Platforms: PlayStation 3/Xbox 360/Wii U/PC
Developer: WayForward Publisher: Capcom
Genre: Action-Platformer Platform Played: PlayStation 3
Being born in 1991, I slightly missed the DuckTales cartoon craze, and quite sadly, the original 8-bit release of DuckTales on the Super Nintendo in 1989. WayForward and Capcom, however, have now made it possible for a new generation of gamers to enjoy the classic platforming adventures of Scrooge McDuck and his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie. DuckTales Remastered is almost exactly identical to the original release, but this revision has beautiful new visuals, a remastered audio accompaniment and a few minor gameplay touches. It also includes a new tutorial level and pre-final boss level.
So how does DuckTales hold up over two decades following its original release? Quite well.
DuckTales Remastered allows you to access any of the game’s five stages at any given time, which include the Himalayas, African Mines, Amazon, Transylvania and the Moon. The sense of freedom to choose the levels you desire is appreciated, as there is no major narrative connecting these stages together. Once you complete every stage, an overarching narrative will suddenly form setting up the newly added Mount Vesuvius stage and final boss fight. The small leading plot is meant to establish Scrooge’s love for his nephews. Even though earning the big bucks is his main goal in life, his family is always most important.
This isn’t the only narrative aspect included in DuckTales Remastered’s 3-4 hour campaign, however. Each stage has its own small tale to tell. These are reminiscent of a cartoon series, each telling their own story separate in the grand scheme of the game. These can be quite entertaining, and it allows the original voices from the TV show to truly shine, making the title feel like a homage to the cartoon series as well as the game. However those who played the original title may find issues with the constant story segments, as they come thick and fast. It felt like the control was being taken away every few minutes to explain some new irrelevant plot details, and it became quite frustrating. Let’s be honest; in DuckTales, gameplay is king, and having the experience constantly taken out of my control seemed like a bad more on WayForward’s behalf.
These small, yet frequent scenes can be skipped by going to the games pause menu, but the game continuously repeats these scenes if you restart from previous checkpoints no matter how many times you have seen them.
Aside from that, DuckTales Remastered is a challenging platforming affair that never frustrates. It slowly ramps up the difficulty allowing players to hone their craft so they can truly enjoy some excellent platforming segments without wanting to throw their controller through a window. The same challenging qualities can be found in every boss fight, offering players a chance to enter the classic boss fight mentality. There is no ability to spam your enemy with gun fire, there is no run and hide option, you must memorise the pattern and play it smart to come out victorious. Even though a majority of developers have moved on from this classic mentality to instead emphasise scale and grandeur, DuckTales offers a breath of fresh air that is truly satisfying.
Scrooge McDuck must rely on his trusty cane to dispatch enemies throughout his adventures. He can also use it as a pogo stick to bounce off enemies and traverse over large chasms. The pogo-cane lacks precision though. Sometimes you would use in the correct controller input, but Scrooge would just duck down onto the floor or not respond to your inputs leading to a rapid death. Many of my deaths during DuckTales were contributed to the cane’s precision issues. Sometimes it can work perfectly with no problems at all until it randomly stops responding. This is definitely not a game-ending issue, but the response problem is something that stands out among the otherwise flawless gameplay.
The first thing you will notice when you start DuckTales Remastered is the absolutely gorgeous visuals. Every 2D animation has been hand drawn onto the 3D modelled background, and it shows. At times I forgot I was playing a video game. It looked like an HD version of the cartoon itself, and I was completely immersed in the adventure to earn some big bucks. The phenomenal artwork itself justifies experiencing DuckTales Remastered, especially if you were a fan of the original title, as it brings your childhood favourite into a whole new impressive light. Notably, there is no framerate issues throughout, providing a smooth visual treat.
WayForward has also included some re-imagined soundtracks, re-working the original 8-bit tunes to more modern feeling, and they sound fantastic. The new tunes complement the game’s new visual beauty brilliantly. The Moon stage’s theme sounds as epic as it always has. Once players complete the game, they can toggle between the original 8-bit soundtrack and the newly created tunes at their leisure.
DuckTales Remastered also adds a few new features, which include the ability to take a swim in Scrooge McDuck’s money vault and spend your hard earned money to unlock concept art, music and character images. Earning enough money to unlock these enjoyable collectibles can be completely ignored, but it encourages players to search for every secret area in every level to try and optimise their cash collection. Overall, the title can be completed in one sitting for most players, so the added incentives for replayability is something hardcore DuckTales fans will be pleased about.
Probably the greatest flaw of DuckTales Remastered is in the game’s conclusion. After defeating the final boss, the post-battle ending has been altered. Instead of a simple climbing race that eventually leads to the game’s conclusion, the difficulty has been ramped up severely; as you must navigate an arduous vertical platforming segment to end the game. This wouldn’t be much of an issue if the ending wasn’t broken. After failing to reach the item in time, the game is meant to restart, allowing you to attempt the section once more until you finally make it, but it more than likely won’t. If you don’t reach the top in time, the game will for whatever reason glitch out, meaning you will have to repeat the last level, including the final boss fight.
I tried to complete this section four times and for the most part, I would get one or two attempts at this vertical maze. However, sometimes it would only allow one chance before the game glitches. You are stuck staring at the screen with the ability to still move Scrooge McDuck off-screen, leaving the game on a rather disappointing ending. Having to repeat the same final level, including the final boss over and over because the game has a technical issue isn’t something I want to experience. It’s a shame my experience with DuckTales Remastered ended on such a low note.
That is the key point I must re-irradiate, DuckTales Remastered is just pretty damn fun. Throughout the game, I found myself constantly smiling as I did watching the cartoon when I was a young kid. It sent back those long-lost memories of enjoyment, and that made the price of admission worth it. The game also holds up extremely well for the most part.
There are definitely some issues when it comes to precision platforming due to the pogo-cane problems, and the added story content may throw some hardcore fans off, but it can be easily skipped in a two button process. Hopefully an option to turn it off completely is something WayForward will patch in at a later time.
DuckTales Remastered provides nostalgia while adding gorgeous visuals, an amazing soundtrack and solid platforming. Even with its issues, DuckTales Remastered is a game I strongly recommend, so make sure you don’t let this title go by in a duck blur.
+ Beautiful visuals
+ Amazing musical score
+ Challenging platforming at its best
+ DuckTales Remastered is a duck-load of fun
– Post-final boss ending glitch
– Pogo-cane response issues
– Story segments take the control away too often