TMNT: The Cowabunga Collection: All on account - those turtles

Buy it now-abunga

Hell yes. I'd been waiting for this one with fevered anticipation for months. This may be Covid-19 time-travel but It ielt like the compilation was announced super flippin' early - indeed, it appears I previewed it back in March. That's a long, long time to wait for a retro collection, but my word, it was absolutely worth it. I'm going to post the list of games again:

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Arcade)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time (Arcade)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II:The Arcade Game (NES)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project (NES)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (NES)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time (SNES)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (SNES)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Tournament Fighters (MD)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist (MD)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of The Foot Clan (GB)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Tutles II: Back From the Sewers (GB)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Radical Rescue (GB)

Shit me. Excuse my foul language. But just look at it. You're getting what I believe is every Turtles game made pre-PlayStation 2 (an odd metric, I know, but I stand by it), and they're basically all brilliant. I'm not going to talk about them all individually though - I want to get into what makes this compilation so special. The extras.

Of course, your expected save/load/rewind are all here for the little babies (This is a joke. Kinda), but there's even more. Each game has an "Enhancements" manu of varying extensiveness, which offers even more options to tailor your play experience. For example, Game Boy Metroidvania Radical Rescue now has an option to add markers to the map, showing you the location of boss battles and other waypoints. It's a brilliant addition, because that game is old-school hard and this little advantage goes a long way. The game still retains its challenge this way, but it's now a directed challenge rather than aimless running around and praying you're going in the right direction. NES Tournament Fighters now lets you switch off sprite flicker (from which it suffered greatly) and allows both players to select Hothead, the large dragon that previously could only be chosen by one player. It's an addition that will excite about four people, total, but I'm one of them.

I've fanboy'd about Digital Eclipse before (and will continue to do so), but I truly do think they are basically the saviour of the retro compilation, which has seen a bit of a resurgence lately with all those decent ININ comps and the likes of QUByte stinking up the place with their wretched takes on The Humans and Immortal. Digital Eclipse are the best of the bunch, by far, thanks to the love and attention they give these releases. This is not just "here's some games", it's an extensive, passionate celebration of this era of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, all the way to the included museum full of ads, TV show shots, comic covers and action figures. All that plus the best Turtles games ever? It's that extra mile, folks. It's patching Lost Vikings 2 into the Blizzard Arcade Collection. It's adding SNES Aladdin and the Jungle Book games to the Disney Classics: Aladdin and The Lion King package. It goes a long way with a retro gamer like me.

The games are almost an afterthought, to me. I mean... there are no bad games in this package, not really. I've never been as keen on the arcade games as people seem to be, but I think that's kind of a nostalgia thing. Turtles in Time on SNES is still the very best TMNT game ever to be made, and one of the very best belt-scrollers - period. But that's not to say Hyperstone Heist isn't great fun and close behind it. Manhattan Project for NES is a surprisingly brilliant little take on the same genre and should not be ignored just for being 8-bit. The Game Boy games are all lovely, but I have a particular soft spot for the simplistic silliness of Fall of the Foot Clan and I'm delighted it's here.

Everything else is great, too; the fighting games are not to my particular interest but they still get played in tourneys and such. Even if they didn't it's still cool to have all three unique versions here, especially the NES game which is an incredibly late-life release. And if there's anything you don't fancy playing - like the good-but-frustrating original NES Turtles, for example -  there's a full-on "Watch Mode" that lets the computer take over and allows you to jump back in anytime. Wild stuff, really - everything that I personally could have wanted is here.

Genuinely it's tough to think of a retro compilation that actually includes everything I could have wanted, but this is absolutely one of them. I suppose I would have liked the GBA Turtles games, but they're based on an entirely separate cartoon series so I completely understand their exclusion. What with this and Shredder's Revenge, fans of the turts are eating pretty good right now. Like a mint chocolate and Bovril pizza.