Based on the Disney cartoon that ran for four seasons in the late ‘80s, Capcom’s original “DuckTales” video game on the Nintendo Entertainment System became a minor classic of the 8-bit era. In it, players stepped into the role of Donald Duck’s penny-pinching, Scottish transplant uncle, Scrooge McDuck, on a globetrotting adventure to find more treasure.
Now, 24 years later, it’s gotten a 21st-century makeover. But is it worth your time and money?
Right off the bat, it’s easy to see how much the team at WayForward Technologies has changed the 1989 game. Gone are the pixilated graphics and off-model character art from the original (where Scrooge inexplicably wore a red blazer). Instead, “DuckTales: Remastered” sports brand new HD animation that looks cleaner and crisper than even the “DuckTales” cartoon ever did.
One thing that will instantly stand out to fans of the TV series is the voice acting — the original game didn’t have any, but WayForward somehow managed to get most of the surviving cast members from the Disney cartoon to reprise their roles, including 94-year-old Alan Young as Scrooge McDuck and 96-year-old June Foray as the evil Magica De Spell.
That alone might make “DuckTales: Remastered” worth buying for fans.
The veteran actors are put to good use with a brand new storyline and script that nail the vibe of the original series.
Despite the fresh coat of paint and the spruced-up dialogue, though, “DuckTales: Remastered” is still, at its core, the same title that was released 24 years ago, which is both good and bad. Gamers familiar with the old-school platforming of the NES-era “DuckTales” will appreciate how much of it feels the same.
But its age does show in a few unfortunate ways. First of all, the gameplay is pretty limited, especially by comparison with recent 2-D platformers like “Donkey Kong Country Returns” and “Rayman Legends.”
The hop-and-bop mechanics typical of pretty much every platformer ever made get only the slightest of twists thanks to Scrooge’s ability to use his cane like a pogo stick. This comes in handy for everything from taking out enemies to finding invisible gemstones to crossing hazardous areas, so be prepared to bounce through the vast majority of the game with your thumb planted firmly in place on the same button the whole time.
A few mine cart segments spice things up, but even those feel simplistic by comparison with modern platformers.
The other sure sign of the age of “DuckTales” is the level of difficulty. Easy mode gives players an unlimited number of lives, but for the daring few who decide to start out on medium or hard, get ready to die — and often. With a limited number of lives and no save points, players should expect to be sent back to the beginning of a level a number of times before completing it or quitting out of frustration. After all, the original game was designed by the people who made “Mega Man.”
In addition to the five stages that appeared in the original game, “Remastered” also features two new levels: Scrooge’s Money Bin, which doubles as a crash course in the game’s control scheme, and a short stage leading up to the final boss. Although they only stretch the game out by a little bit, the Scrooge’s Money Bin gives players the opportunity to swim in a sea of gold coins, undoubtedly fulfilling many a childhood fantasy.
There are also a number of unlockables, including trophies, concept art and music that provide gamers an excuse to keep playing even after completing all the stages once. Even so, it's pretty short. A dedicated player could probably plow through it in one or two sittings.
Ultimately, if just the mention of “DuckTales” doesn’t make you want to sing “woo-oo,” you might not be the core audience for this nostalgia-fueled blast from the past. Still, overlooking the somewhat dated gameplay (as well as occasionally unresponsive controls), “DuckTales” packs a surprising amount of old-school Disney charm. And at just $20 for the disc version ($15 for the digital download), it’s a lot cheaper than your average game — something Scrooge would undoubtedly approve of.
Game: "DuckTales: Remastered"
Platforms: PS3, XBox 360, Wii U
ESRB rating: E
A native of Utah Valley and a devoted cinephile, Jeff Peterson is currently studying humanities and history at Brigham Young University.