If you’re a child of the 80s, you are well aware the city life in Duckberg’s like a hurricane. What with its race cars, lasers, and aeroplanes, it is usually described to be, in a non-scientifically based term: a duck blur. It’s a place where you might solve a mystery or rewrite history. DuckTales! Woo-oo.
It’s been about 25 years since DuckTales hit the airwaves and got a subsequent tie-in game for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Even today fond memories of both are still had from rewatching episodes on the official DVDs to listening to new renditions of the game’s music. Now Capcom seeks to capitalize on those fond memories with DuckTales Remastered, giving the original game a high-definition upgrade and all the trappings that maximize nostalgia for those good ol’ days of 8-bit games and Disney Afternoon cartoons. Despite a few hiccups here and there, it’s a successful capitalization on those memories that’s worth a lot of Number One Dimes.
WayForward Technologies, the developer for DuckTales Remastered, does a fine job resurrecting the gameplay that made the original a hit. And boy, mark my words, the gameplay is classic. Taking the role of Scrooge McDuck, you are tasked with finding the lost treasure of five distinct locations: The Amazon, The Himalayas, The African Mines, Transylvania, and the Moon. In each stage Scrooge must traverse a diverse set environments and enemies, collect money and, in a new addition for Remastered, discover various key items to progress through the stage before facing off against a boss guarding the legendary treasure. Along the way Scrooge will not only interact with many of his family, friends and enemies from the television series through a multitude of cutscenes, he will also venture through brand new levels: a beginning tutorial level and a new final level.
The gameplay may not sound like anything special, but it is through the clever level design and character mechanics that the game becomes so much more. Like the original, Remastered’s levels are designed to challenge the player’s abilities to time their jumps and avoid enemies. This is bolstered by Scrooge’s peculiar style of combat through the use of his walking cane. He can swing his cane to hit rocks at his voes and also use it to pogo jump on top of them, and the latter skill is also needed to reach places that a normal jump can’t. This is a platformer that rewards precision and challenges the player to not only plan ahead, but also to know how to react quickly to any and all obstacles that come their way. It helps immensely that, like the original, play control is very tight and never feels loose or wonky. This is truly unadulterated old-school gameplay that still works.
DuckTales Remastered doesn’t do too much that’s new. This is perfectly fine since the game, like the original, is so finely-tuned that it would be silly and practically sacrilegious to tamper with gameplay that was never broken to begin with. WayForward added just the right amount of extra elements like key-item finding and unlockable concept art to pad the game out a bit more without turning it into a slog, giving the player the opportunity to take it all in. The cutscenes of DuckTales Remastered have been criticized for ruining the game’s pace, and that’s understandable if your focus is on simply playing the game. At the end of the day however, the inconvenience is negligible given how the player may skip the cutscenes as desired, and how endearing it is to see the care and effort put into making the game as authentic to the TV show as possible.
Speaking of the TV Show, WayForward actually managed to contract a couple of Disney television artists to help create the game’s layouts and backgrounds as well as get back nearly the entire voice cast from the DuckTales cartoon, sans the retired Joan Gerber (Mrs. Beakley), the late Hal Smith (Gyro Gearloose, Glomgold), and the late Hamilton Camp (Fenton/Gizmoduck) of the TV show. The end result is a visual and aural treat. The game looks gorgeous in high resolution, with 2-D character sprites and crisp 3-D backgrounds, that all have a life of their own. Scrooge and the gang have never looked better, and they show it through the many emotional tics and reactions that are littered throughout the game.
For that matter, the characters have never sounded better. As mentioned above it is hard to really condemn the cutscenes, especially with the voice acting involved. Alan Young and June Foray are 93 and 95 years old respectively, but when you hear them as Scrooge and Magica De Spell, you’ll find that they never miss a beat. This is also true others like Russi Taylor (Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Webby), Chuck McCann (Duckworth, Burger Beagle), Frank Welker (Bigtime Beagle, Baggy Beagle), and Terence McGovern (Launchpad). The new voice actors for Mrs. Beakley (voiced by Wendee “Faye Valentine” Lee), Gyro, and Fenton (Chris Edgerly and Eric Bauza respectively), also do just as well.
The wonderful aesthetics are capped off by reimagined editions of the music from the classic NES version. The redone sound effects are just as familiar and well done (especially for Scrooge’s pogo jump), and the sounds of the game combine with the nice thematic flourishes of the game’s score to work wonders for the overall experience. DuckTales sounded awesome before, and DuckTales Remastered is just the same way today.They sounded awesome before, they still sound awesome today. It is hard not to crack a smile when all those parts come together.
DuckTales Remastered is an enjoyable experience from beginning to end. While it has its own small shortcomings in terms of story execution or lack of truly new innovation, the core gameplay is still rock solid and is supported by strong visual and aural aesthetics. It is a game worth experiencing more than once to relive classic memories of both the the TV show and well-done, old school gameplay. If you’ve played DuckTales before, odds are you have either already purchased this or will and find that you enjoy it wholeheartedly. If you haven’t experienced the game before, give this a try and you’ll experience a polished gem of a game that is as good as it was back in the day. With any luck, this game will find success and that will motivate Capcom to give this kind of treatment to certain other NES games of the past. Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers Remastered, DuckTales 2 Remastered, or Darkwing Duck Remastered anyone?