It feels like the time since DuckTales was originally available for the NES has gone by like a duck blur. Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself. So different from today, Disney games were some of the best games for the NES. DuckTales, DuckTales 2, Darkwing Duck, Mickey Mousecapade, and Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers were high quality games created by Capcom and each one was fun, challenging, and actually worked—which was a step ahead of the myriad of broken titles in the NES library. Wayforward Technologies, in a brilliant move, decided to remaster the Megaman-engine-based DuckTales, a platformer for NES starring Scrooge McDuck. They dubbed this Disney trip back to the 90s DuckTales Remastered, a game that oozes nostalgia for both the original game and the too-long-gone DuckTales television show.
Wayforward wasn’t looking to rewrite history, so DuckTales Remastered plays as the original, but polished. Scrooge McDuck must use his ultimate weapon to quell his foes: no, not his wealth, nor unwavering gumption, nor stinginess, but his cane. To new players, this must sound strange, but this weapon is not to be taken lightly. The primary use of this cane is to bounce around the levels, stomping on enemies as needed, pogo-style. As long as there are no pitfalls or lava pits, Scrooge can also use his bouncing ability to traverse spikes and other d-d-d-dangers. Each level is distinct and set in a remote part of the planet and/or the Moon (where no duck has gone before). After achieving the various goals of each level, Scrooge fights a boss. Each boss has been revisited, making them more challenging than their NES counterparts, but some simple pattern recognition will get the player through without much trouble. There are treasures “hidden” throughout each level and it is important to pogo everywhere in order find that sweet, sweet cash, but it is perhaps a little too easy to find invisible walls and concealed passages. The reward for each boss battle is, of course, a valuable treasure which will add to Scrooge’s bank/pool full of money; Scrooge was motivated by cash in way before Wario’s tales of daring do-bad.
The most apparent change from the original is the introduction of fully-voiced cutscenes and an animation overhaul. The animations and backgrounds are Disney animation in every way: crisp, bright, and masterfully done. It makes this fully-grown man miss the days when the Disney channel had high-quality cartoon programming instead of teenagers in bands, teenagers in hotels, or teenagers with split-personality/identity disorders (oh, Hannah Montana, how far you’ve come). These story elements add more breadth to the original story, which was somewhat indiscernible on NES. Scrooge and the gang discover a piece of paper that details the locations of five treasures that value in the millions. Naturally, Scrooge, Huey, Dewey, Louie, and a plethora of other DuckTales regulars decide to search for these treasures all in pursuit of adventure… I mean, money. They even brought back Alan Young, the original and ninety-three year old voice of Scrooge to reprise his role. Rather than sounding tired or off, Young nails Scrooge perfectly, and his contribution is the most notable part of this experience. Much of the original cast was also involved to bring more of the show into the game. The remixed score of the game is deserving of note, especially DuckTales’ most notable stage theme, the Moon. Save the Moon for the end of your adventure, you’ll be glad you waited.
While each cutscene is charming in its own way, there are a lot of them and sometimes they are drawn-out or disrupting. For example, in the Amazon, Scrooge will pause each time he picks up a quest item and speak while paused and, sometimes, the gameplay between cutscenes was shorter than the cutscene was. The voice acting is spot-on with each character, but the animation for those cutscenes is static and characters don’t move their mouths while speaking. It just seems like they forgot to put icing on the cake. This deserves a little forgiveness though since each scene is skip-able in the pause menu, making replays easier. Another complaint about the inclusion of voice acting is that Scrooge will often pull of one-liners that are great but repeat in each level, sometimes awkwardly so. The dialogue can be funny at times and irritating at other times since it seems that everyone besides Scrooge in this universe is a borderline moron, and he isn’t afraid to make note of it.
The game shows such a dedication by the creators and voice actors to both the original game and the original source material. Fans of the show just need to play the game, if only once and as a passing fancy. Unfortunately, while it is easy to enjoy the ride, now with two additional levels and extra hearts to find, the game isn’t difficult enough to encourage replay, nor the levels diverse or full enough to make you come back a third or maybe even a second time. The collectables, though neat, are nothing more than neat, and can only be acquired with grind-earned cash. But, all that said, DuckTales Remastered is true to the original with some added bells, whistles, lasers, and aeroplanes. It may not be perfect, but it is a gem in any too-old-to-be-a-kid’s digital library.
Vinny Orsillo | @VinnyOhGames