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TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge Developers On Casey Jones, Mirage Studios Turtles, And Game Length

“My favourite is Donnie for sure,” Tribute Games designer Frederic Gemus tells me as I ask the question that every Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan considers at some point. “I can relate to him because we’re both builders of machines and we’re both nerds.” Meanwhile, Dotemu communications designer Jessica Richard opts for another, “It’s Raph for me. I like that he’s so straightforward and is always the first one to want to fight. I like that kind of character.”

Asking such an age-old Ninja Turtles question seems fair here, as both Tribute Games and Dotemu are clearly massive fans of the series, something that’s been clear from the moment the game was announced with Mike Patton’s wailing ‘80s theme song. Shredder’s Revenge quickly went viral after its reveal and has remained one of the year’s most anticipated games since, something that Gemus says was a bit of a shock.

“You know, we’ve been wanting to make this game for a while,” Gemus says. “When we met with Dotemu and they shared the same passion we just decided to collaborate. We knew that people would probably like it, just because we know so many people that love the older arcade games and TMNT fans, but a reception that huge just really blew away everyone.”

With so many different versions of the Ninja Turtles to take inspiration from, and even upcoming iterations that would make sense to capitalise upon like Seth Rogen’s take on the characters, it’s surprising to see Tribute Games go all in on the ‘80s, although a move that has clearly worked in the team’s favour. Gemus describes it as being “the best [era] for the Turtles because it has the right amount of creativity, humour, awesome characters, best toys and the best games”, although he also admits that the original black and white Mirage Studios Ninja Turtles would also have been cool to focus on.

Although Shredder’s Revenge is mainly focused on being a love letter to the ‘80s cartoon, Gemus says that there are also references to the movies, other video games, and even toys hidden throughout. Some enemies are even being directly modelled after some of the biggest toys found at the peak of Turtle Mania. This love letter approach to the Turtles is topped off with the return of all four of the original actors coming back to voice their characters. Richard says this was part of DotEmu’s approach to “always having original creatives involved when we can.”

Considering the genre and how much Shredder’s Revenge takes after Turtles in Time, one concern from fans is the game’s length, something Gemus is clearly aware of. He confirms that there are more than 15 levels in the game that last around ten minutes each, concluding that one run of Shredder’s Revenge can take around three hours.

That’s just one run of the game on the normal difficulty mode, however, as Shredder’s Revenge has plentiful ways to make things more challenging for veteran players, or for those playing with friends. In fact, the two difficulty modes, Arcade and Story, almost seem like entirely different experiences, with some features being completely removed depending on which you pick.

“So when you're playing the arcade mode, this is kind of like the classic arcade experience,” Gemus explains. “So you start with the character and a set amount of credits and you go through the whole game and get extra credits by defeating enemies. Meanwhile, in the story mode the game is more focused on exploration and completing each level one after the others and unlocking stuff on the world map. And each of your characters has a power level, so it’s a bit like an RPG with some soft levelling up. So basically you get extra health points, extra ninja power bar points, and you have access to different special moves.”

Gemus also confirms that the story mode will feature side missions and objectives to complete, teasing that certain beloved characters will appear and that it will “make fans of the show very happy”. It’s the one part of my talk with Gemus and Richard where things got a bit secretive. The tease of beloved Turtles characters making cameo appearances brings to mind one TMNT mainstay who has yet to make an appearance – Casey Jones. The hockey mask-wearing vigilante wasn’t a huge character in the ‘80s era, but became more popular after the 1990 movie and in subsequent adaptations of the beloved property.

“I’ve never heard of Casey, you’re the first to mention him,” Gemus jokes, clearly having been asked the question numerous times. “At the moment we are focusing on our six main playable characters. Back in the old days, you could just reuse the same animation and stick a weapon in it and that was your turtle. In our case, even the smallest walk cycle is different for each character so that they reflect the personalities of each turtle and each character. So, we’re talking about thousands and thousands of hand-drawn animations. It’s a lot of work. For now, we’re focusing on those six characters, but I mean, the game is not out yet, so who knows what will happen?”

Casey might not be making a playable appearance just yet, but Richard confirms that additional content could be added later if the game does well, which seems like the perfect avenue for the character to emerge, and something we saw DotEmu push with Streets of Rage 4. “We had a lot of things that we wanted to do after launch,” Richard says. “There are always things we want to add but that’s going to depend on if the game is successful and it depends on the reviews. It’s something we’re thinking about.”

There’s only one more question on everyone’s mind – when can we expect to get our hands on Shredder’s Revenge? Thankfully, despite giving a vague “summer” release window in the past, Richard confirms to me that it’s “a matter of weeks” until we find out the final date for the game. Cowabunga.

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