|PS4/5 (reviewed on PS5), Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Nintendo Switch, PC
|August 30, 2022
In the most recent Nintendo Direct, about a third of the showcase was a mix of ports, virtual consoles, and remasters. We live in an age where every video game company is quite happy to charge us again for the games our moms donated to Goodwill after we went to college. Sometimes these remasters are full of extra content and quality-of-life upgrades that reinvigorate old classics; sometimes they’re just lazy cash grabs. Which one is TMNT Cowabunga Collection?
While these games have quality-of-life upgrades, the graphics and story have not been changed. They are almost all beat-’em-ups with very old graphics, but admittedly violent the whole time. There are also a couple of 1-on-1 fighting games modeled after Street Fighter. According to the ESRB, one of the games includes a character whose “breasts jiggle after winning,” which was enough for them to mark it for Mild Suggestive Themes. Part of the collection lets you look through old TMNT video and comic book covers and screens, and some have blood splatters. That’s so minor, though, that I am really confused as to why this collection is rated T while something like River City Girls is rated E10+ despite having innuendo and swear words in the dialogue. To summarize, I think it’s okay to let your 10-year-old play this, except they’ll probably look at the graphics and then roll their eyes, call you old, and go back to Fortnite.
If you asked my mother what defined my childhood, she would say Ninja Turtles and Ghostbusters. I watched the TMNT cartoons of the 80s almost every day. I had the nunchucks. I had the pajamas. I had the action figures. I had the crush on April O’Neil. And of course, I had the NES games.
I was far more of a “pro” gamer back then, before fatherhood inspired me to put everything on Story Mode. I remember that I beat Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, but I can’t remember if I beat the Turtles games.
Two things I know for sure, though: when I turned on TMNT Cowabunga Collection, I was hit with an absolute blast of nostalgia straight to the face, and that I suck. Fortunately, the developers went all out when it came to gameplay options: God mode, extra lives, simpler menu navigation, and even being able to choose your starting level. Additionally, many games include some graphical upgrades, such as the ability to remove flicker or slowdown. Unfortunately—and this is my only real complaint about the collection—not all games have these “easy mode” options, which removed any motivation I had from trying to seek the title’s (quite reasonable) Platinum trophy. I know I won’t finish the tougher titles, so now I’m not going to bother. On the other hand, perhaps these will be provided in an update. In addition, the game offers online play, but I am a cheapskate loner when it comes to video games and do not pay for PS Plus.
Apart from just having a ton of games in it replete with gameplay options, the other big part of the game is “Turtles’ Lair”, which is not a game at all, but rather a giant second helping of nostalgia. The game includes a humongous gallery of TMNT memorabilia: stills from the animated shows (from 1987 all the way to 2018) and movies, video game boxes and manuals, magazine ads, and more. I wish some of the comics were actually readable or the shows watchable, but it’s still a really great perk. You could easily kill several hours poring over the content provided.
Lastly, the price is pretty reasonable: this is a “decked out” collection of 13 (!) games for $40, occasionally on sale for less. Whether the games actually hold up will be a matter of taste; I think I will end up spending more time on Shredder’s Revenge than these titles, but this collection is so well done that it’s an autobuy for longtime Turtles fans.
The Bottom Line
Now THIS is how you do a classic collection.