Some of you may not be familiar with Disney's DuckTales, but when I was a kid it was one of my favorite cartoons. So imagine my surprise when my dad drove me and my sister to Erol's to rent a movie and a video game for the weekend and I saw DuckTales on the NES. Of course I snatched it up and beat it over the weekend, but I enjoyed it enough as a kid that I went on to rent it two more times and eventually buy it. It remains one of my favorite pick-up-and-play NES games of all-time. So imagine my surprise when I saw this video in early 2013...
A remaster of one of my favorite NES games with visuals by one of my favorite developers? Heck yes, this is going to be great! said the 2013 me. Don't believe him, it's not the same game. said the 1989 me. So...who was right? It turns out both of us were right, and that's not a bad thing at all.
Remastered remains mostly the same as the original NES game aside from two new levels being added. Scrooge's Money Bin was added as an introductory level to teach you the ropes and explain why Scrooge McDuck is seeking the five lost treasures. In addition, the final level, Mount Vesuvius, was created from scratch as opposed to having you travel through Transylvania again.
It's chilly down here!
Story, you say? The Beagle Boys break into Scrooge McDuck's vault to try and steal his fortune. Turns out they were just after some old painting. Upon closer examination, the painting hides a secret: a treasure map encrypted in secret code. After running it through his super-computer, he knows the locations of the five lost treasures: the Amazon, Transylvania, an African diamond mine, the Himalayas, and on the Moon.
Each level plays out like an episode of the show, and each features one (or more) members of Scrooge's staff or family. You'll see appearances by Huey, Dewey, and Louie, Mrs. Beakley, Webby, Launchpad McQuack, and more. Every character is fully voiced, and almost all of the voice actors from the original cartoon return (including Alan Young as Scrooge McDuck). Dialogue periodically breaks up the flow, but it is easily skipped if you don't want to watch it.
You can choose any of the five primary stages after you beat Scrooge's Money Bin, and the game saves after you successfully complete a level (unless you're playing on the Extreme difficulty, but I'll get into that later). The goal of each stage is to collect as much money as you can, defeat the boss, and collect the lost treasure. Once you get all five treasures, the final stage opens up and the game comes to a conclusion.
There's plenty of collectables to unlock.
So why collect all of this money? For unlockables, of course! Every gem you collect is turned into cash, and you can use that cash to help the richest duck in the world buy more stuff! Music, concept art, sketches, and even art from the TV show are available...for a price! It will take a couple of playthroughs to be able to afford all of it though.
The stages are laid out virtually the same as they were on the NES, so if you've memorized the level layouts on that version, you should be just fine. If you get lost, you can view the map by pausing the screen (on Easy and Medium). Each stage also houses a Heart Container (except on Hard and Extreme difficulties, more on that later) and a lot of hidden secrets, so it's worth exploring thoroughly to add to Scrooge's wallet.
Scrooge controls very well. Jump with the B button, and activate his pogo jump by holding the A or Y button in mid-air (if you have hard pogo on or are playing on Extreme, you'll need to hold down along with the A or Y button). Mastering the pogo jump is essential for progressing over spikes and defeating enemies. If you come up to a wall or obstacle, you can swing the cane to knock things around and try to get to where you need to go. This can also help defeat certain enemies.
Mrs. Beakley, you're a saint! But...how'd you get on the Moon?
The biggest change from the original NES game are Remastered's visuals. If you've played other WayForward games, like A Boy and His Blob on Wii, then you know they put a lot of attention to the visuals. This is no different. Scrooge and company look great and animate how you would expect them to. The backgrounds are a different story. They're in 3D (as opposed to the characters and enemies, which are hand-drawn in 2D) and just don't look as pleasant as the rest of the game does, for the most part.
Remastered also sounds great. Jake "Virt" Kaufman composed and arranged every song very well. If you don't care for the new songs, you can switch back to 8-bit music (which includes the new music he wrote for the game) from the main menu after you clear the game once. WayForward also kept a few of the 8-bit sound effects in as well as adding new ones. The result is very pleasant on the ears and will keep you humming after you've finished.
Now, the difficulty. From the start, you have three choices: Easy (less damage taken, full map revealed), Medium (treasures revealed on the map), and Hard (no map, less heart containers). They're pretty in-line with the NES game's difficulty. The only exception is that all three allow you to save after you finish a stage. After you finish the game on Hard, Extreme becomes an option. On Extreme difficulty, you cannot save at all, so you have to finish it in one sitting (no continues allowed), and you're forced to hard pogo (which is how you had to do it on the NES). On Easy and Medium, there are five additional Heart Containers to be found (one in each stage), while Hard and Extreme only have two.
My time with DuckTales Remastered was short but sweet. I finished Hard in a little over two hours and briefly dabbled in the other difficulties. Nostalgia overwhelmed me while I was playing in two different ways: I felt like I was playing one of my favorite childhood games again, and I felt like I was watching one of my favorite cartoons again. So it is a different game, but it's the same game...and I'm okay with that. Even if you haven't played the NES game, it's worth a spin.
DuckTales Remastered is available in the Nintendo eShop for $14.99 (plus tax). It features Off-TV play and displays the map on the Gamepad (optional). The game also features online leaderboards.
You know, I had always read the PS3 had pressure sensitive face buttons (and I believe, the PS2?), but I've never felt it. They always just felt like regular buttons to me. Are there any games I could test that out on?
I really love this game. It's truly an awesome remake and I wish more companies would go back to older licensed games and give it the love and attention that this game was given. I do have a few things that could have made it better:
1. More responsive pogo: The pogo doesn't register sometimes and it can make you lose health or lives.
2. Make skipping cutscenes easier: As it stands, you have to press start and then X (on PS3) to skip a cutscene, taking you out of the game for a bit. A simple double tap of the x should have taken care of this.
3. Don't lower the music volume when characters are speaking: Since scrooge and company talk a lot during actual gameplay, it would be nice if they had just kept the music at the same volume. It detracts from the experience every time it happens.
4. Allow voiceovers and cutscenes toe be toggled on and off: That way, you can play the game as if it were the original but with new graphics, sound, and music.
5. Unlock original game: The original game would be the ultimate prize for finishing the game.
I already finished the game on medium and I am playing it again on easy now with the 8-bit soundtrack that is unlocked once you finish it.
@ploot I thought the whole point of the Pogo was that the timing has always been really finicky and kind of a pain in the ass to get used to, that's just a carry-over from the NES games? If it's really the PS3 controller then I'm screwed! (maybe I should wait until I get a Wii U...)
@deathly_hallows The pogo is defaulted to work with the touch of the pogo button now (no need to hold down on the pad anymore), so the issues the original game had aren't here (by default, anyway. You can turn the "hard pogo" option on).
I haven't played the game on PS3, but many reviews mention that the pogo attack sometimes doesn't work when the button is pressed.
I hate pressure sensitive buttons. They're squeaky and unresponsive and digital games and even more annoying in games that actually use them (particularly racers where you can't go full speed without smashing the button down for the entire race <- pet peeve). Yet another one of those useless Sony controller innovations, like the two rear shoulder buttons and thumbstick buttons. Ergonomically crap, all of them.