on the overall reception to Shredder’s Revenge.

If you were a fan of the TMNT games that Konami made, you’ll likely enjoy Shredder’s Revenge, based on what I’ve played thus far. It feels like a spiritual successor to those games, emulating my memory of what it was like to play them as a kid with my friends.

“Going back with a pixel art style really played a lot in pushing that nostalgia factor that everyone seems to be praising,” Imbert said. “And obviously that comes with its own downsides. [Shredder’s Revenge] is a pretty art-heavy game, and it’s really a challenge to do all those animations and whatnot with pixel art. But I think it was really important to go back to that.”

“We really wanted to do something that was closer to the arcade experience, but more the way you remember it, rather than making it exactly the same,” Gémus added. “If you go back and replay those games today, they’re still quite fun, but after a while, they get boring quickly because it’s basically two buttons and there’s not a lot of variety and it’s a bit stiff. So I mean those games are great, but of course, if we want to do something more modern, we have to adapt.”

Gemus doesn’t think players will notice these changes to Konami’s formula. They have a big impact, but they’re minor. As an example, he pointed out how, in the older TMNT games, hitting an enemy off-screen would make you have to wait for them to get back up and then walk back onto the screen. “It would kill the pacing of the game,” Gemus said. So for Shredder’s Revenge, the game has been designed with solid edges, so that enemies bounce off the sides of the screen, keeping the action going until the combat encounter is over.

From the brief time I got to play TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge, I enjoyed myself. Even playing solo, the game is a load of fun, oozing with nostalgia and callbacks to decades of TMNT history for long-time fans. Even if you’ve never touched anything to do with TMNT, I think you’ll find a satisfying beat-’em-up experience here, one at least on par with other recent knockouts in the genre like River City Girls and Streets of Rage 4. I look forward to playing the full game and seeing if the whole experience maintains the same level of quality as the first few levels. TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge launches for Xbox One, PS4, Switch, and PC this summer.

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