A new game has hit the downloadable market recently, that being a remastering of one of my favourite games as a kid – Ducktales Remastered. Though Capcom has certainly earned a reputation for itself for not releasing any “new” games in their classic franchises (particularly Megaman, 3 games cancelled in less than a year, one in less than 24 hours after its announcement… but that’s a topic for another day) – it’s great to see that they are supporting Wayforward in recreating this NES classic.
To start off with, the thing that I remember fondest about the original Ducktales is the wonderful soundtrack and, fortunately, each track has been lovingly recreated by Jake Kaufman – giving a modern feel to most of the tracks (particularly there’s some definite “wub-wub” hidden in Transylvania’s score). The tunes are still catchy and, though short, they never irked me once during my playthroughs.
The art style as well is another thing that has been nailed by Wayforward, though this hand-drawn style is something that they are no stranger to. The animations of Scrooge et al is sublime, though I would have liked to have seen their mouths (bills?) move when speaking, but given the size of the sprites relative to the screen, this can be forgiven.
Speaking of the voice acting, there is lots of it in this game. To try and capture the style of the cartoon, there are quite a lot of cut scenes throughout the game. Further to this, the surviving original voice actors all reprise their roles, including 93 year old Alan Young as Scrooge McDuck himself, ensuring that each character feels just right. Every missions is ‘top-and-tailed’ per sé with at least one cut scene with often one or two thrown in each mission for good measure it seems. This is a point of contention for many for, as good as these sequences are, they do disrupt the gameplay somewhat – and given that each level is only about 10 minutes long once you know what you’re doing, it can put you off your game a little.
As for the gameplay, well, it’s just as you remembered it – which is not necessarily a good thing in this case. Each level has its own specific goals but, more often than not, you are tasked with finding a few objects – rendezvousing with one of your comrades and progressing to another section of the stage before the boss. Also, there are only six stages in the game (excluding the tutorial) and, as mentioned before, each level can take under 10 minutes, so this can be a short game – providing you can live to see the end.
There are three difficulties, just as in the NES game, which greatly affect how the game plays out and how you conduct yourself. On the “Easy” difficulty, players start with unlimited lives, three hearts and enemies do half a heart of damage per hit. Whenever you die, you just start back at the screen you died on – also the map is fully revealed from the start of each stage. On “Normal”, players have three lives and enemies do a full heart per hit – also the map has to be revealed as you go. Lastly, on “Hard”, players start with three lives and no map. Now, I’m a fan of challenging games, but there’s a severe problem with the difficulty in Ducktales Remastered – it’s just not fair.
Whereas the original Ducktales had tight and responsive controls, the controls just aren’t as strong in this remastered version. For those who don’t know, in the original game – pressing and holding “↓” would make Scrooge bounce on his pogo stick – the main mechanic in the game. Wayforward has now changed the pogo controls to one of two options; either holding “A” or “Y” when in the air, or holding “↓” as well as “A” or “Y”. Whilst the controls feel fine at first, it soon becomes apparent that the pogo stick isn’t responsive or reliable, which leads to many frustrating deaths. I played this with both the Wii U Pro Controller and the Gamepad, both of which suffered from this problem – which is a shame. Also, one thing which is really odd, is that the game doesn’t support Wii Remotes, which is definitely a missed opportunity in recreating the classic.
As for replayability, there is a gallery where various behind the scenes goodies can be purchased. These range from early sketches of the backdrops in the game, to the soundtrack as well as sketches of the TV show. There’s also an unlockable “Extreme” difficulty for completing the game on “Hard” mode, wherein you start with three lives and no continues – definitely a choice for the masochist. Though, my favourite is definitely the option to play through the game with the original 8-bit soundtrack behind you once you complete the game for the first time.
All things said and done, this is definitely a game I enjoyed but, is it for everyone? I don’t think so – though if you are willing to look past the cheap deaths and dated gameplay, there’s an enjoyable platforming adventure that’s been faithfully recreated by Wayforward to be had. Now, if you don’t mind me, I’m off to solve a mystery or maybe even rewrite history…