Review

Sep 15, 2022

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection Review

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5 Incredible
Retails for: $39.99
We Recommend: $39.99
  • Developer: Digital Eclipse, Konami
  • Publisher: Konami
  • Genre: Beat'em Up
  • Released: Aug 30, 2022
  • Platform: Windows, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Switch
  • Reviewed: PlayStation 5

What a year for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise in gaming. First, we get the incredible Shredder’s Revenge, and now we get a package of classic TMNT games which a lot of love and attention has been poured into. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Cowabunga Collection is what a turtles fan would expect from a collection as full as this one. It is the ultimate nostalgia package.

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From the moment the title screen loads, you’re greeted with the iconic turtle’s theme with some radically awesome animation to follow. Granted, it’s all very brief, but it got me in the exact right mood to hop into this collection. All in all, this collection boasts 13 TMNT games ranging from the handheld GameBoy releases all the way up to the Arcade Cabinets. Each game has the ability to play two to four players (if the original release supported it) locally, and some with online play. The included games are:

  • Arcade:
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles In Time
  • SNES:
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters
  • SEGA:
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters
  • NES:
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters
  • GameBoy:
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Back From the Sewers
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Radical Rescue

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This includes the US and a few of the Japanese releases, and as I mentioned earlier, not every game on this collection features online multiplayer. So if you want to dip your toes into online turtling, only four have the ability to do so: Leonardo, Michael… Ok, I’m kidding, but it is only four, The Arcade TMNT and Turtles in Time, The SNES Tournament Fighters, and the Hyperstone Heist on Genesis.

Hopping into the games, they all play exactly how you would expect them to play; slowdowns, frame drops, and all. You are getting quite the authentic experience, and everything is emulated incredibly well. In fact, I had never played any of the GameBoy releases before this review, and come to find out by playing through them here in the Cowabunga Collection, they are actually very good for what they are! Kinda bummed I never had those in my collection as a kid. But if you’re looking to spice things up, Digital Eclipse has included a slew of enhancements for each game that you can take advantage of. These enhancements will allow you to add new ways to play, fix some performance issues, or make UI navigation easier. Not all titles take advantage of all the enhancements, and some are only available on certain titles, but a few of the enhancements available to you are: setting your starting level, removing slow down & flicker, increased difficulties, god mode, infinite or extra lives, turbo modes, and more. You can even watch a video playthrough of the game and take over control at any time!

Honestly, the ability to remove the sprite flicker and slowdowns are the ideal way to play some of the older NES games. Sure it’s neat to see it as it once was, but if I’m going to play seriously, I need that performance enhancement. Also, I think Digital Eclipse is trolling the players a tad with the enhancements, specifically the original TMNT NES release. Out of all the games you would expect to get infinite lives or god mode, they did not include any of those enhancements on this one. In fact, I don’t recall there even being an option to set your starting level on this one, so if you want to see your way to the end without frustration, watch the playthrough, then hop in at the end. Also, Achievements /Trophies for game completion still pop if you skip or turn on god mode. Just sayin’…

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While in-game, Digital Eclipse gave players the option to rewind time at any point by pressing your left shoulder button (L1 in my case), which should make games like the original TMNT release on NES a little more bearable to play. Along with that, pressing the right shoulder brings up a menu screen with various options. You can save your game (only one save per game), open up a well-put-together strategy guide on the game you’re playing, set controls, and play around with visual filters. The strategy guides are neat because they are original content put together by the Digital Eclipse folks that look like they were ripped straight out of the strategy guide books of yore. Some even include some fun facts about the game you’re playing.

Now, what would a massive collection of genre-defining games be without some sort of bonus content? The Cowabunga Collection delivers in the form of the Turtle’s Lair. Right from the menu, you can hop into this area of the game and find an incredibly dense collection of TMNT-related content. Things like HD scans of the original game boxes and vintage ads. Some of those images took me back and scrapped the back of my mind for memories I had totally forgotten about. It was a hoot to see some of these ads I actually thumbed through myself as a child, and don’t get me started on those game boxes. I remember my NES TMNT II box in all its glory, and to see it in high res was quite an awesome feeling. They even included the manuals for the games, and that too was quite a trip down memory lane. You can even browse through the long-running history or the TMNT comics through HD scans of the cover art. I was surprised that they had a comic my brother and I owned as kids that included a cassette tape of the turtles narrating the comic book for you. But let me tell you, the feeling of amazement I felt when I saw that they had all the cartoon series from ‘87, ‘03, ‘12, and ‘18 listed with each season included. I was about to lose my freaking mind! There was no way they were able to include all the episodes in this collection. Sadly, that was exactly the case; that section is only for a handful of frame grabs from each episode of each season. A cool thing to have indeed, but boy, were my hopes crushed real quick. Also included in the lair is a collection of the full soundtracks from each game which was also a pleasant experience to browse and relive some past memories tied to those songs.

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Overall, the Cowabunga Collection is a near-perfect representation of what a fan wants out of the package. 13 great games, an incredible amount of bonus content, and adding optional enhancements make The Cowabunga Collection well worth the $39.99 asking price.

PlayStation 5 code was provided by the publisher for review purposes