As a big fan of both the cartoon series and the 1989 NES classic, I was quite happy to hear about Wayforward remastering Ducktales. These guys have already proven that they know how to handle a classic license with their release of A Boy and His Blob on the Nintendo Wii. The original game was a NES classic, but it has been many years since Scrooge McDuck and his motley crew of misfits was in the limelight so expectations were high for this remake.
Ducktales: Remastered remains very faithful to the original NES classic so you once again have the five levels set in the Amazon, Transylvania, African Mines, Himalayas and on the moon. The levels, apart from the newly added tutorial in the vault and final showdown at Mt. Vesuvius can be played in any order. Since I was quite young when I played the original game the levels felt like massive, sprawling affairs and I frequently got lost, especially in Transylvania. Now, some 24 odd years later and with the newly added map function this really isn’t the case anymore and I was able to breeze through the game in less than three hours. Levels, for the most part are exactly as I remember them, but some areas have been added or expanded which is quite neat. The boss battles have also been completely reworked with new patterns and challenges which I quite enjoyed.
The game now has multiple difficulty levels, but even on “Normal” you have to redo levels if you lose all your lives. Playing on “Easy” provides you with infinite lives and more health, which lessens the frustration, but obviously makes things a bit too easy. The levels feature plenty of diamonds and treasure to collect along with some objects that have to be found in order to access the boss battle. These items are clearly marked on your map, but losing all your lives and having to restart everything can still sting a bit, especially on the final level. All the money that you collect during levels now also serves a purpose and can be used to buy unlockables such as concept art, music and sketches. You can even dive into Scrooge’s money vault between levels and swim around in the coins just like in the cartoons. The level of the coins never rises and the whole experience is a bit pointless, but I don’t know of anyone who watched the cartoons during the 80s and didn’t dream of doing it so kudos to Wayforward for its inclusion.
The remastered visuals look very nice and the character sprites feature Disney quality animations. All the characters look like they jumped straight out of the cartoons and will definitely put a smile on the faces of fans. As excellent as the sprites look I was a bit disappointed by the backgrounds and would have preferred to see some nice hand drawn art instead of the 2.5D polygon efforts. While the backgrounds make the sprites pop out more it does look rather dull in comparison.
There are some new cut-scenes which attempt to flesh out the story and these use the original voice actors wherever it was possible. Hearing Alan Young (now in his 90s!) reprises his role as Scrooge is brilliant and brought back a lot of fond childhood memories. The catchy theme song alone is enough to kick the nostalgia into overdrive, although I suppose younger players who are unfamiliar with the series might not feel the same. The cut-scenes can drag on a bit and repeat if you have to restart levels, but can be skipped from the pause menu so there is no reason to complain. Scrooge also makes some goofy comments during the levels which can repeat too often but never becomes excessively annoying. Ducktales is fondly remembered for the great soundtrack and the remastered version stays true to the original tracks while putting a modern spin on them. Many of the sound effects also sound close to the 8-bit originals which is brilliant.
I played the game using an Xbox 360 controller and had no problems with the controls. Scrooge still has his handy cane, used for pogo jumping on enemies or whacking obstacles out of the way. The pogo controls have been simplified, although the option exists to play with the slightly trickier original controls. Since you are unlikely to amass enough coins to unlock all the extras on your first playthrough the game does have some replay value as well as a few Steam achievements to aim for.
Honestly, while the game is rather short I had a blast with Ducktales: Remastered and would love to see other Disney classics such as Darkwing Duck or Chip & Dale: Rescue Rangers receive the same treatment. You can probably knock off a point or two if you are not a fan of the original game or don’t like an old-school challenge but personally I think that Wayforward has done a stellar job with this title. All together now, “Life is like a hurricane here in Duckburg.”
*Review originally published August 2013.
- OS: Windows®XP™ SP2, Windows®Vista™ or Windows®7
- Processor: Intel™ Pentium 4 2.4 ghz with Hyper Threading
- Memory: 1 GB RAM
- Graphics: NVIDIA® Geforce 9600GT, AMD® Radeon™ HD 3870 or higher (it must be able to manage Pixel Shader 3.0) with at least 512MB of display memory.
- Hard Drive: 1 GB available space
- OS: Windows®XP™ SP2, Windows®Vista™ or Windows®7
- Processor: Intel™ Core 2 Duo / AMD™ Athlon 64 X2 or higher.
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce™ 200 series or higher, AMD® Radeon™ HD5000 series or higher (it must be able to manage Pixel Shader 3.0) with at least 512MB of display memory.
- Hard Drive: 2 GB available space