Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection

  • Online Co-Op: 4 Players
  • Couch Co-Op: 4 Players
  • + Co-Op Campaign
TMNT: The Cowabunga Collection Co-op Review
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TMNT: The Cowabunga Collection Co-op Review

This collection boasts a radical assortment of classic Turtles games, 6 of which have co-op!

Despite a few gaps in releases now and then, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been a gaming mainstay for over 30 years. It started with Konami’s first NES game in 1989, and then things really blew up with the arrival of the arcade game that same year. TMNT: The Arcade Game showed the world that the Ninja Turtles and co-op go together like pizza and cheese. Konami would go on to release a total of 13 Turtles games from 1989-1994, all of which are collected in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection. With features like online co-op, robust enhancements and emulation options, and loads of bonus content, this is one bodacious bundle for Turtles fans.

Following a brief animated introduction that plays a cover version of the 1987 TMNT animated series theme, the collection gives players a choice of three main sections: Games, Online, and Turtles’ Lair.

Games Menu and Enhancements

TMNT: The Cowabunga Collection Hyperstone Heist menu

The Games section is where players choose from The Cowabunga Collection‘s 13 games for offline play. The selection interface has both strengths and weaknesses. First, the weaknesses: there are absolutely no sorting options. The 13 games are grouped by console and then release order, and that’s it. You can’t sort by year or multiplayer support, two options that would really make finding a specific game much quicker. The menu only displays one game at a time, so the user might have to scroll past 10 or 11 games to reach a specific title.

On the plus side, the game selection interface is undeniably attractive. For each title, the menu displays the logo and box art as well as a looping gameplay video. These elements are surrounded by black and white panels from the original Mirage TMNT comics. The menu also displays the number of supported players and the options to change the region of the ROM, watch a complete gameplay video, and access Enhancements (game-specific options). When watching the gameplay videos, players can jump in and take control at any time – an outstanding feature.

TMNT: The Cowabunga Collection Enhancements Options menu

The numerous optional enhancements vary from title to title, and new enhancements have added since launch. A few examples: in the NES games, slowdown and flicker can be disabled; in the GameBoy games, players can select GameBoy Color mode (which adds a unique color palette to the sprites and backgrounds, doubling the number of on-screen colors) or three different classic GameBoy color palettes; and in the arcade games, players can choose the starting level, enable God Mode, and set the difficulty. I wish disabling slowdown and flicker was supported in the GameBoy games, but the enhancements otherwise support everything a gamer could want.

TMNT: The Cowabunga Collection Radical Rescue

The options during gameplay are no less impressive. Every game supports rewinding and save states – a huge help for the notoriously tough TMNT for NES. A widescreen border featuring the individual game’s art will display by default but can be turned off. Three screen size settings and three optional filters add further visual refinements. Controls can be customized, and all games have new strategy guides accessible from the pause menu or the Turtles’ Lair outside of gameplay. Yes, The Cowabunga Collection offers a fantastic experience for these games!

Co-op Games

Six games on the collection support co-op:

TMNT The Cowabunga Collection Arcade Game

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989, Arcade, 4 players): The arcade game remains a classic among the beat ‘em up genre, so much so that it even received an Arcade1Up cabinet a while back. 4-player co-op, amazing 16-bit graphics, digitized voices, and an auto-scrolling skateboarding level are just a few of the arcade game’s standout features.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time (1991, Arcade, 4 players): The arcade sequel is slightly lesser known (and the cabinet art was hideous), but still just as good as the original. The new “Pizza Power” theme song, the addition of Tokka and Rahzar from the second TMNT film as bosses, and time-travel themed stages are some of the new features.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game (1990, NES, 2 players): This stripped-down 8-bit port looks and sounds a lot worse than the 16-bit arcade game, but it adds two new levels with unique enemies and bosses. Despite the downgrades, the visuals and gameplay tweaks make for an interesting 8-bit beat ‘em up.

TMNT The Cowabunga Collection TMNT III The Manhattan Project

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project (1992, NES, 2 players): An original game that improves on the previous arcade port in every way, The Manhattan Project remains one of the best NES beat ‘em ups. A flashy intro, digitized voices (absent from TMNT II), and a wide assortment of bosses like Groundchuck, Dirtbag, Tokka, and Rahzar are a few things that set TMNT III apart.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time (1992, Super Nintendo, 2 players): The Super NES version of Turtles in Time looks and sounds great (despite some missing voice samples). Rat King, Bebop and Rocksteady, and Slash have been added as bosses (the latter replacing the arcade game’s lame Cement Man boss), and the hoverboard level now uses flashy 3D effects. Thanks to the various tweaks, this is some players’ favorite version of Turtles in Time.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist (1992, Sega Genesis, 2 players): While it draws inspiration from the two arcade games, The Hyperstone Heist is a mostly original beat ‘em up. Brilliant sprite work and backgrounds from Konami’s Genesis team, the addition of a dash button, and a memorable boss fight against Tatsu from the TMNT films all differentiate The Hyperstone Heist from Turtles in Time.