The retro video game market is a bit of a nightmare right now. Collectors looking to track down specific cartridges are forced to pay outrageous premiums to satiate their nostalgic needs. Currently, a used copy of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time for SNES will set you back $40-$60. And, if you want the original box and instruction manual, be prepared to shell out upwards of $300.
There are certainly alternative methods, such as emulation, for quickly and cheaply acquiring any classic title imaginable. Still, for purists, nothing replicates that genuine sense of ownership. At one point, I was an avid retro game collector, and I scoured used game stores hunting for hidden treasures and lost relics. However, as my library grew, so did my hoard of untouched cardboard boxes. Eventually, I embraced a digital-centric catalog and its undeniable convenience.
Even though I’ve morphed into an uncultured digital heathen, video game preservation remains incredibly important to me. I adore the history of the medium and the fascinating mementos from its past. While not all publishers have championed the idea of accessibly reintroducing legacy titles to modern audiences, a handful of dedicated, passionate teams have proudly carried the torch and blazed a respectable trail in this regard.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection, the latest video game compilation from Digital Eclipse, stands as a powerful example of how to meaningfully deliver content offerings for digital collectors. This impressive assemblage of 13 NES, SNES, Genesis, Game Boy, and arcade games is elevated by gorgeous scans of original box art, instruction manuals, game guides, and '80s- and '90s-era comic artwork. Everything I love about physical collecting is neatly contained in one easy-to-access package, and I couldn’t be happier with this collection.
More than just retro Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games
Before diving into the baker’s dozen turtle titles included in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection, I need to celebrate the bonuses Digital Eclipse incorporated to sweeten this succulent smorgasbord. While it would have been perfectly acceptable to congregate these beloved TMNT games in one digital location and call it a day, the team went above and beyond to enrich the experience for players like myself, who grew up perusing instruction manuals and game guides.
Nothing will ever surpass the intoxicating aroma of paint, cardboard, and unfiltered wonder that came from opening a brand-new Super Nintendo game. That nostalgic blend of fragrances just hit different. And, until we have the technology for widespread 4D smell-o-vision, chances are we won’t be able to replicate that sensation any time soon. Thankfully, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection provides the next best thing by featuring an enormous exhibition of high-render scans of original video game boxes, instruction manuals, game guides, complete soundtrack playlists, and more.
I spent more time than I’d like to admit browsing this staggering digital archive. From revisiting personal favorites like the cover art for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time to rocking out the perfectly crunchy chiptune soundtracks, the amount of extra content included is unquestionably commendable. This care wasn’t just extended to English audiences either. The virtual gallery even consists of the Japanese variants for every title in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection. Digital Eclipse clearly worked diligently to ensure longtime fans were treated to one shell of a time capsule.
An assortment of certified classics
As I mentioned, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection contains 13 games starring Ralph, Leonardo, Donatello, and Michelangelo. Several of them reign as undisputed kings in the beat-'em-up genre. Understandably, many players will likely jump straight into the iconic arcade staples Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, both of which support 4-player online co-op. However, this fascinating collection teems with deep cuts like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Radical Rescue and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters.
Much like the box art and instruction manuals, every game in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection provides English and Japanese versions. Seemingly a minor detail for some, this effort from Digital Eclipse further demonstrates the team's commitment to producing the ultimate retro bundle. These scarce imports are now easily accessible and bolster the authenticity of The Cowabunga Collection. At the peak of my collecting phase, I dreamed about securing a Super Famicom and a Japanese SNES cartridge of Turtles in Time. Now, I can cherish the novelty without dropping too much money.
Additional enhancements also provide a more approachable way to relive these legendary titles. Unlimited continues, "Turbo" mode, rewinds, save states, and other game-dependent alterations eliminate the frustrations associated with the dreaded "Game Over" screen. Hardcore turtle enthusiasts can endure these trying gauntlets in their pure, unaltered states, but having some quality-of-life refinements goes a long way in edifying the fun factor of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection.
A treat for digital collectors
Historically, retro game gathering has been tied to physical collecting. I adore my library of physical game media and respect the dedicated folks actively engaged in the hunt. That being said, I'd love the ability to purchase and play more of my favorite games on modern devices. Unfortunate licensing technicalities are often the primary reason titles get trapped in the past, so it's worth celebrating the devout teams battling to refresh and preserve the history of video games. Following the recent release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, it's also just a fantastic time to be a TMNT admirer.
Digital Eclipse continues to excite our expectations with stellar re-releases like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection. Supplying updated access to classic video games is desperately welcomed in our increasingly digital future, and we need more advocates successfully honoring the heritage and cultural impact of these moments in gaming. Without online multiplayer for every title, players unfamiliar with this gargantuan era for TMNT might find the $40 price tag a bit hard to swallow. Still, for fans looking to get a nice hit of nostalgia, there's little to complain about with The Cowabunga Collection.
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Miles Dompier is a Freelance Video Producer for Windows Central, focusing on video content for Windows Central Gaming. In addition to writing or producing news, reviews, and gaming guides, Miles delivers fun, community-focused videos for the Windows Central Gaming YouTube channel. Miles also hosts Xbox Chaturdays every Saturday, which serves as the Windows Central Gaming weekly podcast.