The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Cowabunga Collection kicks shell

Konami /

During Sony’s recent Playstation State of Play several games were announced and I’ll be completely honest, I was not impressed. I’m a Sony fan but nothing really called to me. Well, there was one thing: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection.

I was not expecting this, I hadn’t heard anything about this, and I am 100% here for this. The TMNT collection, which’ll be available digitally and physically (I’m getting the physical one because beat ’em ups have a terrible habit of disappearing off digital, looking at you Scott Pilgrim), has 13 old school TMNT games. Here’s the full list:

  • Arcade
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time
  • NES (Nintendo Entertainment System)
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Manhattan Project
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters
  • SNES (Super Nintendo)
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters
  • Sega Genesis
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Hyperstone Heist
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters
  • Game Boy
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Back from the Sewers
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Radical Rescue

If you’re not familiar with the older TMNT games (or TMHT for my European friends) you might be confused why “Tournament Fighters” is on here three times. Don’t worry, you’re not getting the same game thrice. Have a seat. If you’re already sitting, spread awkwardly across two.

Konami made Tournament Fighters for NES, SNES and Genesis but they made a completely different fighting game for each. Each had their own art style, play style, characters and story.

In the NES version, which is obviously restricted because of the 8-bit limitations, had a bizarre story mode in which you picked one of the four titular turtles and fought each other to see who was worthy of fighting Shredder (which is weird) before facing off against Casey Jones and a dragon-man named Hothead before finally fighting Shredder. The attacks were very basic and, occasionally, a TV with Splinter’s face would float by and drop a red ball you could pick up and throw.

The Sega Genesis version featured a story that had eight playable characters; the Turtles, Casey Jones, April O’Neil, Ray Fillet (who was my favorite TMNT toy as a kid), and Sisyphus. They travel through a portal into Dimension X to save Splinter from eight clones, a Triceraton, Krang and the ninja Karai. It had a darker, more serious art style too it and even had “finishing moves” that could be done when low on health that decimated the opponent.

The SNES version was brighter and a bit more colorful. In THIS version you have to save a kidnapped April O’ Neil and Splinter from Karai. Pick from one of the four turtles and fight your way through clones of your bros, Cyber Shredder, Aska, Wingnut, Chrome Dome, War, and Armaggedon. Afterwards, battle the Rat King and Karai.

So it’s actually three completely different fighting games.

Now, I know most people are going to come for this collection for two reasons. The original TMNT for NES is going to be a short lived Twitch darling in which streamers showcase themselves getting frustrated over a notoriously difficult game, and Turtles in Time which is one of the most beloved arcade beat ’em ups of all time.

But these other ones are bops. Check these out.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game (NES)

What’s that? You wanted a Ninja Turtle game that WASN’T filled with massive vehicles that wanted to run you over, claustrophobic underwater states that were times, and just an over all game designed like they purposely wanted you to never ask for another game again?

Well, NES delivered with this one. Me, my brother, (and my Game Genie) spent a lot of time with this thing. It was a surprisingly faithful port of the first TMNT arcade game (as much as an NES game could be) with some surprising things added to it that the arcade didn’t have.

Sure, the game is tough and was created at a time where game developers still built games designed to eat quarters despite NES not TAKING quarters, but it was still a really fun thing.

Screen-Shot-2022-03-11-at-9-40-20-AM /

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist (Genesis)

I popped this in again recently and lost my mind over how good this is. Not only does it manage to take the art style and mechanics from Turtles in Time, but Konami also added a bevy of things to the game like different stages, better combat controls, difficulty settings, and the ability to change the color scheme between the bold colors of the cartoon to the more gritty colors of the 90’s comic book (sadly not the original black and white one).

Screen-Shot-2022-03-11-at-10-23-38-AM /

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan

Sure, it’s a Game Boy game so there’s not going to be a world of depth here, but the game was one of my favorite Game Boy games growing up. It’s easy, only five stages, and with the way the enemies come at you it feels more like a puzzle game than anything.

Plus, there’s these bizarre hidden bonus stages you get from punching certain walls where Splinter shows up to sleazy casino music and offers you a power up if you win a game of chance which is bizarrely out of character and I love it.

Screen-Shot-2022-03-11-at-11-07-14-AM /

All in all, the Cowabunga Collection is looking like something that’s going to leave me shell shocked from how long I stayed up playing.