TMNT: The Cowabunga Collection review: Pizza with every topping

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection is an incredible compilation of retro games for modern consoles that will help foster a new generation of turtleheads and pizza lovers.

2022 has quickly become a spiritual journey of discovering a newfound love for the Teenage Mutant Turtles. I grew up without an ounce of knowledge of TMNT, and up until a few months ago, couldn’t even name any of the turtles.

The game that initially sparked my interest in the turtles was TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge, a Summer 2022 hidden gem that got me completely hooked on its side-scrolling beat-em-up combat. Now, with The Cowabunga Collection hitting store shelves, the retro collection of games gives fans like me a chance to experience the original retro games with a modern flare that I’ve missed out on for all these years.

After spending some time with each game, it’s easy to say that it delivers one of the best modern collections of retro games I’ve ever played.

TMNT: The Cowabunga Collection key details

  • Developer: Digital Eclipse
  • Price: $39.99
  • Release Date: August 30, 2022
  • Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Series S, PC

TMNT: The Cowabunga Collection trailer

Tons and tons of turtles

The Cowabunga Collection is an assemblage of 13 games from the TMNT library of titles that span all the way back to arcade cabinets and the early days of the NES, with tons of quality of life changes. This TMNT collection sports a ton of what retro-collections have added more recently with the ability to rewind, an option to save at any point, and the ability to pause.

Here is every single game that comes with the collection:

  • 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 (Super Nintendo)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (Super Nintendo)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist (Sega Genesis)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (Sega Genesis)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of The Foot Clan (Game Boy)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Back From The Sewers (Game Boy)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Radical Rescue (Game Boy)

The quality of life changes certainly was useful as, I’m sure many TMNT fans remember, these games aren’t as easy or forgiving as modern games tend to be. I found myself rewinding when convenient and pausing to collect myself when tons of enemy Foot Clan ninjas swarmed the screen.

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Here are all of the options you can change mid-game in TMNT: The Cowabunga Collection.

On top of the rewinding and various gameplay options is the ability to alter screen size mid-game, change controls to your liking, and set the screen filter so the game can look like it’s being directly ripped off an old-school CRT television or arcade cabinet screen. This type of customization ought to satisfy those who prefer the original way the games looked rather than the smoothed-out pixel art that the game’s modern versions sport.

The one game that stands above the rest here is Turtles in Time, both the arcade version as well as a Super Nintendo one, hooked me from the get-go. Using Mikey (the best turtle) was an absolute blast as I barreled through level after level with great fun, discovering the game’s smart level design, fast-paced action, and genuinely impressive voice acting. There’s a reason this game is beloved so many years later, by both TMNT mega-fans and gaming audiences in general, as it absolutely shines here.

It’s pizza time

The Cowabunga Collection is more than just some small upgrades to older games, however. What makes this game stand shoulders above other collections is the incredible amount of content outside of fighting in the streets of New York City.

Inside the Turtle’s Lair is a deep collection of comic book covers over the years, stills from animated TMNT shows, behind-the-scenes artwork of each game, Japanese box art, and a large selection of music from the retro games to jam out to.

The best part of the content outside of gameplay is the guides you can view for each game. This is especially helpful for Tournament Fighters, a fighting game that requires very specific inputs to execute devastating attacks from its wide array of characters.

They also come with hilarious quips from Michelangelo, who again, is the best turtle.

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There’s so much character packed into this collection it will easily satisfy any hardcore TMNT fan looking to relive these excellent retro side-scrollers with a modern flare. It also allows someone like me, a newcomer to TMNT fandom, to discover what makes this band of brothers so awesome.

Verdict: 8/10

TMNT: The Cowabunga Collection brings together over a dozen games from the past onto retro consoles with fantastic execution, and manages to do so with all the flare and humor fans have come to expect from the series.

Reviewed on PlayStation 5.

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