Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection review — A fun turtle-filled, time-traveling experience
As a lifelong TMNT fan, I was very excited about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection. Now, while these games aren’t exactly great ones, all of the classic TMNT titles are still in one place, and Digital Eclipse has once again knocked it out of the park.
While not all of the games in the collection can be considered “great” or even “good” on their own merits, the collection itself is remarkable. It combines the best TMNT games outside of Shredder’s Revenge with tons of bonus material for gaming historians to dive into.
Will the Shredder get served in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection? It’s up to the players to put in the work, but I loved it and look forward to playing more of it with my friends online.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection is a wonderful collection of games
For a reasonable price, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection offers quite a large number of titles. From the NES to the arcades, it’s a collection that should not be missed.
Here’s what users will pick up when they purchase this bundle.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Arcade)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time (Arcade)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Arcade Game (NES)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: The Manhattan Project (NES)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (NES)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4: 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 2: Back From The Sewers (Game Boy)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Radical Rescue (Game Boy)
I remember buying TMNT: The Arcade Game for about 10-15 bucks on the Xbox 360 years ago, so that on its own makes it worthwhile. No matter what classic TMNT game you enjoy, it will likely be represented here.
Whether it’s the Street Fighter 2 clone of TMNT: Tournament Fighters, or if you have some nostalgia for the exceptional TMNT 3: Radical Rescue on the Game Boy, it’s all here. I’ve spent the last day or so playing these games, many of which I played as a kid.
For example, I definitely owned Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the NES, and all that stress and frustration returned to me. I have fond memories of the game, but it is just as infuriating. These titles are exactly as they existed on their original platform, for better or worse.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection features enhancements and other useful features
However, it’s not all bone-breaking difficulty. Some of these games have enhancements to make things a little easier.
For example, you can remove the slowdown in TMNT on the NES. In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection, you can also turn off screen flicker to make the game fast-paced, as it should have been.
All games have some enhancements like this to make the game a bit easier, and you can also rewind if you make a mistake. Suddenly, that underwater level isn’t nearly as difficult as it was in the 1980s.
So for better and for worse, these games are exactly as they were initially released. Everyone’s going to have their favorites, and they’re going to be here.
There’s another feature to make these games easier: strategy guides!
That’s right. The games have strategy guides to look at that show maps, hints, and suggestions for whatever title you’re actively playing. If you play the mazelike TMNT 3: Radical Rescue, the guide shows the whole mazelike map and what to do against the bosses. These had a real Nintendo Power/Gamepro feel, and I loved them.
It’s a beautiful idea, and more compilations should pay that kind of attention to detail. It makes these older games much easier to get through, and instead of looking up a 17-year-old guide on Gamefaqs, you can just press a button and look at a color map.
There’s another really cool feature worth mentioning: Watch Mode. If you’re on the main menu, you can highlight a game, and it will begin playing through the game.
It’s like a demo mode you’d see on an old console, but you can fast-forward or jump in whenever you want. There are parts of some of these classic games that are incredibly difficult, after all.
It’s an excellent way to add accessibility to some of the hardest games of the NES/Gameboy era, and I genuinely appreciated seeing them. Will I take advantage of it? Of course not. I’m stubborn. But I love that it’s there.
Online is possible, but not for all of the titles in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection
Not all of these games in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection have online functionality, making sense. My problem was that when I tried to play online multiplayer in an open lobby for TMNT Arcade, it was immediately laggy to the point of being unplayable.
Then when we switched to a closed lobby, that went away. That’s not indicative of lousy gameplay design or bad online code. It’s more that other players might have bad internet.
It’s nice to be able to play with a full party of 4 but beware of other people’s internet connections.
I will say that TMNT: Tournament Fighters played nicely online, but I was sort of hoping for online lobbies for it. I wasn’t hoping for ranked battles or anything, but a lobby system would have been nice.
When I played with someone who had a stable internet connection, everything worked great. I just wish there were more online play options other than “invite a friend to play.”
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection perfectly recreates original games’ aesthetics
While playing offline, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection was terrific. That’s exactly how I remember playing all of them.
I wasn’t expecting or hoping for any kind of visual remastering. There are several filters to adjust how they look, and the sound was good.
However, in online play, the audio seemed to lack. There seemed to be a little bit of lag on the audio online, and while it’s not game-breaking, it’s worth mentioning.
When it comes to design, users could also dig through tons of behind-the-scenes design materials for these games, manuals, and more.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection is beautiful, and I could sit and read those documents all day. Digital Eclipse did a fantastic job preserving video game history here, as they always do.
For the price point, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection is an excellent bargain. These aren’t all incredible games. In fact, some of them aren’t even good games.
But that’s okay. That doesn’t mean these titles aren’t worth playing. There’s something here for virtually any Turtles fan.
Am I going to go back and finally beat the NES Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection? Probably. Am I ready to do that anytime soon? Absolutely not.
But I’m looking forward to more online playthroughs of TMNT 4 and TMNT Arcade with my best friends. It’s a blast to play alone or with friends, and between the guides, enhancements, and extra content, this is a masterfully made collection.
I do wish this collection had come out before TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge, though. It feels like the game is taking some of the thunder away from the Cowabunga Collection.
There are simply too many fantastic beat ’em ups right now. To see this collection after games like Shredder’s Revenge and River City Girls have been released, TMNT: Cowabunga Collection feels a tiny bit lackluster.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection
Played on: Steam
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC
Developer: Digital Eclipse
Release date: August 30, 2022