As soon as players boot up WayForward’s remake of the classic Ducktales, they’ll find their toe tapping, and their mouths moving to that oh-so-memorable theme song. Players who grew up with the original game will find waves of memories hitting them like a hurricane. The original game was a gem on the NES, featuring excellent level design, fantastic musical tracks and a respectable difficulty level.
But the core of Ducktales charm derived from the commitment to its source material. Exploring the Amazon, Transylvania and snowy mountains, players would come across many familiar faces from the TV show such as Huey, Dewey and Louie and Launchpad Mcquack. The only way for a remake of such a classic to feel worthwhile is if it capitalizes on the franchise — if it gives us the full length Ducktales adventure we dreamed of, only this time not set back by hardware limitations.
Fortunately, that is exactly what WayForward has done.
Ducktales Remastered never feels like some lazy cash grab that exploits nostalgia for success. On the contrary, it feels more like a love letter to fans of the old series by incorporating many features that weren’t possible in the days of the NES. The entire voice acting cast from the original series returns in a large number of cutscenes that play out during each stage of the adventure. The acting is solid, and WayForward’s dialogue is just as cheesy, charming and often clever, as one would expect from Walt Disney themselves. Scrooge will come across many of his favorite pals and adversaries along the way, and interacting with them is a quick — albeit joyful — experience. In the case of Ducktales, however, the game itself is too good to want to watch the cutscenes more than once. One view is all it takes to get immersed into the world and then its back to adventuring. Given Ducktales well known difficulty, I expected having to watch each cutscene over and over between deaths would be an annoyance. Fortunately, you can skip every scene within the game in a matter of seconds. After skipping, the screen will fade to black for no more than a single second and then it’s back to the adventure. The cutscenes never hurt the pacing.
Explore more and sate your greed, or get through as quick as you can.
The world of Ducktales comes to life even better visually. The 2D character models are crisp and gorgeous, once again reflecting the original show perfectly. The animations on the other hand can be a tad simplistic, but they are still miles away of what the NES could accomplish. Tiny little touches like Scrooge angrily patting the Venus fly trap as it has him in its grasp, or him losing his glasses when he accidentally whacks a wall are what really bring the charm of Ducktales to life. Players will find numerous small moments such as these that make it evident a lot of care was put into this remake.
However, nostalgia can be a dangerous emotion. While players who enjoyed the original will find themselves reminiscing when they hear a remixed tune of their favorite theme, a video game can never get by on sentimentality alone. Fortunately, Ducktales holds up quite well as an exceptionally designed — if shorter — platformer. The original game was of course beloved for giving players the ability to step into the world of Ducktales. However, it was, and still is, also a solid platformer that incorporates elements from the Mega Man series, not surprisingly. Players can choose to tackle the various stages in any order they want, and like Mega Man the levels are not straightforward. There are several twists and turns in each stage, some that require exploring, and others that will reward Scrooge with more money for his money bin. It all depends on how greedy the player is, and it is this level of robust level design that helps Ducktales stand the test of time. Difficulty withstanding, it is a short game, but it is also quite dense.
The added cutscenes bring the Ducktales universe to life.
The mechanics of the platforming can be a different story. Scrooge Mcduck possesses one method of attack: his trusty pogo bounce. It’s an incredibly addicting and fun mechanic, however, it can also lead to shoddy collision detection when encountering certain enemies. The last boss of the game, in particular, requires very precise hits to defeat. It’s fortunate that the problem never arises too often, but it is noticeable. Players may often wonder how a hit wasn’t registered only to find that Scrooge’s cane must have hit a fraction of an inch away from the top of the enemy itself. The problem arises sporadically enough to be forgiven. Climbing chains, however, can prove to be a difficult task (at least when using the control stick). This is most apparent during the final segment of the entire game, when the player is required to climb multiple chains. I had been perfectly patient with Ducktales difficulty up until this point. I won’t risk spoiling anymore, however.
Aside from this very poorly designed final segment, the rest of Ducktales stages are a whimsical treat. Each is full of atmosphere, thanks largely in part to the wonderful musical tracks that accompany them. WayForward has even gone the extra mile by including two new stages, one at the front and tail end of the game. The first serves as an enjoyable, if very short and easy tutorial stage, while the second is a completely linear stage — almost Rayman Origins-like — which isn’t quite up to the standards of Capcom’s five originals. Still, the extra content is certainly appreciated, and these stages warrant their inclusion.
That just leaves what may be the most fondly remembered element of Ducktales: the music. Once again, WayForward has blown it out of the water with the presentation values. They clearly know just how important themes like the Moon motif are to fans. Each of the remastered themes in Ducktales are exceptional, especially that oh so legendary theme from Earth’s celestial body. Players who experienced the original will find themselves with a bright, gleeful smile on their face as they adventure through each world, hearing each tune. There is even an option to use the original music.
It’s almost impossible not to smile when playing Ducktales Remastered.
The real question, and the greatest challenge Ducktales faces is whether a purchase is warranted for those who did not play the original. While any fan who grew up with either the video game or Television series will no doubt get more out of Ducktales, WayForward’s remake may easily convince newcomers why the game is so beloved in the first place. The level design is solid, even if the platforming can be a tad wonky, and the musical themes have to be experienced by any player, new or old. Ducktales is a nostalgic treat. There is no question about that. If you enjoyed the original gem, you should absolutely pick this up. If you are interested, fifteen dollars isn’t too steep a price for such a charming game like this.