About a month ago, Konami released the Cowabunga Collection. A series of previous Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle games from various platforms. I had a look, and I have a few of the games already in my collection. Especially the NES and Game Boy games. And while setting up my retro games, I wondered why the collection stopped at the Game Boy era though.
I had some fond memories of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003. A simple beat-em-up, sure. But I had good memories. I couldn’t quite remember why they were good memories. Luckily, I have a way to play it again to find out why I enjoyed it all over again.
As I said, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (which I will now call TMNT 2003) is a ‘simple’ beat-em-up. The Game Boy Advance was an underappreciated device for its time in a lot of ways, but it still had limits. Simple gameplay doesn’t mean bad though, and TMNT 2003 made sure to play to the console’s strengths.
Each turtle is actually an act in the story, inspired by the 2003 cartoon reboot. Each turtle has 4 stages, one of which includes a different vehicle level. Donatello flies on a glider, Raphael races Casey Jones and Michangelo rides a skateboard. The only level that feels out of place is Leonardo’s section driving a tank in the sewers. It makes sense for the story, and let’s face it – its Leo. Not the most fun turtle of the bunch, so it’s not like the developers had a lot to work with!
But not only are there different levels, but each turtle controls differently as well. Most of the turtles have a type of double jump, except Donatello. He uses his Bo to push himself to higher levels. Raphael has the ability to climb walls with his Sai. Things like that.
Once you finish all four turtle stories, assuming you aren’t playing on easy, you then have the final ‘Shredder’ story. Here instead of 4 acts, you play each turtle and their part in the assault of the Foot HQ. I haven’t finished this section yet, but it does take me back.
There are a couple of aspects that were cool for the time, but limited for me at the moment. There is a collectable component in the form of crystals. I can’t remember if collecting them all affects TMNT 2003. But when you complete the story you can also unlock codes. These codes are used for the GameCube Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle game. That was pretty unique for the time.
One way to pump up sales though! Maybe these will be in the Cowabunga Collection 2?