The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was such a staple of my childhood growing up. The action figures. The T-shirt’s. Cereal bowls. Wallpaper. And of course the games. They were all permanent fixtures in the home, much to my mother’s chagrin. When I wasn’t fending off the foot clan, preventing Bebop and Rocksteady from invading my sewer lair play-set, with the assistance of the turtle blimp and van. Which as it turned out was always a ploy, orchestrated by Shredder to distract the Turtles. Allowing Shredder unrestricted access to our hideout, as well as our mentor Splinter. I had a very active imagination as a child. We all imagined scenarios in which we’d overcome their villainous, often elaborate schemes, with gaming being just another extension of that. So it’s rather auspicious timing that a series so prevalent in my formative years, has been renovated at a time when – having just celebrated my 35th birthday – I couldn’t feel older. TMNT’s is a celebrated representative in the now redundant side scrolling beat-em-up genre, finally returned in two separate titles.
“Shredders Revenge”, a new TMNT’s game inspired by those childhood defining beat-em-ups was announced last year. With a tentative 2022 release. Now Konami, the Josef Fritzl of franchise gate-keeping, have decided to double down on that Turtle’s nostalgia with the “Cowabunga Collection”. A selection of classic, “I member!” titles that return to those long lost, halcyon day’s of adolescence. Featuring 13 classic games from 5 divergent devices, including the Arcade. Notable additions include all 3 variants of “Tournament Fighters”. “TMNT’s: Fall Of The Footclan”, a game that’s level design was so ingrained in my memory, that not only could I negotiate each stage with such confidence, that I’d barely sustain any damage. But that the final confrontation with Krang was so predictable, I could intentionally lose as Leonardo, Raphael and Michelangelo, just so Donatello would be the one to save the day. And “TMNT’s 2: The Arcade Game” for the NES. A game so inherently linked to my infancy, that it’s difficult to remember a time before it. It also represents a rare moment of civility between my father and myself, to become an anarchic fighting team. Predisposed to foiling the ludicrous villainy of Shredder, footclan and the veritable menagerie of mutated consorts. Hopefully an experience I can replicate with my own daughter. Playing the game I mean, not me becoming a lying, adulterous fuck nugget.
With both “Shredders Revenge” and the “Cowabunga Collection” slated for a provisional release this year, 2022 could be a triumph return for a series that never should have left.