Back to the Sewers
If you would have told me in the mid-90s, when my interest in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was at its lowest, that 30 years later the summer would be bookended by the two greatest Ninja Turtles titles ever, I would have been quite sceptical. Yet here we are, and the only difference is I stick my hand down my pants more than I did as a kid.
As I mentioned in my review of Shredder’s Revenge, if the Cowabunga Collection had been available first, I probably wouldn’t have bothered with the former. I still stand by that, as this title offers much more variety and added bells and whistles to bring these classic titles to the modern day.
The Cowabunga Collection brings together 13 classic TMNT titles from its golden era. From the often lambasted Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the NES to the universally beloved Turtles in Time on the SNES, even digging up the forgotten GameBoy titles and various versions of Tournament Fighter, this is all anyone who was into TMNT during the height of their popularity could ask for.
Tonight I Dine on Nostalgia Soup
I played about half of these games around the time of their release, so I am by no means an expert on all of them. With the exception of Tournament Fighters, though, I’ve played most of them via emulation in recent years, and these titles appear to play as well as they would on the original hardware. Experts and technophiles might pick up on minor inaccuracies, but if you haven’t played them since the 90s, then you won’t be able to tell the difference.
There’s no sense in going over each game in detail because if you’re interested in this collection, you’ve most likely played them at some point. If you are new to TMNT games, start with Shredders’ Revenge, and if you are still yearning for more turtle beat ’em-ups, then by all means pick up this collection.
The NES games were probably a lot of people’s introduction to TMNT in video games. The first title is quite divisive, as it’s a side-scrolling action game with questionable platforming. The water level in level 2 is what most people shit on, but the rewind and autoplay features may help novice gamers get past that. Truthfully, it’s not as bad as people remember, and take that from someone who sucks at video games. The other two titles begin the arcade beat ’em-up tradition, with the second game being based on the exceptional first arcade title.
Both arcade titles are included as well as the 16-bit games that were based on Turtles in Time, although the Genesis title is more of its own thing. The inclusion of the SNES version of TiT (he-he) alone justifies the purchase, given what the cartridge currently goes for.
The Tournament Fighter games were seemingly cashing in on the fighting game craze brought about by Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat. It’s interesting to play them to see the differences between the SNES and Genesis versions, and it’s also quite novel to see a one-on-one fighting game on the NES. Beyond that, the fighting games could have been left off, and this collection would be just as pleasing.
There are also three Game Boy games, and I’m quite interested in checking out the third one, which I have never played, but I hear it plays like a MetroidVania. The first one, Fall of the Foot Clan, is a sentimental favorite, as it was the first title I bought when I got my GameBoy back in the day.
Teaching an Old Turtle New Tricks
If the collection was just the games, I would have been more than happy with that. Thankfully, today’s consumers, like pro athletes, are always wanting more. Online play is available for the arcade titles, the SNES version of Tournament Fighters, and Hyperstone Heist on the Genesis. I haven’t played much online, but it was a bit laggy when I tried. Hopefully, this will improve with time. Couch co-op is also available, and up to four players can join in on the arcade titles.
Each game has a variety of enhancements that can be turned on from the menu screen, too. Some of these are mundane, such as reducing flicker or slowdown, but some offer unlimited lives or different difficulty levels. Overall, a nice way to mix up games that many have played to death and back.
Another nice feature is the ability to switch between the American and Japanese versions of the games. I had always heard that Turtles II: The Arcade Game was much easier on the Famicom because the jump kicks kill enemies in one hit. Overall, there’s not a ton of differences between versions, but it’s still interesting to compare the versions.
Outside of the games, a ton of supplemental material is provided via the Turtles’ Lair to transport the player back to this bygone era. Scans of the boxes and manuals are included for both the American and Japanese versions, but the Pizza Hut coupon was not included in the manual for Turtles II.
Perhaps most interesting is the concept art for the different Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle games, providing the player a behind the scenes peek into the making of the games. Nintendo Power–style strategy guides are also included to help players not familiar with the games.
I Love Being a Turtle!
If you played and enjoyed these games as a kid and have a somewhat current console, then stop reading and go on and pick this collection up. At only $40.00, there’s more than enough content to justify a purchase. Most of these games are timeless, and this convenient package makes introducing them to the next generation that much easier.