Some things are better left in the past: mullet haircuts, parachute pants, and Capcom’s DuckTales. Sadly, the latter is quack. Sorry… back.
After twenty long years of blissful retirement, Capcom took it upon themselves to storm into Scrooge McDuck’s retirement home in Duckberg, whip off his tartan comforter, and forcefully drag the feathered codger flapping and quacking to a modern-day makeover clinic. While under the knife, the developers-cum-cosmetic surgeons at WayForward did their best to rewrite history, plucking up the NES original’s drab presentation values to wondrous new high-definition heights.
In this aspect, the operation was a rip-roaring success. Gone are the vapid backgrounds, the pixelated graphics, the 8-bit soundtrack and, surprisingly, even Scrooge McDuck’s regal red coat. In their place lies exceptionally drawn artwork and animations, clean lines, bold colours, and a remixed, re-energised soundtrack – “a-woo-oo!”
With the use of Scrooge McDuck’s trusty cane, the richest duck in Duckberg can pogo jump over obstacles, onto enemies and smack various boulders and objects around when necessary.
But all that glitters is certainly not gold, as DuckTales: Remastered proves to be a dull, lifeless, repetitive and disgustingly short affair. However, this isn’t just a lazy, cash-grabbing port, despite the outrageous price tag of £11.99. This is the NES game in its truest form, with only a couple of tweaks and changes to the game that rode the coattails of the popular cartoon series. But this is actually to the game’s detriment, as DuckTales: Remastered leaves you cursing your kilts and questioning the original’s ‘classic’ status as the quacks of old age begin to show. Sorry… cracks.
Jump Pogo, Pogo, Pogo
At its heart, DuckTales is supposed to be a platformer, but you’ll rarely be tested in this regard. Instead, DuckTales core gameplay is about making your way through a number of tight corridors in a non-linear fashion, allowing you to tackle the levels your way: up, down, left or right. It’s hardly an expansive playground, but it serves to provide some sort of self-exploration – you are on the hunt for treasure after all.
While Scrooge may initially come across as a useless, albeit courageous old coot, the Scotsman has developed an awkward, yet highly-effective means of transport, attack and self-defence: the art of pogo jumping. With the use of Scrooge McDuck’s trusty cane, the richest duck in Duckberg can pogo jump over obstacles, onto enemies and smack various boulders and objects around when necessary. It’s a simple enough system and you’ll soon be pogo-ing all over the place, on the Moon, in the Himalayas or even over to the power button as you tire at the relentless monotony of it all. Bounce, pogo, pogo, pogo.
Throughout the fits of endless pogo jumping – which, may I add, is accompanied by a delightfully grating sound effect – you’re tasked with filling the coffers of the billionaire duck’s money bin by collecting various gems which are hidden throughout the level. Did I say hidden? Sorry, I meant invisible. Every gem or treasure box is almost always invisible to the naked eye and can only be discovered by walking past or jumping into the area where you believe the treasure to be. What happens, then, is that half the time you’ll be casually walking away or worse, mid-jump, only to see a gem or treasure box appear. Then, of course, you have to turn back on yourself to collect it. Discovering treasure should be fun, but it often feels like a cheap, needless chore.
Speaking of cheap, it’s easy to forget how heartbreakingly difficult games used to be. DuckTales: Remastered, even on normal difficulty, will chew you up, spit you out and make you restart the whole level again. While avoiding enemies isn’t the most monumental of challenges, especially with the pitiful AI, avoiding never-ending enemies when trapped in the tightest of corridors is a brutal one. When a handful of hearts stand in the way of losing a precious life, the punishment of replaying the entire level again isn’t worth the risk. The flipside of this situation is that when played on easy difficulty DuckTales: Remastered can be completed in just over two hours.
Lurking at the end of each level are thoroughly underwhelming boss battles, each with their own set of scripted attacks which need to be avoided so you can give them several pogo jumps to the head. None of the bosses proved to be an exciting climax and only underline the fact that DuckTales: Remastered is about as much fun as jumping into a sea of gold coins.
The Blathering Billionaire
In an attempt to tie the whole tale together, WayForward decided to implement cutscenes into the game where previously there were none. Ever wondered what’s on the mind of Scrooge McDuck at all times, why ducks can apparently breathe on the moon or the riveting thoughts of Scrooge’s nephews, Heuy, Dewey and Louie? No? Well tough, you’re going to sit there, and you’re going to listen because the white-winged ducks won’t shut their beaks now. The achingly slow pace of each character’s delivery adds nothing to the game’s enjoyment and as a result they stretch out an already tired and drawn out affair. Thankfully, the cinematics are skippable.
Naturally, DuckTales: Remastered will have its fans. Those who wish to be transported back to the days of pinpoint reflexes, level memorisation and simplistic gameplay will feel right at home here, and there’s plenty of unlockable sketches and designs to ogle at; however, it really isn’t worth the asking price for anyone but diehard nostalgics.
A review code of DuckTales: Remastered was provided courtesy of Capcom. The game was reviewed on Wii U.
Duck Out Of The Way
In the gaming industry everything is exploitable and consumer demand is generally an irrelevant factor. Nostalgia, however, is crucial for companies to consider the dreaded remake, remaster or reimagining that has trudged up countless ‘classics’ from their resting places, stumbling into an age which they clearly don’t belong. Ultimately, that’s the sole reason as to why DuckTales: Remastered exists: to remind sentimental gamers of how great video games used to be, and how brilliant DuckTales was. Unfortunately for Disney’s feathered billionaire, DuckTales: Remastered does nothing of the sort. Scrooge McDuck’s return is a frail, forgetful and fuddy-duddy disappointment that tarnishes the original’s now questionable legacy. A-boo-hoo, indeed.