Like the movie industry, game publishers are often more than happy to try to milk a little more money out of an old franchise. This year, at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles a couple of redone classic platforming games were on display. While it might seem like indie games have taken over the platforming genre, big publishers like Capcom have plenty of experience in the area. Ironically, two of the classics making a return are Disney properties. Sega is remaking Castle of Illusion and Capcom has just released DuckTales: Remastered.
In case you need a refresher, the DuckTales cartoon debuted about 25 years ago and ran four full seasons. The cartoon was based on the Uncle Scrooge comic book series and shared the adventures of Scrooge McDuck and his three grand-nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Of course the demographics for videogame players skewed much younger in earlier generations than it does today. That meant that anything popular with kids was sure to get the videogame treatment and like today, they were often copies of original games with whatever intellectual property crammed into it. In 1989, when DuckTales was made, it wasn’t really a carbon copy of Inafune-san’s Mega Man, but there really wasn’t much original in the game either.
In the early days of gaming, many of the games were brutally difficult. There are plenty of reasons for that, but it can simplified down to the choice of mechanics over narrative. The exception to this rule was typically the licensed games, where the narrative was already provided and the presentation was the chief concern of the property owners. With this in mind, it’s no wonder that a game like DuckTales is fond memory of many current adult gamers. As a premium downloadable game, the question really is, is it really worth buying?
DuckTales: Remastered is a really great looking reimagining of the original. This is no small feat, as many reissues are just the same game, with the same low-res assets, adjusted to play at a higher resolution. One of the most loved features of the original game was the ability to traverse the levels in a number of ways and the inclusion of optional hidden treasures. These have been downsized somewhat in Remastered, but there is more freedom than many other platform games, including the ability to choose the stage you want Scrooge McDuck to tackle. Also new are an entire prologue level and the ability to dive into vault, just like in the cartoon.
Staying true to its kid-friendly, platforming roots, DuckTales: Remastered is pretty tame when it comes to violence. Scrooge can perform a standard jump, a pogo jump to attack enemies or traverse dangerous areas, as well as smack rocks or treasure chests with his cane. In this modern version the jumping is a lot more forgiving and there is almost no reason to miss any platforms while performing the standard jump. Bouncing off enemies with the pogo jump is only slightly more difficult. DuckTales does offer some drastic difficulty spikes and the overall difficulty is now adjustable. There are also some unlockable assets including a pretty cool 8-bit music mode.
In some ways, DuckTales: Remastered is the perfect classic game remake. The new visuals are huge improvement, the audio is commendable and while it is a slightly different game, it captures the essence of DuckTales brilliantly. DuckTales wasn’t the best platformer of the era and wondering why this game was chosen for a clean-up is a reasonable query. That being said, it’s really too bad that the real icons of the 8-bit era don’t all get this kind of love. Oh wait, that’s almost Nintendo’s entire business model. Seriously though, if you loved the cartoons and are looking for chance to reminisce, this is your game. DuckTales: Remastered isn’t a faithful reproduction, nor is it innovative, ground-breaking, or an example of masterful gameplay. For the most part, it’s just DuckTales the way most of us remember it, through the rose-tinted filter of nostalgia.
DuckTales: Remastered is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for Mild Cartoon Violence. This game can also be found on: Nintendo Wii U, Xbox 360 and Windows PC.