Release Date: August 13th, 2013
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Wii U, Xbox 360, Steam (played on PC)
In 1989 Capcom released Ducktales for the Nintendo Entertainment System as a platformer using Megaman’s engine. Despite being a licensed title, the game was met with critical acclaim, earning spots on many “best games” lists. Now, it has been rereleased and overhauled with the release of Ducktales: Remastered.
The most immediate and major change in Ducktales: Remastered is its focus on aesthetics and narrative. The pixelation of the NES has been replaced with a style that blends together the best of the Ducktales animated series and Paper Mario. The characters now have voices, courtesy of the voice actors from the animated series, and cutscenes have been added to give the game a bit more story and reasoning, such as explaining how Scrooge can breathe on the Moon.
While a nice touch, these cutscenes tend to interrupt the pacing of the game. For instance, in the Amazon level you’ll be collecting special coins, and each triggers dialogue between Scrooge and Launchpad. These cutscenes are all skippable, but they really ruin the momentum of the game.
Due to fear that children would have a hard time with the pogo and item hitting mechanics, a tutorial level is included at the beginning of the game. It is not optional; you have to go through this every time, even if you just want to start on a different difficulty. Considering this is a remastered version of a game from the late 80s, based on a cartoon series that doesn’t air anymore, and is styled like a classic platformer, it makes me wonder why young children were considered to be the target audience and not nostalgic adults.
The gameplay is almost exactly like the original game, though there is an option to have the pogo jump easier to activate by simply pressing the pogo button, whereas in the original you would have to press the pogo button and down on the directional pad. This easier version is the default mode.
Playing through the game feels very sketchy. Several times I found the controls to be unresponsive. Sometimes Scrooge wouldn’t activate his pogo jump, and sometimes he wouldn’t grab a rope, leading to a painful landing. Both Scrooge and the enemies in the game also seemed to have strange hitboxes that sometimes extended past their sprites. Most times it felt like a gamble whether or not I would hurt an enemy or they would hurt me.
At first I thought this was just me being unaccustomed to the timing and nature of the game, but it continued to happen. I then decided to play the original NES title (which I had never played before) and found that version to have tighter controls, and was much more pleasant to play.
I really believe that Wayforward put a lot of heart and effort into this game (they wouldn’t have reassembled the cast from the animated series and done a complete graphical overhaul if they just wanted to make some money off nostalgic aged players), but once you start playing the game it just feels sloppy and, worst of all, dated.
If you’re a fan of the animated series, you’ll probably enjoy the added touches. If you’re a fan of the original game, you’ll probably enjoy that one more. If you’ve never played or heard of Ducktales, I’d say play the original, or wait for Ducktales: Remastered to go on sale.