Earlier this year, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shredder's Revenge managed to reignite TMNT fever with a fantastic spiritual follow-up. And now with the Cowabunga Collection, new and old fans can experience the games that made TMNT a household name, but the real star may not be actually playing it.
The Origin of Pizza Time
The Cowabunga Collection contains every 2D game released from the NES through the 16-bit era. If you were hoping to get Shredder's Revenge included, or the other games released in the 2000s, they're not here.
Instead, you get every highly rated, challenging, and unusual TMNT game released during its peak. This includes the arcade games that are considered some of the best beat-em-ups, the different fighting games, to the somewhat obscure Metroidvania Game Boy title. The arcade and fighting games also come with online multiplayer which is a first for several games here.
Reviewing the games themselves wouldn't be that fair, as these are titles that some are over 30 years old at this point. Besides being able to play them, there is a turtle treasure trove of bonus features included in the collection.
Turtle Time Capsule
Similar to the Command and Conquer Collection, while some of the games arguably don't hold up to today's titles, a big reason for fans to get it is the bonus features. The extras menu of the Cowabunga Collection contains scans of all the box art, manuals, soundtracks, and promotional materials. For the first time in public, fans get to see scans of the original design documents, and even more. For each game, there is a special guide that looks like something that would fit in a Nintendo Power issue that provides tips, bonus information, and even watchable hints from the menu.
For each game, there is a separate menu that lets you turn on things like infinite lives and difficulty modifiers. The arcade games are all set up around free play, so there is no worry about running out of continues.
This is a collection that knows who its audience is, but I do think it could have been a little better in some areas to invite more people in.
A Ninja Nitpick
The Cowabunga Collection is clearly aimed at people who have nostalgia for the original games and love TMNT, but while there are tons of extras, not a lot has been done for the games themselves. Each game only has one achievement, and it would have been neat to tie achievements to more bonus content. As for the games, they are all basic emulation with the exception that they have a rewind feature if you die in the console games. I did run into slowdown while playing a few of them which makes me wonder if there are some bugs going on. Maybe it's nostalgia talking, but I remember a few of the arcade games looking better back in the arcade compared to these versions.
One thing that was unfortunate at the time of play was issues with the online component. Besides having problems finding people to play with, the game seemed to become unplayable if three or more people were connected at the same time. Not every game has online functionality, and I'm surprised that the NES games didn't have at least 2-player online play.
If you're a fan of TMNT, then this must be a good year for you between the Cowabunga Collection and Shredder's Revenge. All in all, Konami is definitely on a "mining for nostalgia" kick, and if this gets us closer to more Castlevania, and maybe a Silent Hill collection, then I'm all for it. For fans, this is easily a must-buy to have all these games in one easy-to-find collection. If you're a newcomer hoping to jump on the TMNT bandwagon, I would suggest picking up Shredder's Revenge and waiting on a sale for this set.
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