In the late 1980s, I remember rushing home every day after school to see my favorite Disney cartoons on our big console TV. DuckTales, in particular, was a such ahead of its time, with amazing storytelling and loveable Disney characters. When Capcom released the original NES game in ‘89, it was also a huge success and set the bar for what the NES could do at the time. Now Capcom has brought all of the classic Disney NES titles from that era to current systems with The Disney Afternoon Collection. Six titles, some better than others, all originally released every year between 1989 and 1994 are here. With tons of extras and the ability to rewind the game at anytime, are you ready to relive your childhood? Sing it with me, “Life is like a hurricane…”
I will get into the games themselves soon, but first I must point out all the very cool added features with The Disney Afternoon Collection. There is a gallery of all the original boxes, the art Disney gave Capcom Japan as reference, and loads of fun tidbits of info I really enjoyed reading and seeing. Capcom also included all of the music for each title, so fans can turn it on and enjoy one song after another. Players can now save their game at any point, which is a must given how challenging all of these collected games are notorious for being. There are different filters for the screen, and one even emulates old CRT TVs. And by far the best feature is the rewind feature. With the L1 button, players can literally turn back time as much as they want, like the game Braid. This is extremely helpful and made for a much more enjoyable experience than the frustration I suffered as a 12-year-old.
First up is DuckTales. My favorite game of the collection, it holds a special place in my gaming history, as I spent many hours mastering it back in the day. A sidescroller, like all the other titles, players control Scrooge McDuck and use his cane to pogo bounce on enemies and collect treasure. What I remember being a major feature was the ability to back track. Usually in NES games, if you went forward, you couldn’t go back. Not so here. DuckTales encouraged exploration and there are tons of hidden passages. Given Scrooge and Huey, Dewey, and Louie’s epic adventures on the show, it translated well. While difficult, once players master the pogo, it’s a blast to play. The graphics are some of the best of the NES era, and players can travel to the various levels in whatever order they prefer, like Mega Man, another Capcom title. While we saw an HD remake of this game a couple years ago, it just doesn’t pack that same nostalgic punch. DuckTales 2 (1993) is also included. Using more of the same formula as the original but with better graphics, and some would say much easier difficulty, this is still a great game, but over fairly fast. A lot of gamers sadly never played this title due to the 16-bit era taking over. The Disney Afternoon Collection is worth getting for these two titles alone.
Next up is Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers (1990) and its sequel (1994). Players control Chip and Dale, the chipmunks, as they jump around, collect items, and pick up boxes, apples, and other items to throw at enemies. The graphics are again fantastic for the time and the gameplay simple enough to learn, but still challenging. The game is more linear than DuckTales, and players cannot backtrack. Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers 2 was the the last of Capcom’s NES titles; by 1994, most gamers had moved to the SNES or Genesis. It’s more of the same gameplay, but better graphics. The sequel is less difficult than the first, I would say. And the controls are a little tighter. Being able to play as Dale at the start is always nice too.
Talespin (1991) is also included, my least favorite title on The Disney Afternoon Collection, even when it came out for the NES originally I was not a fan. By far the most challenging of the collection, it’s a sidescrolling shooter, but players can shoot in any direction, which was a neat idea at the time. Even with the rewind feature, I found this title to still be infuriatingly difficult. Players have to dodge way too many enemy projectiles at times, particularly boss fights. Ironically, the show Talespin was my least favorite of the cartoons as well.
Darkwing Duck (1992) is based on the spin-off show from DuckTales. Basically a duck version of Batman, Darkwing Duck is another platformer, and again, it was known for its difficulty, particularly with its jump and hang mechanics. Darkwing Duck features great level designs and the ability to fly to any area you want via DD’s sidekick, Launchpad McQuack. Using ranged attacks is a nice change, but be ready for some crazy boss fights, as they are all move very erratically. The graphics are so good for the time; it’s really amazing to see what Capcom was capable of 25 years ago with the 8-bit format. As if this wasn’t enough, Capcom also threw in a Time Attack mode, where players compete for the fastest level completion times. Boss Rush is a mode where players go through each of the bosses in a title and those times are also posted online for competitive gamers.
Overall, The Disney Afternoon Collection is a walk down memory lane for those who grew up in the NES era, and a great representation of retro gaming for those that did not. In those six years between 1989 to 1994, players were treated to some of the best NES games, and the fact that they also featured our favorite cartoons made it even better. My only complaint was that while there is trophy support, the few are not easy to get and there is no platinum trophy, sadly. Most trophies are awarded for the various added modes, like Boss Rush and Time Attack. These are great for those hardcore players looking to beat timed runs and show off, as the scores are polled and players can see where they stand against other players. For the rest of us though, these features won’t be a selling point. Still, given the age of these games, they are still very enjoyable for all ages, and I highly recommend The Disney Afternoon Collection. I still have the DuckTales theme in my head.
The Disney Afternoon Collection is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC via Steam. This review was based on a code for PS4 provided for that purpose.
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