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Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection [Xbox Series X]

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have made 2022 a banner year. Fans have enjoyed a beloved movie in Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie. Then, it got even better because gaming-wise, we recieved the phenomenal Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge. What else could shell heads possibly want? How about an extensive collection of all the early Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video games? Enter Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection!

This mammoth collection includes every Turtles game from the NES, Arcade, Game Boy, SNES, and Sega Genesis. Whether it’s one of the arcade fighters, the handheld adventures, or the one-on-one fighters, they’re all here in multiple region options as well! 

So let’s break it all down. How is each game? How are the display options? Are there issues with input lag or online? Let’s kick some shell and dive in! 

Play how you want with the display you want.

First, let’s quickly go over the display options included in the collection. Everything you could want is here. Digital Eclipse is one of the best developers at ensuring these filters work close to perfection. You can set aspect ratio, filters such as pixel smoothing and CRT lines, and many more. All filters work across every game and do a great job giving the nostalgic feel you wish to create while playing each game. 

The NES & arcade titles

Now onto each game. While many of you reading may have played these titles before, I wanted to give a quick rundown of each title for some that haven’t. Maybe they missed out on them as kids but now have their own children that have become turtle fans. So they’re curious about The Cowabunga Collection. Let’s start with the NES and arcade titles!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES) 

This is arguably the most punishing game in the collection. TMNT for NES is a platformer in which you can freely switch between the four turtles. The game is notorious for its arduous levels and level design. And even as an adult, it still kicked my ass tenfold. If you’re new to any TMNT game, save this one for last. You’ll thank me later.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (arcade game)

This is an excellent place to start in the collection for new players. Not only is the arcade game the template for the other major arcade title to follow, but multiple console games in the NES, SNES, and Genesis. Simple but easy to learn and control. Plus, it’s still a fun and addictive game to play from beginning to end.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game (NES)

This one is interesting. It’s essentially a port of the first arcade game dumbed down graphically for the NES. And you know what? It’s pretty great! For only having two action buttons, the game still feels like a valiant attempt to bring the arcade game home to players. Worth a playthrough at least once!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project (NES)

The easiest way to describe The Manhattan Project is that it’s the first NES title, but with much smoother controls. And, it’s a lot easier. So that’s a plus! I had some fun with it, but nothing too memorable after beating the final boss. 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time (arcade game)

Another of the big ones in the collection, Turtles in Time, is considered by many to be one of the best TMNT games to exist. In either its arcade or SNES form (more on that later). It takes everything that worked about the first arcade game and refines it by adding more moves, bosses, enemies, and varied level locations. A must-play to anyone that grabs this package.

The SNES and Genesis games

Many TMNT fans are picking up The Cowabunga Collection for these two games alone. Konami could have just put these two in a package for $20, and we would have ponied the money up, even though they are essentially two ports of Turtles in Time. Let me explain.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time (SNES)

This is the crown jewel of the collection. Yes, it’s a port of the arcade title. But it’s one with even MORE levels, more bosses, and you could play with unlimited chances at home! To this day, this is Konami’s best-selling beat-em-up ever released on console. It’s still an absolute blast to pick up and go through, front to back. Order a pizza while playing this one for maximum enjoyment.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist (Genesis)

Let me explain the curious case of The Hyperstone Heist. Konami must have realized Turtles In Time would sell like hotcakes on the SNES. So they essentially made a version for Genesis too! Why the different name? My guess would be a legal agreement with Nintendo. But don’t let that name fool you. This game is also enjoyable in its own right, with a different soundtrack and graphical design. After you finish the SNES version, circle back to this one and finish off that pizza you ordered earlier!

Game Boy. Hoh boy

Before picking up The Cowabunga Collection, I had never played the upcoming two categories of games, the Game Boy and fighting games. So how did I fare with them? Let’s start with the little handheld titles.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan

A thing I always have to remember about looking at Game Boy games in 2022 is these games are small, and the controls are stiff. I can’t criticize too hard. It’s almost a miracle some of these games existed back in the day. That said, boy, I had a rough go with Fall of the Foot Clan. I can see how some kids had fun with it back in the day. But now? The stiff controls and slow pace made this a chore. Thankfully, it’s not very long.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Back from the Sewers

A step in the right direction, Back From The Sewers works in mixing 2D and 3D levels for a short and fun time. It almost felt like mixing TMNT II and The Manhattan Project together in one game. For a Game Boy game, that’s actually quite impressive for the time. 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Radical Rescue

Easily the best of the Game Boy titles, Radical Rescue plays out like the best action platformers of the early 90s. Even though it’s short, it’s shockingly well-focused and has fantastic combat and level design. My biggest surprise from every game included!

And then there are the one-on-one fighters.

Now for the other major game I had not tried prior to picking up The Cowabunga Collection. I say that singular because it is technically one title. It just got ported to the NES, SNES, and SEGA Genesis: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters

This whole game is an enigma to me. The SNES version is the best because it has the best sprite work, controls, and soundtrack. The Genesis version isn’t horrendous, but you can tell the system limitations affected areas that the SNES executes better. 

The NES one? I’m not sure why it exists other than to push sales. It’s so simplistic because of only having two buttons to work with. It’s literally a button masher! But I found it oddly charming. There’s something kind of endearing about how minimalistic it is. 

A treasure trove of extras for shell heads

For those that enjoy extras like the box art, concept art, and promotional materials, The Cowabunga Collection has you covered. You can find box art and manuals from all regions for each game in the turtle lair. Plus, a plethora of promotional art and concept pieces for each title. They even contain art stills from each Teenage Mutant Ninja Show! Season by season for each iteration! I timed myself. I spent forty-five minutes gawking at everything they included. And that was before realizing they had every game soundtrack you could listen to freely. If you like extras like this, this is one of the most impressive collections I have ever seen for a game.

Online & Input lag

There’s one last thing to mention. While I’m not a stickler for input lag, I know some are. In my time with The Cowabunga Collection, I did not notice severe input lag on any game with the Xbox Series X. At least, that was substantial enough to catch my attention. I have read that the PS5 version does have some issues. But in my experience, I didn’t notice a severe lag like in other collections (looking at you, Pac-Man Museum+.)

Online, on the other hand, has some significant connection issues. Most of the time playing with friends across titles, we noticed mild to severe connection issues. Hopefully, this can be fixed with updates and server fixes on Digital Eclipse’s end. 

Final Thoughts

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection is a dream for fans. With so many games (even some that are impossible to find physically now,) you can spend hours on a nostalgic road trip that will bring a smile ear-to-ear. While the input lag and online play might be an issue to some, you can’t help but be impressed by how lovingly Digital Eclipse put this whole package together. This was made by fans, for fans. So grab some pizza and friends, and get ready to kick some shell!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection is available on Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4/5 and Stream on PC.




Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection is a dream for fans. With so many games (even some that are impossible to find physically now,) you can spend hours on a nostalgic road trip that will bring a smile ear-to-ear. While the input lag and online play might be an issue to some, you can't help but be impressed by how lovingly Digital Eclipse put this whole package together. This was made by fans, for fans. So grab some pizza and friends, and get ready to kick some shell!

User Rating: 3.45 ( 1 votes)

Alex Lehew

28-year-old gamer, writer, content creator, weeb, and Sega fan! I'm old enough to remember when you played Sonic The Hedgehog 2 on a CRT, or how weird Revelations: Persona is. Constantly begging Atlus to make Snowboard Kids 3.
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