Monday, Dec 11, 2023

Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection

Big compilation, 3AM

Memories fire up like pistons in my brain when I look at the Cowabunga Collection. I remember the joy of Turtles in Time. The frustration and infamous Turtles NES platformer. All the rest, including showing people the SNES version Tournament Fighters to win their attention while they were playing other fighting games.

These titles are not outstanding individually. Digital Eclipse has done a great job with repackaging.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - The Cowabunga Collection (PC/PS4, PS5, [reviewed], Nintendo Switch], Xbox One, Xbox Series X), Developer: Digital Eclipse Publishers: Konami Publication: August 30, 2022 MSRP $39.99

We have reviewed many compilation reviews. Let's first take a look at the available offerings.

Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesArcadeTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Turtles In TimeArcadeTeenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesNESTeenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesII: The Arcade GameNESTeenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesIII: The Manhattan ProjectNESTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Tournament FightersNESTeenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesIV: Turtles In TimeSuper NintendoTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles : The SewersGame BoyTeenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesIII: Radical RescueGame BoyTeenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesIII: The Sewers

It's quite a selection, as I mentioned before. There is so much to discuss, but we will start with the most obvious: the games.

Turtles in Time is a classic and can be considered the crown jewel in the collection. It was $10 on Xbox Live Arcade, PSN and still available for purchase via the SNES original in 2009. Its time-bending setting, ahead-of-its-time voicework, and varied level design helped catapult it to one-of-the-greatest-of-all-time genre status. It was fun to play through again in Arcade and SNES versions. The Arcade version has a lot more content and modifications.

There are likely to be a few you love. Hyperstone Heist is a topic that comes up often in Turtle game discussions. It still holds up today. Other than Turtles in Time I also played Tournament Fighters SNES. While it was a mediocre fighter overall, I still enjoy the arcade and versus modes, as well the inclusion of some out-there characters. Many people consider the brawlers/beat'em ups included in this pack to be a part of the entire collection. You can now get all of them together under one roof for $40.

Although they aren't "underrated", all three Game Boy games feel natural evolutions from the NES platformer's formula. They have simpler, more manageable level layouts and better control over the turtles. This is especially true for the third game, which features abilities that are specific to each turtle. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III - Radical Rescue is a standout because it uses a Metroid framework. This is actually one of the more meaty games in the collection and it will surprise many people by how much there is.

The Turtles' visuals are still very much in style, even though the graphics for other NES and Game Boy games have lost some of their charm. The source material's cartoony quality shines through, and individual Turtles beat'em ups are part of the golden age.

It can be difficult to calculate how much each entry is worth. Even if you only like a handful of games, it doesn't mean you have to be silent when it comes time to decide if it's worth your money. You can find a lot of information and playthroughs for each of these games. Once you have completed that stage, it is time to start looking at the collection as an entire collection. Digital Eclipse has done a great job of preserving the Turtles' legacy.

The Cowabunga Collection's most notable feature is its "watch" mode. An automated assist mode allows you to start every game and play through the entire run. You can also fast-forward to any point and jump in. You won't need them for certain breezier games but Turtles NES is the best choice, especially for those who haven’t beaten it yet. It allows you to access games that have always frustrated you, even if they don't completely save them. There are also enhancements [cheats] available in games, such as a level select or extra lives.

They're also very popular, as are strategy guides. These guides were created for The Cowabunga collection in the same style as classic '90s tips pages in magazines. They are quirky and have some really useful information. The best part about them was the ability to manually click on any strategy guide section and turn on any feature it suggests. You can even see "secret endings" without actually playing through the game.

For me, the extras menu is the most notable feature. You'll find manuals and boxes, ads and catalogues, as well as comic book covers and still screens of several TV shows. There's behind-the-scenes-style guides/bibles the designers had to follow for characters, and a music player. This is a complete history of Turtles, and I found myself spending an hour digging through it before actually playing any of the games. Filters include original, fullscreen, widescreen and TV monitor. Local play is supported and displayed on each game's screen is the number of players. Online play was not available for us to test, but The Cowabunga Collection offers the option.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - The Cowabunga Collection offers a wonderful repackaging and reinterpretation of an assortment of classic games. While I am not in a rush to play Turtles NES, I can see myself reaching for the extras menu and sharing any of the beat 'em-ups with my friends and family. Digital Eclipse has done a great job presenting these games in one of the most beautiful ways since their release.

[This review is based upon a retail version of the game that was provided by the publisher.]

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