DuckTales, Woo Ooo Oo. It’s hard for anyone familiar with the old Disney animated television series to not sing the theme song when the title screen for WayForward’s DuckTales: Remastered game comes up. The catchy tune is a reminder of a simpler time in Nintendo Entertainment System side-scrolling gaming, a journey through nostalgia’s doors that faithfully carries through this revived property’s gameplay, for better and worse.
The original DuckTales, and the faithful remaster, were created using Capcom’s Mega Man 3 as a template. All of the game’s five levels, in this case each hiding a treasure for Scrooge McDuck to collect and add to his never satisfying fortune, are available from the outset to play in any order desired.
In each level ranging from the jungle to the moon, Scrooge uses his trusty cane as a pogo-stick to dodge obstacles and smash objects or unfortunate enemies that he happens to land upon. His journey from level beginning to end is more evasion than anything else as bottomless pits, spiked objects and enemies are avoided in order to reach the level’s ultimate goal.
In this respect, DuckTales: Remastered plays exactly like its original predecessor and feels every bit as old as the core gameplay is. Its simplicity is a fun throwback initially, but compared to modern side-scrollers the motions feel extremely antiquated before too long, especially the odd mechanic of having to perform a normal jump and then enter pogo-stick mode before reaching the ground. All five levels can be beaten in two hours or less, and the easy difficulty with unlimited lives setting revokes the expected challenge of a side-scroller to successfully navigate a level with a set number of lives.
Rather than tinker with the gameplay, WayForward has wonderfully spruced up the visuals to make them pop off the screen with depth and dimensionality befitting today’s downloadable games. The aesthetic improvement is a night-and-day comparison, as it should be considering we’re nearly 25 years removed from the original game’s heavily pixelated design.
WayForward has also injected a stronger narrative into the game via frequent cut-scenes with voice work provided by the surviving members of the original DuckTales cast. These admittedly nostalgic cut-scenes can be tedious to endure, especially Scrooge’s snarky remarks, but can be cut short by a trip to the pause menu to there select “Skip Cinematic,” two button presses that should have been one.
It dawned upon me while listening to the first few cut-scenes who DuckTales: Remastered was designed for. Today’s parents of 4-13 year-old kids were themselves 4-13 when the original game came out. The adolescent tone and humor of the cut-scenes, simplistic gameplay, and a frivolous yet enjoyable new feature to swim in Scrooge’s money vault, is a way for mom and/or dad to introduce their kids to a spruced up 1980s gaming experience they once likely thoroughly enjoyed at roughly the same age.
– Dan Bradley
DuckTales: Remastered was reviewed for Xbox 360 using a code provided by Capcom. It was released for Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U and the PC on August 13, 2013.