For those of you with time machines and/or TARDISes, if you go back to 1989 on any given weekday around 3pm, you would find a 9-year-old Ryan sitting in his grandma’s den, happily slurping a juice box – or grape soda, if Grandma was feeling extra-nice – eating some fruit snacks rich in high-fructose corn syrup, which couldn’t possibly be bad for you because it wasn’t sugar, and watching the Disney Afternoon.
Fast-forward 23 ½ years to Capcom & Wayforward’s release of DuckTales Remastered, and suddenly I have a hankering for grape soda and fruit snacks once again.
DuckTales Remastered shows no mercy when going at the nostalgia crowd, appealing to Disneyphiles, retro gamers, and children of the ‘90s in general, while still holding challenge and appeal for new gamers. An HD remake of the NES platformer DuckTales, which in turn was based on the Disney Afternoon cartoon of the same name, DuckTales Remastered takes the original and adds brilliant graphics and more in-depth storytelling to the much-lauded platformer of 1989.
The tale is the same: Scrooge McDuck is off on a globetrotting adventure, and with the help of his great-nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie, Launchpad McQuack, and many other characters from the cartoon, works to further cement his position as “Richest Duck in the World.” In the remastered version, however, the story is extrapolated on to form a cohesive story arc. The game starts in Duckburg, where the Beagle Boys have attempted a break-in at Scrooge’s Money Bin, which provides the setting for a brand-new tutorial level inside the Bin. Upon the way, a map with the world’s richest treasures is found, and Scrooge is off on an adventure.
Every stage is encapsulated into its own story, with different characters playing integral roles in the level. Remastered expands upon the roles the other characters played in the original. Launchpad McQuack provided some help in the form of a helicopter in The Amazon; in Remastered’s Amazon, the teamwork and camaraderie (sometimes begrudged) between Scrooge and Launchpad is a key plot point. The nephews, Webby, and even Scrooge’s butler Duckworth all appear at crucial points to help Scrooge in his quest.
To address the obvious, the graphics are glorious. Done in a 2.5D setting, the game’s visual design is like watching an episode of the cartoon. Featuring bright 2D sprites on 3D rendered side-scrolling levels, the characters have full animations for essentially everything from idleness to elation. It’s a notable addition – using Scrooge’s golf swing in the original produced a clangy sound, but in the HDmake, it produces a clangy sound with a cartoon-like vibration through Scrooge’s body with feathers ruffled off. Little details like that pay homage to the original cartoon and NES game.
All the original cast members are back, including 93 year-old Alan Young, the original voice of McDuck. Fan service is thrown about like coins in Scrooge’s money bin, and fans of the cartoon will have a great time picking out things from the series hidden in the game.
All the stuff fans loved about the game makes a return, including the tight, crisp controls and unwavering challenge factor. Capcom and Wayforward did make some improvements to the design though, including the option to do “Hard” Pogo Jumps (as in the original, pressing Down and the action button will cause Scrooge to bounce on his cane to do damage to enemies or break barriers) or “Soft” Pogo Jumps (simply pressing the action button in mid-air causes the Pogo Jump, akin to the system used in the rare NES sequel, DuckTales 2).
Possibly the best addition the team made, especially considering the game is still quite challenging – thank you, sweet baby Jesus, you can finally SAVE YOUR GAME! I don’t know about other players, but whenever I was about four levels in was invariably the time when my mom’s voice resonated through the house, calling me out for dinner or chores or school or some reason that was not finishing DuckTales. In Remastered, the game will auto-save between stages, thus sparing a new generation from the same fate and allowing them to turn off the console from time to time.
If there was one mark against the game, it’s that in their quest to expand their storyline, sometimes the cinematics get in the way, interrupting the flow of the game. I must admit, I died several times trying to get through the Amazon, and restarting the level caused me to have to sit through the cutscenes over and over again. If it were one, no big deal. But the Amazon has about ten in one level. And there’s no simple “skip” option; in order to skip, players have to go into the Pause Menu and select Skip Cinematic, which occasionally hinders momentum they have built up.
The game’s hub, set in Duckburg, includes an unlockable gallery where players can spend Scrooge’s fortune for art, music, and videos, and in the ultimate fan service, players can finally dive into Scrooge McDuck’s money bin while checking out the treasures they have acquired.
Don’t tell me you haven’t wanted to do that.
Available on PlayStation Network, Xbox LIVE, and the Nintendo Network, DuckTales Remastered is a fun romp through childhood nostalgia while still maintaining the challenge the original was famous for. Whether you’re a retro gamer or never played the original, the game pays back every Number One Dime spent on the download in satisfaction.
In short… DuckTales – WOOOO-OOO!
4.5 out of 5 stars
E for Everyone
Available on PSN, Xbox Live, Wii U Nintendo Network