Last week I dove into Konami’s current situation with the Castlevania franchise. Particularly how it’s in a similar position to Capcom with Mega Man, and how if Konami wanted to follow in their footsteps, that would probably be pretty sweet. But it got me thinking, what if Konami took Capcom’s cue in another regard, Specifically related to everyone’s favorite heroes in a half shell?
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were nothing short of a phenomenon back in the late 80s/early 90s. Movies, toys, you name it, there were turtles on it. Konami happened to be the lucky holders of the video game rights back in those days, and they did some really amazing stuff with it. There wasn’t a kid alive back then who didn’t play at least one Ninja Turtles game, but thanks to licensing deals ending over time, many of those games haven’t seen any sort of proper re-release in ages, if ever. The same could be said of Capcom’s legendary Disney games not too long ago, but then they figured their stuff out and released the Disney Afternoon Collection (still inexplicably not on Nintendo Switch) and new audiences were finally given the chance to not only play all-time classics like DuckTales and Rescue Rangers, but their lesser-played sequels too. This is where Konami should be looking, because if they pulled it off, they would have one of the most surefire hits on their hands.
I’m talking about a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Legacy Collection. If they wanted to be stingy, they could break it into two collections, but honestly, they should just do us a solid and put it all in one volume. Especially because there’s only really 9 titles in all the would realistically be included. (Like any of this is actually realistic)
Konami made a lot of modern TMNT games starting back in 2003, but what I’m talking about is the stuff that’s more or less based on the original comics/cartoon. Basically their Turtles output from 1989-1993. So let’s dive in and see what games could be on this totally imaginary collection!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES)
This game right here is reviled by many, but everybody over a certain age has played it at one point or another. And really, it isn’t a bad game, it’s just super difficult, and not always in a good way. Cheap deaths and stressful water levels aside, TMNT on NES has some killer music, truly bizarre enemy designs, and just enough nostalgia to make it worth going back to. If they added a rewind feature like other collections, it would be even better. This game was ported to a bunch of home computers with less than stellar results, and it would be a neat bonus to have those versions in here too, but I’m not greedy. The NES version is just fine.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Arcade)/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game (NES)
This is the one right here. This is the legendary Ninja Turtles game that everyone wanted to plunk their quarters into. It set a new standard for arcade beat em ups, and it’s still an absolute blast to play to this day. Konami and Ubisoft worked together to get this game up on the Xbox 360 several years ago, but it’s since been removed and completely unavailable to this day. But for this collection, they would absolutely have to include the NES port as well, because while it doesn’t necessarily stack up to the 4-player awesomeness of the arcade original, it’s one of the most popular NES games ever (at least here in America), it features stages that weren’t in the arcade original, and as far as I know it’s never been re-released on any platform. It’s mechanically a little different from its arcade counterpart, too, so it’s inclusion would be a definite necessity.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project (NES)
This NES-only sequel to the first arcade game is super cool, and one of the more sought-after NES carts out there. It’s still a beat em up like its predecessor, but it’s got all new stages, moves, bosses, and music. It’s a great game, and one that kind of flew under most peoples’ radar back when it came out, which is a shame because it’s chock full of classic Konami goodness.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time (Arcade)/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time (SNES)
Of all the Turtles games, this one seems to carry the most legendary status of them all. It’s simply one of the most fun beat em ups ever made, and it hasn’t been treated very well over the years. Turtles in Time came out in arcades about a year before its Super NES counterpart, but the SNES version is the one that people seem to have the most fond memories of (at least from what I’ve seen.) The arcade version is great and all, but the SNES version looked and sounded almost as good, had new bosses and stages, and was on a home console so kids didn’t have to keep asking their parents fo quarters to keep playing. Really, both versions are excellent, so both versions should be included in this collection that definitely doesn’t exist. What should NOT be included is the remake, though. For a game with this kind of legendary status, not only has the SNES version never been re-released anywhere, but the arcade game was for a time locked behind the less than excellent TMNT 3: Mutant Nightmare for PS2/Xbox/GameCube. Then the powers that be decided to make an absolutely terrible remake that was pretty universally hated. Well, Konami can go ahead and continue to forget they ever released that particular turd and just stick with the SNES and Arcade versions.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist (Genesis)
While all the Super Nintendo kids were enjoying their arguably superior arcade port of the immensely popular Turtles in Time, Sega kids were left in the lurch, as they have been with all prior Ninja Turtles games. That is, until they got their very own (and very good) sort of remix/port called The Hyperstone Heist. This game has a LOT in common with Turtles in Time, but it’s just different enough to be its own game. The plot is different, but reuses a lot of the same art assets. The stages are different, but they’re built from a lot fo the same pieces as Turtles in Time. Similarities aside, Hyperstone Heist is a great game, and well worth including in this collection, especially because like most of Konami’s Genesis games, it’s never been re-released before.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (NES/Genesis/SNES)
Because nobody could ignore the Street Fighter II craze, Konami went ahead and made not one, but three TMNT fighting games. They may all share the same name, but all three versions are totally different games. They each have different art assets, different fighters, different stages, different music, different stories, different everything. It’s kind of crazy, really. Why make three unique games instead of porting one to different platforms? They may not be the best fighting games ever made, but they’re all interesting in their own way. There’s no way to pick one definitive version, especially since they’re all so radically different, so all three should be there.
BONUS CONTENT! The three Game Boy games: Fall of the Foot Clan, Back from the Sewers, and Radical Rescue
Honestly, the Game Boy Ninja Turtles games aren’t all that great. They were fun back in the day because they were portable Ninja Turtles video games, but the nostalgia connected to these titles is out of this world, and that’s what makes them worth revisiting. Everyone played these back in the day, and everyone wished they were playing better Ninja Turtles games, but we played them anyway because they were what we had. They have some memorable classic Konami music, and they aren’t completely terrible, but that’s why they should be considered bonus content. They’re only fun in short bursts or taken as curiosities. However, most of what I just said only applies to the first 2 games. TMNT III: Radical Rescue is actually a pretty decent Turtles action platformer. It’s also by far the least played one of the three, so having it re-released in a modern collection for all to see and play would be extra cool.
I have no idea how likely this sort of collection could possibly be. Konami does seem to be at least vaguely interested in concentrating some effort into their console games again, so anything is possible. But I have to say, they should do this. The Turtles may not be the fever-pitch popular they were back when I was a kid, but they’re still an absolutely huge brand, and a game like this would appeal to both kids and adults. I don’t know who currently owns the game rights to the Turtles, but Konami should strike a deal and make this happen. I know I’d buy it in a heartbeat.