It’s taken a quite a bit of time for us to get to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection. It’s not that we didn’t want to, it’s just that we didn’t have contact with Konami’s PR team to request the game.

Well, guess what changed?

Yup! We’re now officially working with Konami and will be reviewing their games on the site! TMNT’s just the first, we also have Super Bomberman R 2’s review coming soon!

Before that though, let’s take a look at Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection!

What is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection?

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection is a compilation of 13 classic TMNT games from the late 80s and 90s. It is available right now on every modern platform.

The collection is developed by Digital Eclipse, with Konami doing the publishing duties.

Our review copy was kindly provided by the awesome people at Konami! Thanks so much!

As mentioned earlier, there are 13 titles total in the compilation (not including the 11 Japanese versions also included).

Here’s the complete list:

• 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* (SNES)
• Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters* (SNES)
• Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist* (SEGA Mega Drive)
• Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (SEGA Mega Drive)
• Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of The Foot Clan (GB)
• Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Back From The Sewers (GB)
• Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Radical Rescue (GB)

You might have noticed that some titles have an asterisk next to them. That means that they’re also playable online.

As somebody who grew up with these games (the only ones I never played growing up were the SNES and Tournament Fighters games), I have a ton of nostalgia associated with them, especially for The Hyperstone Heist on the Mega Drive, which I used to play religiously with my cousin and late grandfather.

It’s simply stating a fact that Konami was king of the beat’em up genre (of which many of the games in the collection are) and that the TMNT games (alongside The Simpsons and the X-Men arcade games) were the reason why.

It’s been decades since these titles were new, but their pixel art style (especially for the arcade, SNES and Mega Drive games) still hold up really well even now. Gameplay on the other hand is hit and miss.

The beat’em up games are tremendous fun (especially if you get a partner) but some of the titles are kind of bad. The Tournament Fighter games particularly crappy. If you’ve not guessed by now, they’re Street Fighter II clones (which were all the rage back then in the 90s). They weren’t any good back in the day, and they are still crap today.

The original TMNT game on the NES benefits the most from this collection methinks. The inclusion of the Rewind and Save States function in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection make it much less punishing (and more fun). The Game Boy games too!

For peak gaming excellence though, it’s Turtles in Time and the Hyperstone Heist that take the cake. Konami was at their best when they released those games. The beat’em ups had great gameplay, awesome visuals and best of all, cool bosses!

I’d begrudgingly say that the games could’ve used more enhancements though. I don’t mean visually because I’ve never been a fan of filters that smooth out pixels and make everything look like it’s been smeared with vaseline. Nah, I’m talking about optional stuff like being able to one hit kill opponents (some games do have this, most don’t) and the like.

You know, the things you could’ve done if you had a Game Genie.

Gameplay aside, there’s a ton of extras present in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection, nearly on par with Konami’s Contra and Castlevania ones. Again, like I’ve mentioned in a couple of review compilations, the main things that are missing here are developer interviews, ads and full fledged design documents.

I’d also have chosen to include the original TMNT comics or at the very least some episodes from the 1980s cartoons, as there are already a ton of screenshots from the episodes in the Extras section.

Surely, the licensing fee would’ve been alright to get a few episodes (or at least the full theme song, and not just the snippet from the intro) in?

Everything else you’d ever be interested in, is included. Box art, instruction manuals, even a basic guide book that covers all the games.

I had a hell of a time just browsing through the box art and reminiscing about the first time I laid my eyes on some of them. It’s quite a comprehensive collection, though I do miss the ads and promotional materials.

The Bottom Line:

Konami might not release a ton of new games nowadays but their compilation releases have been fire. The Contra and Castlevania collections both rocked hard, and both in their gameplay content and extra features. Now add the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection as another notch of awesome compilations to Konami’s belt.

It’s not perfect, but as a snapshot in history where Konami dominated with the heroes in a half shell, the collection does what it sets out to do perfectly. Sure, there are little things here and there that Konami and Digital Eclipse could’ve done better but in the grand scheme of things, there’re not really that important.

At the end of the day, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection is certainly worthy of your money.

The Good:

  • Lots of games.
  • Extras are in-depth.
  • Most games are still fun despite their age.

The Bad:

  • The DOS TMNT game (Manhattan Missions) is missing.
  • Extras could be better.
  • Not a lot of quality of life improvements.
  • No online for most games.

Sal's been in the industry since the early 2000s. He's written for a ton of gaming and tech publications including Playworks, Hardwarezone, HWM and GameAxis. Recently, Sal served as a juror for the Indie Game Awards at Taipei Game Show 2020. A geek and hardcore gamer, Sal will play everything, on any platform.