Like so many other kids, I was addicted to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade. While not quite as pervasive as the many Street Fighter II cabinets littered throughout even the smallest pizza shops and video rental stores in the area, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles still made a huge mark in my neighborhood. Was our obsession because the arcade was subjectively so much better than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles NES game? Or maybe it had something to do with the real-life model they used for April O’Neil on the cabinet artwork. Perhaps we were just ready to fall in love with any TMNT-related merchandise at the time.
Whatever the reason, my unhealthy infatuation with the game resulted in one of the few academic reprimands I ever got in elementary school. I was a fifth grader at the time, and my school (PS 163 in Brooklyn), allowed seniors to leave for lunch. My friends and I took advantage of this unique privilege as often as we could afford, usually heading out to the local pizzeria for a couple slices. I remember feeling undeniably mature on those lunch trips, walking around town with our chests puffed out and a pocket full of dollar bills. We may as well have been big city businessmen getting ready to sign a new client.
Most days we stuck to the schedule. After all, our lunch period was only about forty-five minutes long, which didn’t leave a whole lot of time for mucking about when you had to walk to and from the school, wait for your food, and eat. One day, however, I decided the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade machine appeared particularly ravenous for my last two quarters. Time slipped away like a hallucinatory fever dream, and I was battling foot soldiers in another realm. I only vaguely heard my friends warning me of the time. I was only partially aware of their departure. And by time my last quarter was gone, and the screen asked kindly if I’d like to continue, I turned to find myself utterly alone and ten minutes late for class.
I raced back to the school with my heart in my throat and an army of lies dressed as foot soldiers, karate chopping their way through my addled brain. There was no way I could walk back into class this late, so I went straight to the main office with the best excuse I could muster.
“My mom’s car broke down,” I explained with a red face and sweat-slicked brow.
The principal, Mr. Marano, of course saw right through the lie. He shook his head sadly and said, “I am very disappointed in you, Tony.” This stung, not only because of the reprimand, but because Mr. Marano had until that day jokingly called me Doctor Rapino due to my good grades.
He further explained, “I’m taking away your lunchtime privileges for the rest of the term.”
I was crestfallen. No more pizzeria lunches. No more walking around the neighborhood like an important businessman. No more midday TMNT arcade games.
Of course now that I am (arguably) an adult, I can play TMNT video games any time I want. And this has been made even easier with the upcoming release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection from Konami.
You can preorder the physical edition now (available on Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, and Xbox Series X), for its tentative release date of December 31, 2022. The disc comes with thirteen original games (plus eleven Japanese versions… *Full game list below) with online and couch co-op support for some. You’ll also get bonus features like fast forward, rewind, and save states, as well as bonus art. If you’ve ever purchased other Konami collections (Arcade Classics Collection, Castlevania Anniversary Collection, and Contra Anniversary Collection) then you’ll have a good idea of what to expect. Spoiler alert: they’re awesome.
Which TMNT game are you looking forward to playing again?