Let’s step back in time for just a moment to a simpler time; a time where cartoons would be waiting for you on the television as soon as you got home from school… a time where these same shows actually had theme songs you wanted to sing along to… a time where licensed games were the cream of the crop… a time where an elderly duck could wear spats on the surface of the Moon and no one would care. This, my friends, is an era that Capcom and WayForward hope to return to with the recent downloadble release and upcoming physical release of DuckTales: Remastered.
DuckTales: Remastered is a remake of the classic 1989 NES DuckTales originally developed by Capcom. The game garnered quite the following with its distinctly Capcom side-scrolling gameplay and a rocking classic soundtrack. Gameplay centered around rich philanthropist Scrooge McDuck, armed with an incredibly useful pogo-stick cane used for hopping on enemies, as he traveled across the globe collecting riches from scenic hotspots, ranging from the Amazon, to the Himalayas, and even to the Moon. The gameplay was fun, tight, and most importantly, challenging. A retro classic. From the start, I feel confident in saying that all of this has been almost perfectly retained with Remastered.
So what has developer WayForward brought to the table with an update of the classic title for a modern era? Quite a bit, it turns out, but almost all of it is purely aesthetically. The “remastered” part of the game comes in the visuals and sounds of the game itself. Each of the sprites have been lovingly animated by hand, giving a visual style that matches up with the original cartoon. Neat little touches such as Scrooge reverberating from hitting a solid object with his cane or shivering in snowy areas help give it a distinct sense of character.
These same sprites go along wonderfully with the 3D backgrounds designed by actual Disney background artists. This is a game that cries out to be played on a large HDTV with its intricate details and crisp colors that especially pop out on each stage. For what there is on display here, it’s basically like playing a brand new episode of DuckTales.
Which speaking of, there is another new addition to the game in the form of cutscenes and a general overarching story. Each of the seven levels (five classic levels, and two new levels made for the remake) essentially act as a mini-episode of a DuckTales show. Don’t expect too much depth here, though. It retains a level of writing expected for a rather young audience (expect plenty of cheesy jokes and kids acting oh-so-adorable), but the cutscenes are still a joy to watch simply for the fact that WayForward went the extra mile and actually got many of the original voice actors to reprise their roles for these cutscenes. 93-year-old Alan Young absolutely steals the show reprising his iconic performance as Scrooge McDuck. Even when I found the story dragging on for some spots, I still found myself enamored just to hear Scrooge’s soothing Scottish accent one more time.
All the same, there are a lot of cutscenes throughout the entirety of the game, and they more often than not interrupt the flow of the speedy gameplay, occurring every time you pick up a key item or enter new areas. They can be skipped, but the ability to skip with one button press instead of having to pause and skip would’ve greatly helped to remedy the overall flow of the game.
The gameplay, for the large part, remains mostly unchanged. This plays and feels just like the exact same DuckTales game you played 20 years ago on your Nintendo. If you haven’t played the game in years, or you still play it today as a favorite, this shouldn’t surprise you in the least. For those new to the game, however, it may come off feeling a bit stiff and unresponsive at times.
There are many times Scrooge might miss hitting an enemy or fail to have his pogo-cane activate in mid-air leading to many abrupt deaths. The game is certainly fun and rewarding, but it is also very unforgiving. Fortunately, there is an easy mode that gives players infinite lives, and if you don’t define yourself as a “retro gamer,” I would highly suggest starting there.
WayForward has also added two all-new stages, an opening tutorial and a final ending stage. They do a fantastic job of recreating the stage design of the original game, but the final stage is filled with way more one-hit deaths than the original game has. This difficulty spike could be seen as a welcome challenge by many, but I could easily sympathize with any thrown controllers on this final stage.
WayForward has a unique eye and penchant for quality in all their games, and it shows that they were the right choice to carry this duck-torch for a new generation of players. It is a truly beautiful game, faithful in all the right ways while offering something new where it helps to deepen the experience. This includes the phenomenal newly remixed soundtrack by WayForward mainstay, Jake “virt” Kaufman. Remixing the famous Moon theme was a lofty challenge, but Kaufman proves himself as being the right man for the job by knocking it out of the park. If you grew up playing and loving DuckTales when it originally came out, then DuckTales: Remastered is an absolute must buy for any fan. It’s a bit harder to suggest to new gamers since the gameplay and difficulty hasn’t been tweaked too much for modern sensibilities, but there is a real treasure hidden here if you’re willing to dig a bit for it.
Oh– plus you can swim around in Scrooge’s money vault. So obviously, game of the year right there.
[+Perfect port][+Beautiful graphics][+Great remixed soundtrack][+MONEY BIN][+Easy mode for beginners][-Too many interrupting cutscenes][-Controls are sometimes a bit stiff]