When I reviewed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge earlier this year, I said it was a “delightful love letter to a beloved franchise.” Now, Dimension Shellshock, the game’s first DLC, has arrived to prove that sometimes bigger is indeed better, and more Ninja Turtles action is always a welcome treat.
A Solid Package
This Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles DLC goes above and beyond in delivering what fans crave. In addition to a delightful selection of new character color palettes, some of which are available as a free update alongside the DLC, it introduces an entirely new game mode, two fresh faces to the fighter lineup—Usagi Yojimbo and Karai—and a collection of electrifying original music tracks by the talented composer Tee Lopes.
Survival Mode Shines
Let’s begin with the standout feature: Survival mode. If you didn’t initially envision a roguelike approach to the beat ’em up genre when playing through the Story mode of Shredder’s Revenge, you’re not alone. However, after tackling waves of formidable adversaries, relishing the allure of power-up opportunities, and succumbing to the irresistible temptation of “just one more run,” I was pleasantly surprised that this new addition keeps the Turtle power alive.
Survival mode starts with an engaging cutscene featuring the Neutrinos from Dimension X, warning our beloved Turtles about Shredder’s sinister plan to conquer the multiverse. Our heroes, now joined by a ninja rabbit and a former Foot Clan member, leap into action to foil the villain’s scheme once again.
The core gameplay loop is straightforward: you venture into one of the five fresh Dimension settings, featuring standout environments like the retro ‘8-Bit Battleground’ and the comic book-inspired ‘Mirage’ locales. Your mission is clear: defeat waves of adversaries and gather shards to complete a Dimension Crystal, which propels you to the next area. Upon defeat, your collected Crystals transform into upgrades for your next attempt. This setup embodies the essence of a roguelike, reminiscent of Dotemu’s previous Survival Mode DLC for Streets of Rage 4.
A Pleasant Twist
To keep things from feeling monotonous, a clever twist has been added to the mode. Before diving into the next battle, you can choose between two upgrades. These range from extra shards and health to unique power-ups or the chance to temporarily transform into iconic villains. These rewards, with varying degrees of usefulness, introduce an engaging risk/reward element to what might otherwise be a simple cycle of punching, collecting, and repeating. Do you play it safe and secure a health boost from a Pizza Box every time, or do you take a chance on a bundle of shards to expedite your progress? Including boss battles within the enemy wave lineup further emphasizes the importance of your bonus choices, making each decision potentially game-changing.
An Early Challenge
The initial stages can be pretty challenging, as each character starts with only one life and limited hit points, requiring you to reacquaint yourself with your beat ’em up skills. However, as the upgrades pile up and the ultimate goal of completing five Dimension Crystals and defeating the Master of the Void beckons, Survival mode becomes incredibly addictive.
New Fighters, New Fun
But let’s not forget the newcomers to the fighter roster. While most of us have had the chance to play as various Turtles in the game’s main story, Survival mode encourages us to explore two intriguing additions. Usagi Yojimbo has seamlessly integrated into my lineup, thanks to his impressive speed, balanced range, and power, making him an excellent choice for navigating the more chaotic waves. On the other hand, Karai’s enhanced strength proves invaluable when facing formidable foes. Both characters are available for play in Survival, Arcade, or Story mode, allowing you to savor their new animations and combat styles.
The Final Verdict
Priced at $7.99, the TMNT Dimension Shellshock DLC offers exceptional value. It’s a rare gem in the world of downloadable content, matching the entertainment value of the main game. With the addition of the thrilling Survival mode and two exciting characters, it’s destined to become a staple for countless game nights to come.
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