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TMNT: The Cowabunga Collection: 5 hidden gems you should play

Five Ninja Turtles games to try when you’re done with the arcade beat-’em-ups

Image: Digital Eclipse/Konami

Konami and Digital Eclipse are serving up a tasty pizza pie of a retro collection with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection, out now on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. Featuring a pizza baker’s dozen titles from three consoles, one handheld, and a few arcade originals — plus the Japanese versions where applicable and oodles of concept art — it’s a retro feast.

Since the collection has so many titles to choose from, we’re going to look at which pizza toppings in the rough are worth checking out. Beyond the beloved arcade beat-’em-up classics, here are five games included in the Cowabunga Collection that are worth checking out.

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

The Sega Genesis gets a bad rap for its more limited color palette and crunchier sound chip compared to the SNES, but its faster processor often excelled at speedy arcade action (thanks Blast Processing!). Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist remixes levels and enemies from both acclaimed beat-’em-up arcade games with a few original touches into its own unique experience.

The Hyperstone Heist is also the only TMNT video game to feature Tatsu, Shredder’s bald henchman played by Toshishiro Obata from the original Ninja Turtles live-action movies, as a boss.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Back From The Sewers (Game Boy)

Much like its predecessor, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Back From The Sewers is a side-scrolling beat-em-up along the lines of Bad Dudes. You move your turtle from left to right beating up Foot Soldiers until you reach a boss at the end of each stage.

Back From The Sewers ups the ante of the original with larger, more distinct graphics. In fact, the sprites are so large it can make it hard to dodge projects like Krang’s missiles or flying ninja stars. Not a long game by any stretch, this is fun as a quick diversion with great graphics for the system.

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

The follow-up to a best-selling port of the famous arcade game, a beat-’em-up not unlike Final Fight, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: The Manhattan Project takes the heroes in a half shell from the beach to Krang’s Spaceship.

A late release for the NES, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: The Manhattan Project is a graphical marvel with a punchy soundtrack. Slowdown does occur when too many enemies appear on the screen, but it’s worth it to play through this overlooked classic.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: The Radical Rescue (Game Boy)

Far better than it has any right to be, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 has gamers start as Michelangelo on a valiant quest to rescue his terrapin brethren from a large fortress. An early example of the Metroidvania genre, players explore from room to room, gaining abilities, fighting bosses, and eventually getting to play as the other ninja turtles.

Despite the game forcing players to be Michelangelo right off the bat, the game’s groovy cover art features a pissy Leonardo full of ’90s rage like a mutant rat in a cage. There’s an impressive scope at play with a high level of challenge. It’s not just the rescue that’s radical here.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (NES)

Fighting games caused an arcade revival in the mid- to late ’90s with the one-two punch of Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat. While 16-bit systems were stuffed with fighting games, the aging NES barely got any.

One of the last games released for the system, the NES version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters is a novel take on a well-worn genre. For reasons, the turtles fight without weapons and have different colors to make it easier to tell the difference of who is playing who in each match.

Aside from each character having a special move (frustratingly, the Story Mode is only turtle centric, although you can play as more characters in the multiplayer modes), a random fireball drops onto the playing field. Sort of like a proto Poké Ball, when players pick it up they can do a special move. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters is better than you might expect on NES.

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