Ranking the Top Ten Games on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cowabunga Collection

In the most recent Sony State of Play it was announced by Konami, Nickelodeon and Digital Eclipse that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection is coming to the Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and Steam platforms sometime in 2022. Much to the joy of 30 and 40 year old men and women everywhere.

The collection features a massive collection of 13 games from the arcades, NES, SNES, Sega Genesis and Game Boy eras. They include:

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Arcade)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time (Arcade) 
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Arcade Game (NES)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: The Manhattan Project (NES)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (NES)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4: Turtles in Time (Super NES)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (Super NES)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist (Sega Genesis)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (Sega Genesis)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of The Foot Clan (Game Boy)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Back From The Sewers (Game Boy)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Radical Rescue (Game Boy)

Where to begin? Well, let’s break down the ten best games in this collection, in ranking order starting with…

10. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES)

Ok listen, this is by far one of the least popular titles in the franchise because of its crushing difficulty (especially when you get to the swimming section), however it was one of the most uniquely designed. In this single player title you can select any turtle to use on the fly, there’s an overworld to explore, and special weapons to pick up. If one of your turtles loses all of their life, they get captured and can be rescued if you can make it past Stage 3. Once all four turtles are captured, it’s game over. You’re on a quest to save April O’Neal, disarm some bombs, and eventually save Splinter and get to the Technodrome to defeat Shredder. It’s clunky and awkward control scheme doesn’t hold up to the rest of the games on this list, but it’s worth playing through, you know, just to experience it.

Source: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES)

9. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Back From the Sewers (Game Boy)

An easy to pick up side scrolling adventure on the Game Boy, Back From The Sewers featured a similar side scrolling mechanic like the NES version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, with one section being free-roaming like other titles in the series. Shredder and Krang of course want to dominate the world, and kidnap April O’Neal again cause that helps, I guess. It’s up to the turtles to save her and the world. Most every enemy, besides the bosses, are single hit kills, and you can jump kick and ride skateboards. The turtles could also get captured, and if all four are imprisoned, it’s game over. I couldn’t get over the character and enemy designs, so out of all of the three titles in the Game Boy series, it was my least favorite. It did feature voiced lines, which was one of the first Game Boy games to do so!

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

This game is by far one of the easier titles in this collection. April gets kidnapped again (aww jeez) and the turtles must save her. Once again, if all four turtles lose their life and get captured, it’s game over. The background design is minimal at best and not very detailed, however compared to Back From the Sewers I found the character design more visually appealing. Enemy AI jump at you constantly and require one hit kill strikes, unless it’s a boss battle. Depending on how well you perform in each level, you can play through a bonus stage inside each level to increase your health with pizza pick ups. A relatively short game that you can knock out in an hour, if that.

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

Arguably the best title on the Game Boy, Radical Rescue is one of the most unique games out of the series. Michaelangelo goes to grab pizza, and during that trip the other three turtles and Splinter go to rescue April again. They all get captured now, and it’s up to Mikey to save the day. The game is reminiscent of Metroid where certain areas couldn’t be accessed without special abilities. As you rescue each turtle, you get access to them and their special abilities, like Raphael being able to access tight spaces by huddling into his shell, Donatello climbing walls, and so on. The music is some of the best on the Game Boy, and featured faster paced combat and platforming compared to its predecessors.

Source: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Radical Rescue (Game Boy)

6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (SNES)

A tournament of some of the best fighters in the world has been created, and the turtles have been invited by Karai, the new leader of the Foot Clan, who wants to avenge Shredder. Tournament Fighters for the SNES is a 1v1 fighting game that features a story mode putting you in control of one of the turtles as they try to rescue April and Splinter (this is getting old), all the while fighting other-worldly demons that have crashed the tournament, like Armaggon (a mutant shark) and War, to name a few. Besides the story mode, there are versus and arcade modes to play through where you can use all characters, and even a “watch mode” where you can just watch computer controlled fights. It was a solid entry that truly utilized the many buttons the SNES controller had, and also tied in many comic book characters, and new characters as well.

5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: The Manhattan Project (NES)

In this title, April gets sick of getting kidnapped and goes on a rampage against Shredder. No, I’m joking, she gets kidnapped again, and Shredder goads the turtles into trying to save her, and Manhattan (which is now an island) while they’re on vacation in Key West. This side scrolling adventure featured two player co op, and special abilities tied to each turtle that, when used, whittle down your life. You could also toss enemies on the fly using button combinations. Not only did this game feature villain mainstays like Bebop and Rocksteady, but also Tokka and Rahzar make an appearance. A unique beat ’em up, Manhattan Project was a great arcade-like game for turtle fans who owned the NES.

4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (Sega Genesis)

This iteration of Tournament Fighters is similar to the SNES version in that it is a 1v1 fighting game, however it boasts a different story and gameplay elements. The turtles have been challenged by Karai, the new leader of the Foot Clan, who captures Splinter and has the turtles travel to Dimension X to rescue him. They need help, and they call on their friends Casey Jones, Ray Fillet (a bi-pedal manta-ray), Sisyphus (a mutant scarab) and yes, April O’Neal is ready to hand the beat down. Once they arrive in Dimension X they have to travel to various planets and defeat clones of themselves, and get to Triceraton, Krang, and of course Karai. Not only did this have the best soundtrack compared to all the other Tournament Fighter titles, it also had a two player co-op mode, a practice mode, and you could also actively taunt your opponents and dish our a “killer” attack that decimates your opponent if you’re down to a slim amount of health.

Source: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (Sega Genesis)

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

Shredder gets his hands on the hyperstone, and shrinks Manhattan as April O’Neal is making a live broadcast. Surprisingly she doesn’t get kidnapped this time. The turtles spring into action to stop Shredder from using the hyperstone to take over the world. The game is similar in play style to Turtles in Time, however it has fewer levels and is easier than its counterpart. Hyperstone Heists gameplay is fast paced and action packed, with a dedicated dash button, more aggressive enemies and a darker comic book-like color palate. Even the animation is top notch for the platform. You can play this two player co-op and have a blast. It’s arguably one of the best TMNT titles ever made, as well as one of the best games on the Sega Genesis period.

2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Arcade)

This was the title that started it all. The side scrolling beat ’em up platform genre really owes it all to this title. Storming arcades in 1989, the arcade game has you picking one of four turtles in your quest to save April and Splinter. You combat various types of Foot Soldier enemies with different powers, skills, and weapons, as well as villains like Baxter, Bebop and Rocksteady, General Trag, as well as Shredder and Krang. This version was also 4-player co-op, which made the gameplay that much more fun and action-packed. It had some of the most memorable gameplay elements and scenes that even to this day games continue to emulate. It even spawned a modern arcade cabinet from Arcade 1Up. This is a must play with friends.

Source: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Arcade)

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

There isn’t much difference in the SNES and arcade versions of this game, besides the SNES having one or two extra bonus gameplay sections and less animations and music tracks. Turtles in Time featured some of the most diverse levels and enemy designs in the entire franchise. Krang takes the Statue of Liberty, and while the turtles pursue Krang and Shredder, they get sent into a time warp and transported back to the prehistoric era, and fight their way back home by jumping forward in time (and even into the future). Each level was uniquely designed, with different enemies and challenges. It even had some punishing finishing moves like slamming your enemies into the ground multiple times, and launching them toward the screen. The levels were short, but plentiful, and action packed, especially with three other friends at your side. The SNES version was two player only. The best title in the franchise, hands down.

What did you think of the list? Do you have your own list you’d like to share with us? Sound off in the comments, or head over to our Discord group using the QR code below and tell us what you’re going to be playing first when Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Cowabunga Collection drops.

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