Back in the 8 and 16-bit era, Capcom was knocking it out the park with spectacular Disney licensed platformers like Rescue Rangers
, and The Magical Quest
. The most revered of these titles was certainly DuckTales
, released in 1989. Capcom took its Mega Man
architecture, applied it to DuckTales
, and together it struck platforming gold. This time they’ve enlisted developer WayForward to bring back the franchise to XBLA in attempts to conjure up that same magic once again with DuckTales Remastered
. History has
been rewritten, but is it for better or worse?
The original DuckTales
game was the whole package: rock solid platforming, a great score, and one of your favorite cartoon licenses of the time. Don’t forget that theme song either; even in 8-bit tones it has the most intoxicating allure. Author Terence Malick put it well when he said, “Nostalgia is a powerful feeling; it can drown out anything." There’s a distinct possibility that this can come into play in regards to DuckTales Remastered
. WayForward knows we can’t fight nostalgia and they’ve catered to it in detail. A large portion of the game remains meticulously intact, right down to level design and enemy placement. Sound effects and music also have a retro feel to it.
The gameplay holds up to the test of time. There's a healthy variety of enemies to come across and the placement of them always keeps you on your toes. Platforming is handled extremely well, except for the occasional moment where hit detection feels slightly off. The decision to simplify pogo hopping was a really sound one, making the game much more accessible. Classic game purists can play on Extreme difficulty which restores the old pogo controls whereas lower difficulty levels allow you to toggle on or off the newer, simplified pogo controls. The four difficulty levels cater to the casual and the hardcore; play on cruise control while on Easy or test your patience on Extreme. The most important facet here is that the platforming is as fun as it is functional. It's absolutely rewarding to pull off some smooth pogo jumps or to hop around and find the many secret sections and pickups scattered about the level. All in all, DuckTales Remastered
remains faithful to the original.
Not everything is the same, though, it is a remastering after all. The graphical update is the most apparent change obviously. The character models in DuckTales Remastered
are, to simply put it, absolutely beautiful. Uncle Scrooge looks like he was taken straight from the cartoon, as do the rest of the character models. The animations are a treat as well, whether it's swinging your cane or getting stuck in the snow. You'll catch yourself doing these actions just to check out the animation. The crisp look of these characters can sometimes be detrimental, believe it or not, when compared to some of the more plain-looking environments. It's a minor gripe but something worth noting.
Each of the six levels offers something different to enjoy. Portions of the game like the mine cart sections do a great job of breaking things up. Although you won't come across racecars and lasers too much, there's enough variety in each of the levels to keep you interested. Boss battles are fun to complete, and are challenging enough to where you'll hope you have a few heart containers saved up before starting them. Overall, WayForward kept things the way they were enough to give it that simplistic, old school feel and it works like a charm today.
Besides Scrooge and his nephews there are a lot of character appearances, and it's great to see so many minor characters represented like Gyro, Bubba Duck, Gizmoduck and more. The voice acting in DuckTales Remastered
features most of the original voice talents, even for some of the minor characters. The voice actors haven't missed a beat and all sound fantastic. The problem lies in the fact that while they're talking, the characters are mostly standing still with occasional snippets of expression. The script leaves a little more to be desired, too. If you don't frantically skip cut scenes during your first playthrough, you'll certainly be doing it on subsequent ones. It's great that there's a story, and voice acting is top notch, but it doesn't feel like an episode of the show by any means.
The musical score is something of note as well. The 8-bit opener sets the stage while the Moon Theme brings back some memories. The intense boss battle music is another highlight. Everything in between is decent; you'll probably tune it out for the most part. This is meant to be a compliment since it's not bad or annoying by any means.
The achievements are well crafted and offer the right amount of challenge. While difficulty playthroughs aren't stackable, it works out as a great way of prepping you for that run on Extreme. On an Extreme playthrough, you only start with three lives and have to pogo jump the hard/classic way. There are also fewer health refills and 1UPs, and the entire playthrough has to be done in a single run. It may sound daunting, but the achievement for it encourages you to go for something you may have not tried otherwise. The same goes for the achievement Look Ma, No Spats!
. Here you need to navigate a section of the Amazon by completely pogo-ing the whole way. The list as a whole does a great job of artificially extending the length of the game, which was probably done by design, but it works.
Length could be a concern, as a single run may only last about 90 minutes if you skip cutscenes. In this way it shows that Remastered
is much like the original. You'll want to do multiple playthroughs purely because it's fun. Still, it feels like DuckTales Remastered
is missing a little something; perhaps a Boss Rush mode or a diamond collecting mini-game? While WayForward was getting their hands dirty remaking a classic they could have taken the opportunity to expand on it a little more.
The mix of a retro feel with modern enhancements makes DuckTales Remastered
the definitive version of the game. There are ways this game could have been made even better, but besides some minor complaints, this is still a high-quality experience. Whether you're a fan of the original or not, DuckTales Remastered
is a blast from the present.
The reviewer spent about 8 hours playing the game on the way to achievement completion. A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.