Ah, DuckTales. A huge part of some of the 1980s/early 1990s babies and certainly a part of mine. The videogame adaptation handled by Capcom for the NES is still considered by many one of the best platformers ever. Twenty something years later, it’s getting a high resolution remake, complete with voice acting from the original cartoon cast.
Remakes aren’t always good news, though, so the real question in regards to WayForward’s remake would be “was it really necessary?”. A simple answer would be “no”. The original game was already pretty darn good, after all. But is it a bad game, now that it sports some gorgeously animated cartoon sprites, reworked music and is out for almost all videogame platforms under the sun?
Not at all. DuckTales Remastered is a very well put together game that might have not been everyone’s first pick for a remake but works rather well, regardless. If you are a fan of the original, you’ll be able to jump right back in. Remastered plays exactly like the original, with a few tricks thrown in for good measure.
Scrooge McDuck is back at it. Living up to his name, he wants to be even richer, out to plunder all the lost treasures in the world (and out), with the help of his nephews and a handful of trusted employees. Why, we wouldn’t expect such a gentleduck to go at it by himself – he does have his trusty cane, after all.
And that cane is put to very good use throughout DuckTales. Just like the original, Scrooge’s primary means of attacking enemies is by bumping them over the head while using his cane as a pogo stick. He can also use his cane as a golf club in order to hit treasure boxes open or launch boulders in order to hit hard to reach targets. This aspect of the game remains intact from the original and it’s still just as fun.
One addition has been made, though, in regards to how you can pull off this attack. The default option, taken straight out the original’s sequel, DuckTales 2, lets you use the cane by jumping and pressing the attack button. The “hard pogo” control option handles ‘pogoing’ as you would in the first game, that is, having you not only jumping and pressing the attack button, but also holding down on the d-pad or analog stick. Both options work well on their own, even though I stuck with the default option.
DuckTales‘ gameplay is extremely rhythmic. Enemy placement is done in such a way that you can easily attempt to speed run through the game, with certain sections even enabling you to avoid touching the ground if you are good with the pogo stick controls. There’s even an achievement/trophy for crossing most of a stage without touching the ground – which I failed terribly at. Some of the pauses during gameplay in order for dialogue cutscenes to play tend to break that rhythm at points, although thankfully, they can be skipped in repeated runs through the stages.
The biggest gameplay change in this remake, perhaps, aside from a few liberties taken with the level designs, that largely make them more open to exploration than in the original, are the boss fights. These encounters are now much more challenging and much like later era Nintendo games, they are highly dependent on exploiting movement patterns and the level layout. At later difficulty settings, these fights turn out to be extremely challenging, mostly because Scrooge’s health points only go so far and some of the bosses require a lot of hits before calling it quits.
Even though I don’t particularly have much fondness for the English dubbing of the original DuckTales cartoon, after all, I watched it in another language as a kid, listening to the original cast coming back to their roles was fun. Granted, some of the voice actors sound a little old, especially Magica DeSpell’s. DuckTales‘ much beloved soundtrack has also received some attention from WayForward. The remade level themes sound excellent, although, personally, I still prefer the original’s, but it might just be nostalgia talking here.
Overall, DuckTales Remastered does what it sets out to do. Not only does it treat the source material respectfully, it doesn’t retread the path most remakes tend to of attempting to overly modernized worked before and still works today. On the other hand, it plays extremely safe and doesn’t take many chances outside of the obvious changes to the presentation. Although Remastered might not rival Capcom’s own Bionic Commando Rearmed for the title of best remake of a classic game by any means, it’s still a highly enjoyable game for series’ veterans and newcomers alike.