Ducktales Remastered: A Review
There are things from my childhood that I remember with crystal clarity. But coming home and watching this show is at the top of that list.
Ah, Ducktales. Seriously, I still know the theme song by heart. There were other Disney afternoon cartoons that still have a soft spot in my heart (Chip and Dales Rescue Rangers, Talespin, Gummi Bears...it's a long list and I watched a lot of tv as a kid), but Ducktales was and still is my favorite.
But as I got older and I got myself a NES system, I ended up getting the NES Ducktales game because...well, it's pretty well liked. And I enjoyed playing it immensely. And when I heard they were going to remake the Ducktales game, I got super excited. Because...well, do I need to play the theme song again? It's like my childhood distilled into a song.
I got a hold of the game and I have to say, it's a very solid release. They did an excellent job transitioning the game play from the original version to the modern release, and in fact used a lot of the level design from the original. The game is a 2-D side-scrolling platformer and it is out for the PC via Steam, Nintendo eShop and the Playstation Network. It will soon be available next month for Xbox Live Arcade.
This game was quite obviously a labor of love. The attention to detail that they put into making this game is obvious from the moment that the title screen appears and the theme song kicks in. The fact that they got the remaining cast members to do the voice work alone helps this game feel almost like you are playing an episode from the show.
The controls are tight and responsive, with little slide or lag. The hit box detection is excellent as well, and in a platformer, there are few things that will destroy the game faster then those two items. As I mentioned above, they kept a lot of the same elements from the original game, however they did add to the plot. And by add to the plot, I mean they created a plot from pretty much absolutely nothing. The original had you pretty much just treasure hunting around the world and on the moon. The new game adds little cutscenes at the start and end of each level, as well as sometimes in the middle of the levels as well.
The boss fights have all been improved as well. While the levels still have the same bosses, they added some new attacks and also tactics for each one. This helps the game a lot, since in the original game the boss fights were kind of the weakest part of the game. They also added some interactivity at the computer scene between levels where you can check out the unlockable content and spend the money you've acquired throughout the game. You can also take a dive into Scrooge's money bin...which let's be honest, is way more fun than it should be.
They did make a significant change to the last level, where instead of just repeating the Transylvania level like in the original, they instead have you go to Mount Vesuvius. Though aside from the change of the location, it still plays out like the original. You fight Dracula Duck then race with Magica de Spell and Glomgold for the end.
The music is well done as well, sounding almost exactly like the original tracks for most levels. The voice work on the game is amazing, especially since they got many of the original actors, including Alan Young as Scrooge. The graphics are beautiful in this game, and the hand drawn look compliments the game nicely. Everything looks, sounds and feels just like the original show, and if you are making a game about a show that really is all you can try to do.
This is going to be an incredibly short list. There isn't a whole lot I can fault this game for, but it isn't quite perfect. Frankly, some of the level design was frustrating, and any level that had the mine cart sections typically got a few lives from me.
I did find that a lot of the levels required me to play through and die a couple times to figure out the patterns, then once I had I could go through without dying once. Most of the enemy respawns were a bit annoying, especially some of the ghosts in various levels.
Also, while in this version you could get a much larger health bar, you only got extra lives if you found Mrs. Beakley on each level. Which meant that you ended up losing most of the extra lives and just having to play through the last level with just the default two you get after a game over. And since you can't revisit levels until you beat the game once, you can't really store up extra lives to try to defeat the last level.
Speaking of the last level, I would like to propose a new rule for video games that remake older games. If you are going to have a difficult last boss fight, then have an extra playable bit after that boss where you can still die, you should be required to put in a checkpoint there if you get a game over. You essentially have to master the last level up to the boss, beat the boss without dying once, then you get to figure out the last little race against Magica and Glomgold. And if you do make it to them without dying, you only get three tries at it before you get a game over and have to start over. And since there are several points in the last level where you can easily die by miss-timing a jump or pogo jump, it's more likely you'll get one or two attempts.
Also, a lot of the last boss fights, while still more difficult and involved then the original game, still were pretty easy once you figured out the patterns. Most of them only required me to die once, and that was only the first one where I only had three hearts still.
That being said, that is about all the griping I have for the game. Everything about it I enjoyed immensely. It was just difficult enough that it kept me engaged, but not so frustratingly so that I stopped playing entirely. They walked a fine line and I have to give the game 9 lucky dimes out of 10.
Now, while we are on the topic of remastering old Disney video games...