Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Cowabunga Collection is a value pack of 13 retro games from arcades and home consoles made by Konami from 1989-1993. It has offline co-op as well as online play, tonnes of game options and extra goodies to satisfy your nostalgia.
Firstly, I want to say that I absolutely loved TMNT when I was a kid. I am a Leonardo fan and my smaller self used to wear my Turtles cap absolutely everywhere. I have quite fond memories of the arcade style games, as I love side scrolling beat ‘em ups. I’m pretty sure my mum loathed taking my siblings and I to the supermarket, because every single time we would beg to play the TMNT arcade game that sat in the foyer.
So naturally, the first game I played from the collection was the arcade game. It doesn’t take a long time to complete but I did chew through a lot of lives. Unlike the version from my younger days that demanded sacrifices of silver coins, this time around I can simply continue by adding more lives to the pool with a button on the controller. With this remastered version, you can also change the screen ratio between original and widescreen, toggle the border backgrounds and the types of filters. I like the smoothing effect of the ‘TV Filter’ as it gives that old CRT monitor feel, rather than the over-sharpening of pixel graphics that happens to old games on new screens.
Many of the old games were notoriously difficult, so it’s great to be able to attempt them with save points, extra lives, and even a Watch mode where you don’t have to play at all. There’s also a built in Strategy Guide that’s stylised to look like old magazine layouts, but each section is interactive, as zooming in and pressing a button will bring up a video to show you how to get the job done! Each game has its own set of options in the Enhancement menu, so before you launch the game, be sure to check this out. It’s also interesting to note that if you change the region between the USA and Japanese versions of the games, the game title is sometimes different!
Another of my vivid gaming memories is playing Hyperstone Heist on the Sega Mega Drive (Genesis). Much like the arcade game, this is a side scrolling beat ’em up that allows for multiplayer. Hearing the synthesized voices takes me back to sitting around the game as a kid and parroting these lines back with my siblings and our friends. My particular favourite being “My toe! My toe!” from the hoverboard level when you fail at a jump, as well as the amusing animation to go with it. Playing this one again has been really fun, and it might be my favourite in the collection.
Many of the games that were released on Nintendo, I didn’t get to play as a child, so I’m really looking forward to giving these a go. While the original Gameboy games are in black and white as per their original release, it’s a pity they don’t have a colourised filter like the old cartridges did when you played them on a Gameboy Color console. But you can put on the LCD Filter for that authentic original Gameboy feel!
After a game session, it’s really nice to browse around the Turtles Lair and check out the amazing amount of archived printed media. From scans of original game cases to every single comic book cover, there are literally thousands of images in this digital museum to check out in your down time. It’s really interesting to see the variations in art styles, as the original comics had quite a gritty style compared to the kid-friendly 80s cartoon designs. I love it all, but I do have a particular soft spot for the cuter rounded style from the cartoon. It’s really no wonder I grew up to be an anime nerd, as the early episodes were made by Toei Animation.
I’ve been excitedly looking forward to the Cowabunga Collection since it was announced, and I certainly have not been disappointed. I recommend it to anyone that grew up playing these games that’s looking for some TMNT nostalgic fun.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection is available now on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC (Microsoft Windows).