We’re all about comics here at Panels on Pages, but a geek cannot live on comics alone. Outside the Longbox is our chance to spotlight something outside our typical four-color realm – be it movies, music, TV or whatever.
There’s been a surprising amount of anticipation for Capcom and Wayforward Technologies’ DuckTales Remastered since the announcement at the year’s PAX. The original DuckTales is considered by many to be one of the greatest games on the NES, right alongside the Mega Man series, another Capcom joint. The game carries with it a pretty significant legacy. How does the new version stack up nearly 25 years later?
Aesthetically, the game is absolutely gorgeous. The hand-drawn 2D sprites look absolutely spectacular. The animations are smooth and the colors are bright and vibrant. The 3D backgrounds look ironically flat by comparison, but overall, the game looks incredible. Fans of the original game or the cartoon will not be disappointed. There’s a new soundtrack, but there’s also an option to turn on the classic 8-bit version, which is a nice touch. Based on pure presentation, it’s a home run. It’s grade-a Nostalgia Fuel®.
Gameplay is basically the same as the NES version. As Scrooge McDuck, you’ll travel to five exotic locations on the hunt for treasure, collecting gems and pogo sticking enemies along the way. It’s classic 2D-style platforming. There are some new additions, too. For starters, there’s a tutorial level that takes place in the money bin before you reach the level select screen of old. There’s also a new level at the end before the final boss fight (no spoilers) instead of the game just zapping Scrooge back to Transylvania.
The biggest change is both a blessing and a curse. Most of the surviving cast of the DuckTales cartoon reprises their roles for the game, including Alan Young as Scrooge (the man is 93 years old!) and Terry McGovern as Launchpad McQuack. They’ve built a story around the game that basically explains why Scrooge is hopping around the world and why a duck can breathe on the moon (SCIENCE!). While it’s great to hear these characters again, the abundance of in-game cut scenes really break up the flow of the game play. The sprites aren’t animated for dialogue, either, so for the most part, Scrooge ends up standing still talking during these scenes while you’re left waiting for the game to resume.
Were it just at the beginning and end of the levels, it wouldn’t be a big deal, but the Amazon level is interrupted eight times by these scenes. Every time Scrooge finds one of the Aztec coins, he has a chat with Launchpad. It’s not like the coins are scattered very far a apart, either, so every couple of minutes, the game comes to a halt for one of these mostly static cinematics. It’s the one thing that takes away from the old school feel of the game. Fortunately, the game is still a lot of fun. There’s certainly more to like than not in DuckTales Remastered.
In an age when games are getting more and more complicated and elaborate, there’s something very satisfying about watching a duck kill a mummy by jumping on it with a pogo stick. Despite the inconvenience of the cutscenes, the game will speak to the late-20 to early-30 something crowd. And at the end of the day, it’s a light Disney game, so there’s plenty to love for kids, too. I give DuckTales Remastered 3.75 out of 5 blessed bagpipes. It’s available now for download on your console of choice for about $15. It’s not a bad way to burn a few hours this weekend.