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DuckTales Remastered Impressions – Quack-tastic

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WooHoo! Capcom with a little help from the HD remake masters over wat Wayforward Technologies has decided that the time was right to bring back the cult favorite NES game, DuckTales. Remembered for it’s super catchy chiptune music, bouncing pogo stick, and devious platforming, I couldn’t wait to dive back into my past with this Remastered version. Was nostalgia blinding me or is it just as quacking great?

With the NES version not having any sort of narrative holding the story together as it was just a collection of interesting levels for resident penny pincher, Scrooge McDuck, to collect various jewels in, the updated Remastered version bring together something of a story to tie everything into a neat little bow. The Beagle Boys have broken out of jail and into Scrooge’s prized money vault in search of a master list of rare and valuable items. Naturally, Scrooge’s interest is immediately piqued and off on the adventure we go.

Due to the new story line, the game is given a short tutorial level, more than likely to introduce the player to the mechanics. Ultimately, it plays just like it’s NES counterpart with only two buttons: jump and what I like to call, the cane button. With the cane you can swing and hit object like rocks or oil cans and you can also use it like a pogo stick to gain additional height on jumps or attack enemies from above. Believe me, you’ll be using this quite a bit. It’s simplistic but it absolutely fits with the gameplay which is made up of challenging platforming and (a old school Capcom staple) respawning enemies. All of the classic levels are represented here from Transylvania, to the African Mines, to the Moon. The non-linear levels are faithfully restored with added intros and dialogue to provide some context and answers to “burning” questions such as how Scrooge is able to breathe on the moon without a space suit.

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Graphically, the game looks wonderful, full of vibrant colors and wonderfully animated hand crafted sprites. This shouldn’t be a surprise considering Wayforward’s experience creating games like Double Dragon Neon, BloodRayne Betrayal, and that Boy and his Blob remake to only name a few. It’s certainly a treat for the eyes.

In the sound department, I’m extremely impressed with the stellar work of Jake Kaufman who stays true to what made the original so catchy and yet adds a modern layer to the music. It’s immediately familiar and new at the same time. I won’t lie, I left the game on the title screen for a good five minutes humming and singing along to the classic DuckTales theme song. On the voice acting front, Wayforward and Capcom have brought in as many original voice actors as they could from the television show including Russi Taylor, Terry McGovern, Frank Welker, Chris Edgerly, and Alan Young who voices Scrooge. It’s a wonderful addition and really adds credibility to the game. There’s nothing quite like hearing Alan’s strong English accent back once again.

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With that said, players not familiar with the classic game may be in for a shock with how unforgiving the game can be. Players are given a set amount of lives and once they’re all gone, the player is sent back to the stage select screen losing everything you’ve collected in the previous level. It’s a harsh reality compared to modern games.

Yes, it can be unfair at times, at least when compared to modern conveniences. I had to remind myself of that when I ran out of lives at the end of a level, well over $1 million in cash, and was unceremoniously dumped back out to the level select room. I sat there dumbfounded for a moment, almost angry at losing everything I had accomplished from that level. It was at this point I remembered that the original NES title was the same way. To it’s credit, DuckTales Remastered stays true to the mechanics and gameplay from the old Nintendo version. With the amount of regenerating life, continues, and respawns present in games these days, it’s a shock to be treated like this and something that I had completely forgotten about. I respect Remastered for sticking to it’s guns and staying true to the experience.

While the game tries hard to stick to the classic NES gameplay for better or worse, for people who grew up with the title, Remastered represents a wonderfully made and faithful experience. It may not be for everyone, but I definitely recommend at least checking it out. It’s a fun romp full of beautifully hand crafted sprites and catchy music.