Any good child of the late 80’s will get the goofiest smile when they hear the Ducktales Theme, I scientifically proved it a few days ago when the song came on my car’s stereo, big goofy grin. Old age aside, Wayforward Technologies were given the nigh-impossible task of remaking the 1989 NES game, Ducktales and in this humble writer’s opinion, they took a dive right into Scrooge’s money-bin. Taking a beloved classic and adding story, beautiful visuals, and the magic of the television series could not have been easy, but all of their hard work shows and the game is truly great; not only for an old nostalgia buff, but also for the average gamer who may not be familiar with the license.
The original Ducktales for NES had no story at all, the player was just thrust into this room with a huge computer and decided which level to go to to hunt for treasure. Some have beaten the original game in under ten minutes, which would be a problem in today’s game market. Wayforward realized that and added a story, so they tacked on a few extra levels and some cut scenes to give the player and Uncle Scrooge a reason to traverse the globe and go to the moon for treasure. The story is somewhat thin, but then again you have to go to the moon to get cheese, so we’re not looking for a Last of Us type story. We’re looking for a goofy story that only Scrooge McDuck could waddle into.
The cut scenes that were mentioned earlier are a feast to the eyes, as is the whole game. Wayforward makes the game look like an interactive episode, the cut scenes with the ensemble cast look great, the levels Scrooge has to maneuver through look amazing, and the character sprites are spot on. Launchpad, Huey, Duey and Louie, Gizmo Duck all look like they jumped off the television show and into the game for your enjoyment. The reason that the art quality is so great is that Wayforward took the time to have everything hand drawn, and all this time and effort really makes the game a piece of art. The artists behind this left no detail out and even made the animations fluid and true to the show.
To make the game even more like the episodes, Wayforward got the entire cast back in the studio to voice this game. Yes, even 94 year old Alan Young is back to voice Uncle Scrooge and he sounds like he never missed a beat since the last episode aired in 1990. None of them phoned in their lines either, you can feel the fact that they love these characters and still want to do them justice, even 26 years after they began.
The cartoonish sounds they added into the game are great as well. They fit the mood of the game, and to those that played the game when they were just ten, can get chills from hearing them again. The one that brought memories back for this writer was the cane jumping sound, it is the exact sound from the 1989 game and it brought about goosebumps. That isn’t the only awesome sound that enters your ears, when you first start up the game you are greeted with an 8-bit version of the Ducktales Theme, and if you can muster the strength to hit “start,” even more will take you back. The level select music is a redone version of the original and 20 plus years later it is still a perfect match. The sounds that the enemies make, the destruction Scrooge wages, diamonds appearing, all have that perfect Disney quality to them, and they all enrich the experience.
The controls are the only issue that kept this game from perfection. Seeing as this is an old Capcom platformer, we all know it is going to be hard, but the controls make it Dark Souls hard while playing on normal. At the game’s outset you are given three difficulty options, Easy, Normal and Hard. To have the most satisfying experience one needs to play the game on Easy. The controls won’t be an issue seeing as you have unlimited lives and you won’t snap your controller in half because the game didn’t sense that you pushed “Up” on your D-pad and fell into the lava instead. Other problems with the controls are the pogo cane jump, while enjoyable to use stomping on enemies, it gets annoying when the pogo jump randomly stops and you lose half a heart instead of an easy kill. The smartest thing to do is play on Easy, get your feet wet, then go back for the hard stuff.
Replayability is a huge concept now in the gaming world, generally if your game can’t be replayed or doesn’t have a huge online value it gets traded in. Being a download only title Ducktales: Remastered really doesn’t have this problem, however, if word got out that the game was a three hour event, chances are sales would be low. Luckily Wayforward thought of this before release and threw in some challenges that would attract even the smallest completionist. As you gain more and more treasure by playing through the levels, you can do two things with the money, you can chose to dive into the money-bin and swim around a bit, or you can buy paintings. The paintings are nothing more than a completionists heroin, but it works for this game. The fact that you have just ONE more painting to get will make you play the Amazon level again just to have them all. They also pulled a cue from The Legend of Zelda by making heart pieces available on each level. They are hidden off the map, but they are a must get, seeing as the game’s difficulty on normal is punishing, the more hearts you have, the better chance you get of being the richest duck in Duckburg.
Ducktales: Remastered is a great trip down memory lane for any aging gamer, plus it’s a solid platformer for any gaming fan. Wayforward brings back the difficulty of the golden era of gaming, and adds some twists to it that make it viable in today’s market. It comes highly recommended for an old school Ducktales fan, and for the younger gamer who doesn’t even know who Scrooge McDuck is. This game will make you want to dive into your money-bin, fish out some money and spend it very wisely. Just don’t spit the coins out of your mouth like Uncle Scrooge, you’ll be liable to catch something.