August 26, 2021 —  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is putting a new hero in the spotlight — and Foot Soldiers are going to hate being on the business end of her microphone. For the first time in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ gaming history, April O’Neil will join the fight, equipped with a sassy attitude, her trusty camera, and a Harley Quinn-esque mallet.

In a new trailer dropped during the 2021 Gamescom event, Tribute Games revealed that O’Neil will be joining Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael in an all-new side-scrolling beat ‘em up for the Switch and PC. The retro brawler will see the shelled quartet squaring off against their arch-nemesis Shredder once again as he partners with Krang and a host of other baddies to wreak havoc on the world. Classic villains from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles universe return to aid Shredder and Krang, including everyone’s favorite bumbling anthropomorphic duo, Bebop, and Rocksteady.

Building a Roster of Nostalgia

In the new trailer, O’Neil proves herself as a formidable fighter, using a bevy of heavy-hitting moves and specials to wallop the Foot Clan and mousers alike. Don’t be fooled by the cutesy sprite and her iconic yellow outfit. O’Neil is here to brawl, and she’s pulling no punches.

The inclusion of April O’Neil on the roster of playable fighters does beg the question, “Is Casey Jones next?” Added to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles universe in 1985, the hockey-masked vigilante has been a long-term ally to the mutated turtles. His video game career started with Tournament Fighters and has spanned titles like Battle Nexus and Mutant Melee, so Jones has already proven he’s capable of taking on the Turtle’s worst enemies.

If Tribute Games goes for a full roster of heroes, players may also see allies like Tiger Claw, Slash, Karai, and Leatherhead. Master Splinter, while a big part of TMNT lore, has yet to be announced as a playable character. However, he did appear during the animated portion of the March 2021 reveal, suggesting his announcement should be coming at some point. Even if it’s as a DLC fighter.

Reminiscing About Retro

Shredder’s Revenge takes players back to the heyday of “Turtle Power” with retro pixelated graphics reminiscent of classic arcade titles like Turtles in Time. The Heroes in a Half Shell will battle across familiar environments like Manhattan and the snaking sewers beneath on their quest to stop Shredder once and for all. Shredder’s Revenge features vibrant, pixelated visuals inspired by beat ‘em up games of the 1980s. Even the character design gives flashbacks to the Turtle arcade games of yesteryear.

Anyone old enough to remember the stale scent of unclean carpeting and the heft of plastic tokens weighing down your pockets will likely recall the 1989 arcade cabinet. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cabinet is exactly what Shredder’s Revenge is emulating with its side-scrolling combat. While there are obvious comparisons to draw, there are quite a few changes that came with the passage of time. For one, O’Neil certainly doesn’t need any saving.

While the game’s combat is all new, there are some neat callbacks to older Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle titles like the 1989 cabinet, including each character’s room-clearing spinning attacks. There’s a bit more color this time around, but they serve the same purpose they did 30 years ago.

It may be impossible to overlook the visual ties to the 1980s, but it’s very clear that the combat is catered to a modern audience. Most noticeable is the fast-paced combat coupled with brilliant particle effects set against stunning backdrops.

Teaming Up to Save New York

As if adding April O’Neil to an already anticipated title to save New York wasn’t exciting enough, Tribute Games also showcased a few more team-based attacks. Up to four players can take on Shredder’s forces, and one of the game’s features takes advantage of this very well. Characters can team up to perform powerful attacks, such as launching off another’s back for an upward assault or being thrown at a group of enemies like a bowling ball. It also looks like players will be able to sandwich players between shells in a classic Turtle move. To keep things fresh, each character will also have their own skills and moves. No one, especially O’Neil, should feel like a simple reskin of another character.

A Long Wait to Be Shell Shocked

As exciting as all of this is, we still have a while to wait until Shredder’s Revenge is in our hands. One thing missing from the Gamescom trailer was an official release date, so we’re still left with a generic 2022 launch for the Nintendo Switch and PC.