Capcom’s DuckTales for the NES has often been regarded not only as an example of licensed material being used well, but also an all-time classic of the entire 8-bit gaming era. Thus it should perhaps come as no surprise that Lasseter/Iger-era Disney sought to update this gem for modern platforms, and in the process chose WayForward — best known for Contra 4, Double Dragon Neon, and the Shantae series — to handle this effort. The end result is that Scrooge McDuck — still voiced by Alan Young — is once more ready to search the Amazon, the Himalayas, Transylvania, the Mines of Africa, and finally even a trip to the very Moon itself (all without ever using the aid of a spacesuit, no less).
That said, before I continue on with the review, I should probably first cover the important matter of how this updated-version is going to impact those whom previously played the NES original. The first thing I can safely say is that it’s far more likely you’ll appreciate this update than the one that Castle of Illusion (our review) received from SEGA, which left quite a few gamers in a rather irate mood. Whereas the original Castle of Illusion hasn’t aged so well — as least in my opinion — Capcom’s DuckTales didn’t exactly warrant the same level of re-envisioning, meaning far more has been left intact.
At this point some of you are already chomping-at-the-bit over the notion of any of Capcom’s DuckTales being tweaked whatsoever, yet I urge our readers to not flee in rage just yet. As I previously mentioned, the levels here are — for the most part — nearly 100% intact when compared with the layout of their NES counterparts (right down to the locations of all the hidden treasure rooms). However — rather than simply reusing the Transylvania stage for a second time — the game’s finale has finally been given a proper stage all unto itself, alongside a new tutorial level with which to kick everything off.
What has been fundamentally shaken up is that each of the game’s bosses — whom originally featured rather simplistic attack patterns — have all been given additional means with which to stomp uncle Scrooge, alongside having their HP pumped up quite a bit too. Now while many — whom are willing to at accept that Keiji Inafune’s masterful sprites are no longer around — weren’t too worried by this particular change, the game’s other alteration have been far more divisively received by some fans of Capcom’s NES release. To help the game feel more like an actual episode of the original DuckTales cartoon series, fully voiced cut scenes — answering long-standing mysteries, such as how Scrooge was able to breathe on the Moon — are now provided at various points along the way.
While some people have greatly appreciated how these cut scenes have perfectly replicated the feel and logic of classic DuckTales episodes (oxy-chew, anyone?), others feel they are the taint of wretched-modern design being shat upon classic workmanship. No matter how you feel about their being included, I would like to point out that there actually is an option to disable these cut scenes fully — rather than manually skipping them each and every time they come up — within the game’s options menu. Now if you can overlook the addition of a new plot — a few extra objectives per level — alongside some seriously beefed-up boss battles, then you should be all set for some true retro-bliss.
However — assuming you haven’t yet played the original game — you’re probably here instead to find out how this whole affair works, so let’s now move on to Scrooge McDuck’s controls. On the lower-left hand side of their screen players will find a virtual d-pad, which can be used to make Scrooge walk about the screen — climb up and down handily placed ropes — and even to occasionally duck under obstacles when necessary. Meanwhile — on the screen’s other end — players will find a jump button, because you can’t really have a proper platforming adventure without the ability to freely make your hero leap about.
Next to the leap button is a context-sensitive action button, whose purpose will change based upon the situation that the wealthy Scrooge McDuck currently finds himself within. When Scrooge is leaping through the air this action button will activate his cane’s mighty pogo-mode, allowing him to bounce straight upwards — as well as obliterate any foes caught underfoot — whenever he strikes a surface. It should be stated that a large portion of DuckTales’ joy is derived from Scrooge’s amazing pogo-cane, and — although not explicitly necessary — you’ll quickly find yourself bouncing virtually all the time.
Meanwhile, pressing the action button while standing next to something will allow Scrooge to use his cane as if it were a golf club (in the process opening chests, and sending boulders flying at enemies). Although not as commonly used as the blissful pogo-attack, you will occasionally run into situations where launching a boulder at your foes will be far easier than attempting to bounce off their noggin. Finally — in an amusing touch — you’ll actually shake up all of Scrooge McDuck’s feathers if you ever attempt to cane-strike something utterly unyielding, such as a solid a wall (for instance).Anyways, beyond merely searching for the fabled-treasure hidden in each of the game’s five main locations, Scrooge can — much like the NES original — additionally hunt for every last diamond and ruby buried about. While some of these will be found in the hidden treasure chests laying scattered about, most of them will simplybe floating all around (yet initially invisible until after Scrooge has first touched them at least once). Since high score chasing in platforming adventures isn’t quite the all-consuming agenda it once was long ago, this money can now instead be used to purchase a wide variety of unlockable art gallery content (and it must be earned only, as there’s nary an IAP here).
Accompanying this rather solid game play are impeccably hand-drawn sprites, featuring lavish animation, that perfectly capture the look of the original TV series (even if their mouths never move during anyof the cut scenes). Rather than featuring the same hand-drawn splendor, the background environments are entirely composed from polygonal 3D visuals (and are often filled with references to both the TV show and the NES original). Although I know some people would havedeeply appreciated for such a feature to be present, there simply doesn’t exist any option permitting you to switch DuckTales Remastered back to Keiji Inafune’s original sprite-work.
You can — however — switch back to perfect copies of the original NES soundtrack, as composed by Hiroshige Tonomura, whenever you so please by going to the game’s options menu. However, I would say the new orchestral updates do a wonderful job of capturing the feeling and mood of each song (all while managing to simultaneously add a new twist to each and every one of them). In this regard you’re basically covered no matter how you want DuckTales Remastered to sound, with the best of legacy and modern game composition techniques both being readily available.
Furthermore, the Moon theme — which has been the subject of numerous fan-made covers, including one by Brental Floss himself — is still one of the most amazing songs in gaming history.
Finally — just as I mentioned near the beginning of this review — the game furthermore features a full reprisal of the original show’s cast, or at least it does for everyone currently still alive (with everyone else being handled by convincing sound-alikes). Despite the fact he was a whopping 94 years old when they brought him in, Alan Young still deftly nailed his part as Scrooge McDuck — perfectly capturing every moment of anger, joy, and disgust — much the same as when the late 1980’s TV series was still going. Fans of the TV series should probably cherish this moment, as — although Alan Young isn’t dead yet — this is probably the last time we’ll ever hear the actor whom once voiced a horse named Ed (seeing as how he won’t be Scrooge in the upcoming DuckTales reboot).
In the end this all makes for a tightly-controlling game that is still a remarkable example of why people loved platforming games back during the 8-bit era, that furthermore is filled to the brim with cut scenes guaranteed to please fans of the original TV series. Although DuckTales Remastered (out now, $9.99) comes with a somewhat steep upfront price — at least when compared to other iOS releases — I ask people to remember that this is a full PC/Console port, that is furthermore being offered with absolutely no IAPs at all. If — however — you’re still rabidly-frothing at the mere thought of the various improvements I’ve mentioned throughout this review, then — despite just how good I think WayForward’s update truly is — you just might want to skip this one.
With a blend of tight-controls, extra stages, enhanced bosses, and even new cut scenes featuring Alan Young (the original voice actor of Scrooge McDuck during the TV series), WayForward has produced a truly top-notch update. That said — while these cut scenes amusingly answer many questions people have long had about the original — certain fans won’t be much amused with this update to their beloved Capcom produced 8-bit classic, but they probably already know who they are. For everyone else — whether they’ve already played the original, or perhaps just looking to experience something retro-new — I highly suspect you won’t be disappointed with WayForward’s quite polished update, even if it might have a somewhat steep price tag.