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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – The Cowabunga Collection Review

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - The Cowabunga Collection Review header

For ardent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans, The Cowabunga Collection is likely to be a must-have. Though it’s not because of the games.

13 of Konami’s efforts to capture the essence of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in video game form have been collected here, ranging from arcade classics to quirky Game Boy titles. With many being different versions of the same game, however, and many being pretty horrid to play in these modern times, you’re left with only a handful of games that you’re likely to return to. That is to say that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – The Cowabunga Collection has quantity, but not quality.

The highlights here are Konami’s side-scrolling beat ’em up efforts, spearheaded by the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game. It surprisingly still looks pretty nice, and while the gameplay is basic – even for the genre – it can be entertaining. But like any arcade game from yesteryear, it’s designed to eat your credits. Enemies – and hazards – are thrown at you thick and fast, and often their attacks feel cheap. Needless to say, those easily frustrated should probably avoid it.

That’s not the only side-scrolling beat ’em up included, with the highlight being the arcade version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time. The others are mostly console versions of these two arcade classics, with a range of tweaks, audio-visual downgrades and in some cases additional modes that at least make them worth a try. They also have their fair share of difficulty issues, and it’s safe to say that once you’ve played one, the others will feel very familiar.

Elsewhere in the collection are numerous versions of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters, which is is essentially a Street Fighter 2-style fighting game. Play it with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-loving friend and you’ll have some fun with it, even though it’s woefully unbalanced. The SNES version even has online multiplayer, allowing you to challenge players from across the world. Three other games in the collection have online multiplayer, too: the arcade versions of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Turtles in Time, as well as the SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive game The Hypestone Heist.

Related: Our favourite turtles in video games

By far the worst games here are those originally released on the NES and Game Boy. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the NES is a platform game that will make you want to tear your eyes out and shout at the screen, while the likes of Fall of the Foot Clan and Back From the Sewers on Game Boy play as dull as they look. Still, as least they’re here, for completion’s sake. Overall then, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – The Cowabunga Collection brings together a selection of titles that have been massively overshadowed by the recent Shredder’s Revenge, as well as multiple versions of a passable fighting game and a handful of howlers.

Being put together by Digital Eclipse, at least you know that the games here play as intended. And there are also a wealth of enhancements available if you wish to enable them. Some games simply have options to remove the slowdown that is inherently present in them, for example, while others have god mode toggles and stage select options. It’s just a shame that these options aren’t more consistent. Thankfully things like save states, rewind and screen filters are universal. There are even short strategy guides for each game at hand, offering advice and, in some cases, even cheats.

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What Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans are likely to love most about The Cowabunga Collection is its vast catalogue of memorabilia. There are game manuals, stills from the various TV series over the years, behind the scenes documents, and even a music player. It’s hard not to be impressed by the sheer wealth of goodies that have been packed in, and sitting alongside the games, this really is a comprehensive Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles retro game collection.

Like with any collection of retro games, if you have fond memories of playing what’s included here, you’re likely to enjoy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – The Cowabunga Collection more than those who don’t. And while there are some games here that are still enjoyable, there are others that we can’t imagine anyone genuinely having a fun time with. Still, as retro collections go, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – The Cowabunga Collection is comprehensive, and you can’t fault that. Add in all the fan-pleasing extras and you have a collection that is sure to find an audience despite its shortcomings.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – The Cowabunga Collection Review – GameSpew’s Score

This review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – The Cowabunga Collection is based on the PS5 version, with a code provided by eh game’s publisher. It’s available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch and PC.

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Editor in Chief // An avid gamer since discovering the wonders of the Acorn Electron in the '80s, Rich has nearly played more games than he's had hot dinners. Not one to put all his eggs in one basket, Rich is happy to play games of all genres, but he particularly enjoys racing games and anything that's full of non-stop action, especially if it includes a good dose of humour, horror or crudeness!