Here we go again. It feels like it’s the early 1990s again with the re-emergence of TURTLE POWER in the video game scene. While the TV version of the Heroes in a Half-Shell seems to bounce between completely stupid and actually decent media with more movies and reboots on the horizon, it’s been even better with video games with the amazing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge being released, and now we get to relive some of the best Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection. So have these Turtles aged gracefully or should they shrink back into their shells? Let’s get into it… COWABUNGA!! #tmntcollection
Name: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection Platform(s): PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One/Series X|S Developer: Digital Eclipse Publisher: Konami Game Type: Side-Scrolling, Platforming, Fighting, Beat’em Up Mode(s): Single-player, multiplayer Release Date: August 30, 2022
A Wealth of Turtle-mania! (Game Selections and Extras)
Where to begin? From the moment you start Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection, Digital Eclipse’s refinement, dedication, and passion is on display with a remixed opening of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song with a recreation of the opening moments of the original 1987 cartoon. From here, you are greeted with new art of a bunch of the Heroes and Villains that are seen in the games and some options to choose from.
Of course, you’ll start with the “Games” section, where you get to choose from one of the 13 games listed below:
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)
Where Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection begins to change things up with this collection is that you have access to both the US and Japanese (JP) ROMs of all the games with minimal modification… (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade ROM feels like it’s the more recent 1UP Arcade version with a modified character select screen that is accessed before the 4-player ROM loads. Also, there are some other small changes like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhatten Project NES ROMs having the Pizza Hut promotion removed). While the difference between the US and JP games is next to nothing, it is cool to see the different box arts used in the game selection menu as well as helping every Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan learn Japanese. As it should be with all these types of collections, you do have the option to play these classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection titles with a friend on the couch, all the way up to 4 players for the Arcade games… Bring that old-school feel back people!
Online mode in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection consists of 4 games (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Arcade, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters SNES version, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Hyperstone Heist from the Sega Genesis) that are playable with up to 4 players (The Arcade games) and 2 players respectively (Tournament Fighters and Hyperstone Heist). This does look like Digital Eclipse taking what they consider “the best” version of some of the games and placing them online, I’m sure they are going to be kicking themselves for not putting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time SNES online as fans usually place that over Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Arcade edition, but that is what couch co-op is for. Now for those of you asking, no, you cannot use the enhancement options with any of these games… But some of the old codes might work if you know them wink wink.
Then you have the Turtles Lair aka Bonus Content… And wow, this is some deep archive stuff in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection. Starting with high-quality scans of the original Boxes and Manuals that came with the games back in the day, including the original Arcade board manuals which just about no one ever had unless you ran a very organized arcade. You also get a big collection of Ads and Catalogs, aka the promotional materials, from the back of comic books and inside gaming magazines from their respective eras, plus, the special promotional material that was sent out to advertisers in order to get them to stock the games.
It doesn’t stop there… Do you like Comic Books? Well, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection has a collection of covers (unfortunately no full issues) spanning multiple collections from the original 1984 Mirage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the cartoon based 1989 Archie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures, and more recent series like the 2011 IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Mini, IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe, and the IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:Urban Legends series. Don’t worry animated TV show fans, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection has you covered too with screens from 1987, 2003, 2012 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and well as the recent 2018 Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series; but like the comic books, you don’t get clips, full episodes, or even a trailer for any of the shows.
But if you like music, then you have 13 full soundtracks to listen to as well. Last but not least, you have the biggest “Behind the Scenes” archive of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game documents that I’ve ever seen. Starting with an official Style Guide, then heading into official Konami Japanese (Don’t worry, they have been fully translated) design documents for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on NES, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Fall of the Foot Clan on GameBoy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game on NES, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Back to the Sewers on GameBoy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhatten Project on NES, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time on Super Nintendo, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters on Super Nintendo covering everything from level design, animation, characters and so much more that it’ll take you a Turtle’s lifetime to read through it all… By the way, if you happen to have the PC version and can find a way to rip the scans of the game manuals and design documents, contact me.
You also have the usual Options menu where you can Change Language & enable vibration… Nothing special.
A Foot-Smashing Good Time (Gameplay)
When it comes to the gameplay of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection, you’re getting the better emulation that comes from using the power of modern-day consoles (or your PC). Digital Eclipse has a good track record when it comes to creating a flawless emulation state for other franchises, with the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection and the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection being prime examples of this. With Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection, you can see that there has been some form of time and care given to every game in the collection, doing the best that can be done with the ROMs that were available.
Speaking of the ROMs, they do feel a bit hit and miss. Digital Eclipse created a modified pre-load program for the 4-Player Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade ROM instead of giving players the option to use the 2-Player ROM which allows players to change Turtles when they run out of lives and continue, instead, you are locked into the single Turtle that you pick in the pre-load menu. Then there is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Fall of the Foot Clan GameBoy ROM, which has some weird glitch where Bonus Game 1, a number guessing game, cannot be won as the number required is smaller than 000 and larger than 999. As someone who has played the ROM version of the game and the original Japanese and English cartridge, I know that this is a glitch in the ripped ROMs only, and it’s a shame that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection didn’t get play-tested enough to catch something like that… But honestly, this is nit-picking at this point.
What makes these tiny flaws well worth skipping over is the enhancements menu, a toggle menu system where you can do things like start at a specific level, get extra lives, unlock characters, enable god mode, and lots of other features depending on the game you pick (Though if you know the old cheat codes, those still work in these games too). In addition to this, you have the ability to rewind 30 seconds of gameplay so that if you feel like you missed something, or dropped down an unforgiving gap, you can go back and try again without wasting time or lives. You can also save your place in the games, so if you need to do something else and don’t want to grind back to the same spot, you can just reload and keep smashing Foot.
Find yourself stuck on a level and have no idea where to go, or maybe that Boss fight has you ready to throw the controller? Well, no worries there as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection comes with its own Nintendo Power style Strategy Guides for every game in the collection. These small 2/3-page guides give you stage layouts, hints and tips, and even videos showing you a pro-level way to beat that tough boss. But for those of you who want to be a bit lazier, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection also offers a video “watch” option where a video of the game plays all the way through, but once you reach a point where you want to take over and play, you can do that… But beware, once you take over there is no going back. But this option is great if you can only manage to get up to a specific section and never beat it yourself (I’m looking at you, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles NES underwater bomb disarming level).
Then there is the online gameplay. While some games, like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection has the now-becoming-standard rollback netcode for online play, most of the games just have standard netcode using whatever you are playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection on. So if you’re on PlayStation, then you’ve got Sony’s network to use, Xbox uses Xbox Live, and PC has Steam (Not sure if crossplay is a thing at the time of writing). So when you are playing the beat’em games like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Arcade, you will begin to notice slowdown and frame issues while playing. However, some people have said that by changing the frame delay a bit, you can resolve this issue. Hearing about this issue sucks as 4-player co-op is the best way to play the Arcade games, and since we know Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge can do the same thing with up to 6 players with no problems at all, it makes me wonder if Digital Eclipse bothered to really test the online modes enough.
From the Arcade to the Home and Back Again (Graphics)
For games that are over 20 years old, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection looks pretty good on larger 40+ inch TVs. Most of the games are presented in their original 4:3 aspect ratio, which an exception being the Super Nintendo version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters, which has black bars on top and bottom of the game screen, presenting a 16:9 aspect ratio in a letterbox format.
However, all games can be done in a 16:9 framed version, zoomed to full screen, or stretched into a widescreen format (I DO NOT recommend using the Widescreen stretch on any of the 4:3 ratio games as it looks HORRIBLE). You also have the option to remove the border art and use 3 screen filters: TV Screen, Monitor, and LCD Screen (Again, DO NOT use LCD screen. Actually, don’t use anything other than TV Screen with the Arcade ROMs and turn the filters off for the rest). While I can understand why Digital Eclipse did these filters and screen sizes, it’s pretty good to play all the games in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection in the way they are presented, even the GameBoy games, which are a lot larger than the original GameBoy screen.
All the games in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection play really smooth, and the NES Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has the option to remove slowdown and screen flicker that is common with emulating older NES games, so you’ll be playing the smoothest and best version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on NES out on the market today.
Shredder Took April… Again! (Replayability)
With all the games and enhancements that come in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection, it’s going to be hard to get tired of this collection. While your nostalgia may vary when it comes to each game, there is more than enough to keep anyone, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan or not, playing for many hours.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection is one of those collections when bundled with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, will give something for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection fans to do for a long time to come. Plus with some of the enhancements doing things like “Nightmare mode” where the Arcade versions will throw more and tougher enemies at you, giving you more challenge once you’ve mastered the normal versions. I don’t see anyone placing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection on the shelf to gather dust any time soon.
A Nostalgic Shell-Quake (Closing)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection is almost the perfect collection. There are some gripes to be had when it comes to the ROM selection, play-testing problems, and some of the games not being online when something like zSNES can do exactly what with emulation almost as old as this collection. Plus it would have been nice to see some of the other versions of the Arcade game (Like ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amiga, or DOS for the memes) or other games included for a 100% complete experience rather than what was just popular via emulation. Plus the choice between the 2-player and 4-player Arcade ROMs would be nice too.
However, when it comes down to it, we have one of the best Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles collections ever made, then you get all those extras with the Turtle Lair, giving the hardcore fans like me a glimpse into the past that we never thought we would have. So with it, all said and done, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection is going to be a must-play, must-buy, etc… The only thing you need to do now is working out which game in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection you will play first… Luckily we have a guide for that.
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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection is the best, hands down, collection of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games to be put together into one easy-to-play collection. While there are some small issues here and there with the online selection, some ROM choices, and some testing issues, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection is going to be well worth the budget price that many people are going to pay to play it. Sure, you can go the usual emulation routes, but those routes don’t come with sweet bonus content and the excellent enhancements Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection comes with.
A solid collection of games
Enhancements that make the games better or harder
The amazing collection of bonus content
A small online selection (TMNT IV is not online… BOOOOOO!!)
Why no 2-Player TMNT Arcade ROM?
Online lag issues when trying for 3-4 players online at once