TMNT: The Cowabunga Collection Games Ranked | What to play first

The turtle boys are at it again, and they’re still doing nothing for anyone. That’s right, so soon after their last amazing adventure inspired the Turtle Fever revival, these four guys are giving us even more. Shredder’s Revenge impressed TMNT and beat fans everywhere, so it makes sense that newer players as well as old shellheads will be looking for more big green machine action, and the best way to do that is by reaching back to the past. This is where Konami is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection comes in.

Being able to play these classics from the 8- and 16-bit era again is already great, and they’ve also added a ton of updates and bonuses to make the games more fun. Some of the titles even offer online co-op now, which should keep things interesting. For those who may not be familiar with the 13 games that come in this collection – don’t worry, some of them are simply ports of other titles – here’s a little description of each and the order I think you should play them i, least to greatest.

9.) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Back From The Sewers (Game Boy)

The middle child on the Game Boy is unfortunately the one that should be forgotten. Back from the sewers isn’t a bad game per se, but its biggest sin is having less responsive controls, which takes away a lot of the fun. The title is only difficult in the last few levels, where if players don’t experiment and figure out how to exploit the bosses, it can take some time. Once their secrets are discovered, everyone is a pushover. What the game does do well is improve the graphics, showing large sprites and more detail than some probably thought could be done on the handheld system. However, this may be where they tried to expand too much, as parts containing the 2.5D environments simply made movement more cumbersome and left hitboxes feeling wrong. This post also tried to take some cues from others TMNT games of the time, but these ideas were not implemented well. Of every game in this collection, this has a chance to be the one that players spend the least amount of time on.

8.) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of The Foot Clan (Game Boy)

Fall of the Foot Clan was the first TMNT adventure on Nintendo’s impressive little handheld, featuring an action-packed game featuring the four heroes that could be played on the go. That It wasn’t just a quick title, but a simple and entertaining ordeal for any true ninja who wants to slash and slash their way to victory. When it was on the Game Boy, it didn’t look that impressive and was quite short – consisting of only five levels – but the areas feel unique and still try to fill out the 2D environments whenever possible. It feels like the developers were focused on making something that was fun to play by keeping the controls light but fluid. Fall of the Foot Clan is fairly easy and should only cause frustration in a few small encounters, but the replay value is definitely there.

7.) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (NES/SNES/Genesis)

TMNT is such a huge franchise that it’s no surprise that they would eventually expand outside of their normal genres. With the series’ action-focused premise, a fighting game makes sense. There are three versions of Tournament fighters, each different enough to make them worth noting. The NES even got its own port of the game. It pales in comparison to the other two visually, but it’s impressive what the developers were able to do with a two-button fighter on the 8-bit console. The Genesis version had similar controls but better graphics and a different roster, but it wasn’t quite as engaging once the fight started. Overall SNES Tournament fighters is probably the best version to play, with the sharpest presentation and grouping of characters to fight with, but this is a fighter that’s hard to really love. The computer shows no mercy and punishes mistakes, so it’s easy to get frustrated and put this one down. While not a standout example of the genre, it’s worth a try.

6.) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Radical Rescue (Game Boy)

The third title on the Game Boy did something most didn’t expect from the property or the system: expanding the standard Turtles excursion and turn it into what is colloquially called a Metroidvania. Now there’s a full map of hazards and secrets to explore. The player starts as Michelangelo and must rescue his three brothers, each with their own unique traversal abilities, meaning that new areas can be accessed by specific characters. Players will spend a lot of time going back and staring at the game card, but Radical rescue, thankfully, makes good use of a password system to keep it from being too frustrating. That said, the bosses can be quite difficult, but at least it’s a fresh set of villains – including fan-favorite Dirtbag. It’s an interesting and ambitious game and a solid adventure that offers a break from beat ’em ups. It’s definitely worth coming back to sometime.

5.) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES)

For many, this will be the most infamous game in the collection and certainly the one that will benefit the most from a rewind feature and save states. It was the first mainstream console entry for the Turtles and was highly anticipated until people realized how far it was from the popular cartoon. This NES game was also incredibly difficult and had overworld sections where players could simply be run over, but at least it featured the Turtle Van. It was bold, ambitious, and there’s a good chance it probably started out as something completely different and was re-skinned into TMNT property considering the random enemies and gameplay. There’s no co-op here and a ton of brutality – although players know some of the tricks. Combine that with the bad reputation the game has gotten over the years and most players won’t give this much time, but there is upside for those who want a unique experience and challenge.

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

Shredder is up to his old tricks again, but he’s upgraded from stealing the Statue of Liberty to taking all of Manhattan. The Manhattan Project is an original game packed with a lot of entertainment on the NES. This post takes a good bit of inspiration from arcade games, cartoons and action figures, creating a great mix of TMNT action in a beat ’em-up that many people skipped the first time. The developers tweaked the controls and improved combat to try and make it more engaging for players, while giving us a solid visual presentation – minus the usual limitations of sprite flicker – and some interesting stages. The music is decent and players can switch Turtles between scenes. Fighting is generally fun, but the bosses can be annoying even when they try to be strategic, but hey, at least they included Groundchuck in this one. Like him The Manhattan Project is easy to understand TMNT discussions, but it’s a fun and solid beat ’em up.

3.) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist (Genesis)

Most of these games have come from Nintendo consoles, but the Sega Genesis also needed some Turtle Power. Hyperstone Heist is sometimes considered an altered port or a re-skinned version of Turtles in time, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from trying it. Not only does the game come with an original scene that isn’t in the other title or is simply recycled, but it also features Shredder’s trusted commander Tatsu as the boss. The game had the foresight to give driving its own dedicated button, which is useful for people who couldn’t master double tapping. The music isn’t bad at all, and the visuals do a few interesting things, like letting the player change the art design of the turtles to be different shades of green. still, Hyperstone Heist has a few frustrating quirks and comes complete with a boss rush near the end where many people stop playing. It shouldn’t be a surprise that those who grew up with the Genesis and this game might hold it in higher regard, but we stand by its place on the list.

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

This one is TOO popular TMNT game – the grandfathered arcade title that swallowed up so many neighborhoods. It was a real hit and probably part of the reason we received so many other titles featuring the characters in the years that followed. The arcade version of this was the experience that showed us how fun co-op brawler experiences could be, even when they had basic control schemes. The home console port on it on the NES was given a number 2 so parents wouldn’t get confused, plus it came with a Pizza Hut coupon – sick! It also added extra levels as well as boss fights with the newly introduced Tora and Shogun. The NES couldn’t handle as many sprites on screen and wasn’t nearly as impressive visually, but that didn’t stop this game from selling out in stores. Both versions are worth checking out. They’re simple, fun and equally challenging, but it might come down to nostalgia on this one. For players who have never tried either, let the visual spectacle of the arcade win and then head to the NES for more Turtles action.

1.) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time (SNES/Arcade)

This is the one. If someone can’t have at least a little fun with it Turtles in timethereafter Cowabunga collection is not for them. This is the game that so many first think of when they talk about this era TMNT game, and it’s just a great example of a great beat ’em up using an established IP. The arcade version is super smooth and the game has excellent music. There are some fantastic landscapes that make solid use of the time travel element, while the animations are colorful and detailed. That said, I have to give a slight edge to the SNES version. This was one of the best arcade-to-console ports at the time. It has everything previously mentioned just downgraded a bit for consoles. As with many other conversions, they added more content, replaced a boring boss to give us Slash, and the memorable encounter of throwing foot soldiers at the screen to hit Shredder. For many players, the SNES version simply has better controls and the combat feels more fluid. Again, both are good, but the SNES Turtles in time probably going to get the most out of everything.

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