TMNT: The Cowabunga Collection Review
One of the most iconic symbols of 80s pop culture is without a doubt the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT). If you grew up during those times, you can thank these heroes in a half-shell for your pizza cravings and introduction to famous artists like Leonardo and Michelangelo.
Since their debut, the turtles have appeared in nearly every form of media up to the present, from live-action to comics, to cartoons, and, of course, video games. As early as the 8-bit/16-bit/handheld/arcade era, TMNT definitely made its presence known.
A quick search will show over a dozen TMNT games, and without knowing where to start, players might be shell-shocked. Konami has come up with a convenient answer, serving up some of the most well-loved TMNT classics in one awesome package – TMNT: The Cowabunga Collection.
More games than pizza toppings
If you’ve purchased Konami’s Castlevania or Contra Anniversary Collection before, then you should already have an idea of what the Cowabunga Collection has to offer. This collection boasts 13 classic titles across various genres:
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Arcade)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time (Arcade)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game (NES)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project (NES)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (NES)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time (Super Nintendo)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (Super Nintendo)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist (Sega Genesis)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (Sega Genesis)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of The Foot Clan (Game Boy)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Back From The Sewers (Game Boy)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Radical Rescue (Game Boy)
Having played most of these, with fond memories of my token-spending arcade days, this collection is really nostalgia-packed. From side-scrollers to fighting games, players who have experienced these before will surely appreciate having these games playable on modern consoles in one convenient package.
A personal favorite, TMNT for the NES, was tough then, and still is tough now. In particular, the underwater level was nightmare-inducing, bringing me back to the times when I had to play it repeatedly to finally get through.
Players might also recall some of the side-scrolling escapades of the gang, but included in this collection is a really cool fighting game called Tournament Fighters, which actually had 3 versions that differed in content per system. Repeating this game multiple times seems like bloat to some, but fans will surely appreciate everything being put right at their fingertips.
All of these games are considered basic when compared to more contemporary outings, even against TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge, but the nostalgia kick is definitely a big plus.
To appeal to a more modern crowd, TMNT: The Cowabunga Collection includes a lot of features. For starters, it’s actually surprising that you can play every game in either its Japanese or US forms. While the only differences are the titles and text, it’s a unique touch, especially for players that prefer a certain region to accurately relive the good old days.
The collection also features the usual trimmings of modern ports, like being able to save and load your games in a snap, which proves to be useful, especially for those excruciatingly difficult areas like the underwater area of the NES game.
Another nice touch is courtesy of the rewind feature, where you can literally rewind your game a la Prince of Persia’s Sands of Time for a few seconds, useful for those accidental falls. This feature certainly came in handy while playing through that darn underwater level (sorry)!
Time capsule done right
The cherry on top of TMNT: The Cowabunga Collection’s nostalgia cake is the Turtle’s Lair – a veritable museum of all things turtle-related. Here, you can find a whole heap of content, like the animation frames from various cartoons, and even various comic book covers.
There are even scans of various strategy guides on how to play and beat certain games, which were helpful considering some of these games can be pretty challenging.
A personal favorite of mine was seeing all of the various game boxes released, complete with tiny scratches for the authentic look!
Whereas some other collections only include pieces of history, it is quite remarkable that Konami went above and beyond to compile everything and include it in this package. It is arguable that they don’t directly add to the game experience, but the value of this collection is unmistakable.
What We Liked:
- Diverse collection of TMNT games from the past
- Massive amount of side-content (comic book covers, game box art, strategy guide scans)
- Save/Load and Rewind help with game progression
What We Didn’t Like:
- Multiple ports of some games, bloating the collection
- Online mode needs some work
Verdict: Buy It!
TMNT: The Cowabunga Collection certainly deserves its title as a collection that’s as awesome as the franchise itself. From classic games to nostalgic side content, this is a dream come true for longtime fans.
Konami has gone above and beyond to make this package worth it, filling up the Turtle’s Lair virtual museum with enough material to justify calling itself a museum. Concept art, advertisements, guides, and even retail boxes are here for players to enjoy.
If anything, the online multiplayer needs some work, as it is nearly impossible to actually find a game. We tried, but never really got to play an online match with others.
A collection like this will mostly appeal to fans such as myself, but objectively speaking, the value in the collection is immense. While newcomers may find the games dated, TMNT: The Cowabunga Collection can easily offer hours of mindless fun for everyone.
*TMNT: The Cowabunga Collection was reviewed on a PS4/PS5 with a review code provided by the publisher