The time that Kermit the Frog first sang “it’s not easy being green” It’s likely that he was referring”to the” NES Version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
In Kermit’s defense, his track first came out prior to the game. However, even in the event that it wasn’t specifically targeted toward Konami’s 1989 platformer (and it certainly was not), The sentiment is true regardless of the context – TMNT played on NES was very difficult.
The Cowabunga Collection, the latest old-fashioned compilation by the specialists in retro gaming of Digital Eclipse offers an interesting mode that proves that although it’s difficult, it’s still not impossible.
As you can see in a number of other Digital Eclipse titles, the Watch mode lets you play the game automatically so you can master the strategies needed to finish each level.
When we say “plays the game for you” we’re actually saying it and not only a YouTube clip playing for you the pre-recorded sequence of buttons being executed in real-time it’s the video like a self-playing piano.
Since it’s actually playing the game, it allows the game to be played with a twist, which means that at any time you are able to press an option and be in control of the game. It’s like having an older sibling that gets through the challenging part and hands you the control.
Thankfully, the majority of other games included in the Cowabunga Collection aren’t quite as challenging as the original NES game that is famous for its difficultness (or at least in the modern era it is, but back in the day it was only one of the many difficult NES game titles).
The majority of the console games are able to be played The two arcade games included are standard early ’90s coin-op funfests that were intended to make players go through a lot of deaths, the capability to add coins can allow players to the way through them.
The complete list of 13 games within the collection, is arranged in chronological order The list of games is as follows:
- TMNT (NES)
- TMNT (Arcade)
- TMNT II: The Arcade Game (NES)
- TMNT: Fall of the Foot Clan (Game Boy)
- TMNT: Turtles in Time (Arcade)
- 2: Return From the sewers (Game Boy)
- TMNT III: The Manhattan Project (NES)
- TMNT IV: Turtles in Time (SNES)
- TMNT: The Hyperstone Heist (Mega Drive / Genesis)
- TMNT III: Radical Rescue (Game Boy)
- TMNT Tournament Fighters (SNES)
- TMNT Tournament Fighters (Mega Drive / Genesis)
- TMNT Tournament Fighters (NES)
The short version is that it contains every handheld and console Konami TMNT game released in the 16-bit and 8-bit timeframes together in one package.
Although each game is able to be played in its original, unmodified forms Each game comes with its specific set of enhancements that players can turn off or on to alter the game’s gameplay slightly.
The game’s features will vary, but the enhancements may be substantial or simple. The original NES game lets you repair the sprite and slowdown flickering that plagued the first game, which makes the overall appearance much more solid.
Some games allow you to turn into ‘god mode’ to gain invincibility or other aspects of quality of life that allow you to sprint easily and give you extra lives, or other features.
This aside, the emulator is as you’d expect from a retro-styled modern title, particularly one that is operated with Digital Eclipse. All 13 games work smoothly, with screen sizing and filtering options as well as the standard features of quicksave and rewind are available and have been included.
It would not be a Digital Eclipse game without some type of extra behind-the-scenes material and the section on the Turtles’ Lair has 3,741 photos, which cover not only the games but additional TMNT media.
“It wouldn’t be a Digital Eclipse game without some sort of bonus behind-the-scenes content, and the Turtles’ Lair section features 3,741 images, covering not just the games but other TMNT media.”
Scans of the complete North American and Japanese manuals for each game are provided in the book, as well as magazine ads as well as box artwork. Also, there’s a complete gallery featuring TMNT comic covers as well as galleries for animated shows (though they’re made up of screen captures for each episode, we’d love to have a synopsis of each episode’s plot).
Digital Eclipse has even created its own strategy guide online for the series, which is written in the fashion of a 90s strategy guide, with much cheesy humor. It’s a charming indication that this is truly an obsession project.
The most impressive, however, the best of the bunch is the collection of design documents for the games, which come with tons of character artwork as well as developer’s notes. Since Konami developed the games these notes are in Japanese However, a button press can open an entire translation which is an amazing addition.
There’s always room for improvement, however, and even though we love the effort Digital Eclipse always puts into its retro compilations – the studio can never be accused of simply dumping a plethora of ROMs into a single package and then letting the contents speak for themselves. There are some things we would prefer to see.
Video-based footage would be amazing whether it was developer interviews or an overview of the TMNT phenomenon in general. Since the television and comics are featured on the wall, we enjoyed a timeline that outlined the background that shaped the IP.
Digital Eclipse has gone down this path a couple of times previously (and intends to follow this path at a much larger scale when it releases its Atari 50 compilation) It’s been a fascinating experience. The SNK 40th Anniversary Collection remains one of the best works by the studio in this regard and an excellent example of the best way to position the games included in a compilation’s historical context.
It should also be noted that even though the TMNT games tend to be the one exception in the sense that licensed tie-ins aren’t generally that great, however, there’s a game or two games here which haven’t aged well.
“Although the TMNT games generally tended to be the exception to the rule that licensed tie-in games aren’t usually that good, there are still one or two here that haven’t aged too well.”
The NES version of the arcade title is the most frustrating out of the bunch, offering the clunky and monotonous gameplay as well as that of the Mega Drive version of TMNT Tournament Fighters Three versions are entirely different and leave a lot to be wanted.
The original NES game will surely be an unforgettable experience for those who remember the game at the moment, but for younger generations, it’s likely to be a grueling experience.
To the opposite side, however, this SNES game Turtles in Time remains a timeless classic and is among the best beat ’em ups that ever came out, and the way that the new retro-themed game Shredder’s Revenge borrows so much from it speaks for itself.
The third Game Boy title, Radical Rescue is also an absolute treasure, featuring a seriously amazing Metroidvania game. It also offers a fresh way to make it more modern by adding icons for key areas of the map in the game which makes progress much easier. Of all the games within The Collection, it is likely to be the one that will surprise the majority of gamers.
Some might argue – perhaps in a way that is unrealistic that the collection should have been expanded to include Konami’s second generation of TMNT games from the PS2 period, but the transfer of these (comparatively) complicated titles to modern consoles is an effort that would be best served by an individual remaster collection in the event that there is a demand for such a collection.
In the end, it is those that will most appeal to are the ones who were kids in the late 80s and into the early 1990s in the era of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (not Hero Turtles There aren’t PAL versions available here) and the fancy nostalgic 13 kicks.
A few of the advertisements in the gallery have removed game artwork This appears suspicious, but could be due to licensing concerns. This original advertisement, for instance, featured a Tiny Toon Adventures game
Fans who do not have a connection to the IP might not get as much enjoyment from it. While the bonus galleries of images are certainly a boon for fans who have been around the block but they don’t help provide a context for those playing these games for the first time, and could seek out an overview of the history.
Although the sheer quantity of images available is impressive and the design files are an absolute delight, however, it sometimes feels like looking through a person’s scrapbook, not the museum. It is a fascinating experience although we’d prefer more written content to accompany the background of certain things we’re seeing.
The only exception can be found in the magazine advertisements that include captions that provide commentary on each advertisement as well as the context it was displayed. They’re precisely what we’re looking for These are amazing and we would love to have seen more of them, especially in the section on behind-the-scenes that includes the design documents.
However, in terms retro compilations are concerned, the Cowabunga Collection is still on the upper end of the spectrum in terms of how the games themselves are handled and those who are aware of exactly what they can expect from these games available will be delighted to revisit these games, especially when they invite a group of buddies to come over (and have pizza for dinner Naturally) to play arcade games as well as Turtles in Time in co-op.
Another excellent retro compilation from Digital Eclipse that celebrates the golden age of TMNT games with the amount of respect they merit. The newcomers might find that a few of the games don’t age as well even though there are plenty of pictures, it’s not as rich in information as we’d like to have.
- Turtles in Time is still an absolute classic as is Radical Rescue is a hidden treasure
- The definitive guide contains every Konami handheld and console game of the time
- The gallery contains more than 3,400 photos, which include the translation of design documents
- A couple of games have aged poorly.
- Gallery could have benefitted from additional narrative or even video content.