In a crowded video game season filled with announcements of new IPs and bigger game worlds to grind 50+ hours in, I craved a retro collection to sink my teeth into. I truly did not expect this refreshing change to take the form of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection from Konami. The last time I played anything of this caliber was in the action beat ’em up for GameCube called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (for the rest of the review I will be using TMNT for short) released in 2003. Upon booting up the game I’m met with a retro inspired animation showcasing the Turtles with it calling back to the 1980’s cartoon show. In the menu showcasing the multitude of games, I was pleasantly surprised with the adornment of comic strips. I started with diving right into the gameplay with the Game Boy games in the collection. That being TMNT: Fall of the Foot Clan, TMNT 2: Back from the Sewers, and TMNT 3: Radical Rescue with their side scrolling gameplay.

Nostalgia works wonders for annoyances and, as it turns out, I really missed a side scrolling level bookended by a Large Boss fight with literal health bars. Using pizza to fill my vitality was old school and provided a humor to the games. Specifically in TMNT 2: Back from the Sewers, when you pressed start you were met with a picture of one of the Turtles eating pizza and having a giant “PIZZA TIME” across the screen. I appreciate the touch, but I’m just a meme guy at heart. As the games progressed the animations and overall graphics became more memorable. I then played what I would say is the true draws of this collection: TMNT, TMNT: Turtles in Time, TMNT 4 Turtles in Time, and TMNT: The Hyperstone Heist. I have never actually played any of the Arcade games and also never owned a Sega Genesis prior to this collection. I thoroughly enjoyed the movement of playing these games as it was a change of pace in level difficulty since the amount of lives could be changed as well. The combo moves and throws were also used with ease to allow myself to be delighted with all the colorful scene changes.

Finally, I got to the SNES games of TMNT, TMNT2: The Arcade Game, and TMNT3 :The Manhattan Project. While I still enjoyed these games for the retro SNES graphics I felt they fell in comparison to the Arcade and Genesis games. Suffice to say I did not spend enough time with these games from the SNES. Lastly there is an option called Turtles Lair, which I did spend some time in looking though old Japanese Cover arts of the games – which was a nice bonus for the fans!

Visuals

While visuals won’t be the reason people play this collection, the fact is that visuals can still feel dated regarding anything prior to 1995. Then again, imagination is key when playing anything retro.

Audio

The sound effect that won me over during my playtime was the start screen notification upon playing the Game Boy TMNT games. There were no audio discrepancies in my playthrough. Thankfully the backing track was filled with guitar rifts upon my selection of another game, and I’m a sucker for that personally.

Gameplay

The quality of life changes in this collection are stupendous from the Rewind button to the Drop in, Drop out coop. It gives the gameplay moment to moment a sense of stress free enjoyment. Since the games literally can change the gameplay remains fresh.

Value

Since the game is currently retailing at 40 dollars USD and there is 13 different games that averages out to about $3.05 USD that is such a steal in this market for currently rising prices for video games. Also the nostalgia makes it easy to smile while playing it.

One of my favorite things for this game is the built in couch coop, I played with my brother in TMNT: Turtles in Time. It brought back good memories of a currently dying sub-genre. I then moved on to TMNT: Tournament Fighters and, while I appreciate the fighting game, I wanted to come back to it as Online play is currently not enabled. Once servers have been booted up, I will be logging back in for a multitude of PvP rounds. I would call this collection a true labor of love. From the graphics to the quality of life changes this collection will be a hit with previous fans and newcomers. Also the addition of the TMNT Lair brings true joy for historians of the franchise.

TMNT: The Cowabunga Collection

$39.99
8.4

Gameplay

8.0/10

Graphics

7.0/10

Audio

9.0/10

Value

10.0/10

Overall

8.0/10

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Paul Golyer