RELEASED: August 13, 2013
AVAILABLE ON: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U
DEVELOPER(S): WayForward Technologies
The first proper review of year four is not of an RPG, but of a highly anticipated remake of one of the greatest 8-bit platformers in history, and also a game that was among the first to be reviewed by me. Launched in the U.S. as early as 1989 and the rest of the world through 1990, Disney's DuckTales for the Nintendo Entertainment System changed the face of the commonly ill-fated licensed game. Based on Disney's most popular primetime cartoon of all time, DuckTales looked awesome, it sounded awesome, it had innovative gameplay partly inspired by Capcom's NES flagship series Mega Man, and the best part of it all is that it hasn't lost one cent of its value. Alongside Super Mario Bros. 3, The Legend of Zelda and Castlevania, DuckTales is a game you expect to find in just about any NES gamer's shelf. Unfortunately and ironically enough, it's not found in mine - none of those games, in fact, not yet. Which makes DuckTales Remastered all the more important of a purchase to me. WayForward and Capcom did a good service here. The only question that remains is: how's the remake and how does it stand up to the original classic?
Bless me bagpipes
Alan Young : Scrooge McDuck
Terence McGovern : Launchpad McQuack
Russi Taylor : Huey / Dewey / Louie / Webby
Brian George : Flintheart Glomgold
June Foray : Magica De Spell
Chris Edgerly : Gyro Gearloose
Eric Bauza : Fenton Crackshell / Gizmoduck
Wendee Lee : Mrs. Beakley
Chuck McCann : Duckworth / Bouncer Beagle / Burger Beagle
Frank Welker : Bubba Duck : Big Time Beagle / Baggy Beagle
Scrooge thwarts yet another money bin raid by the Beagle Boys, to find that they were specifically after a worthless painting. A close examination of the painting reveals the global coordinates of five of the most fabled treasures in the world - hidden on the Amazon, Transylvania, a diamond mine in Africa owned by Scrooge, the Himalayas, and finally, the moon. Scrooge, along with his closest companions, eagerly embarks on a galaxy-wide treasure hunt; as expected, some of his worst enemies are also very interested in the five treasures.
When I was a kid, it felt like everyone except me had a copy of DuckTales. DuckTales was one of my favourite TV shows at that time, I loved the game, but since everyone had it, my mom saw no sense in buying the game, 'cause I had such easy access to it. Well, at least I had Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, which was based on my absolute favourite show at that time - I think my mom's brain would've imploded out of sheer noise if she didn't buy that one for me. I borrowed DuckTales from my friends countless times. One of them quit borrowing games to me 'cause I tended to keep them for ages, and one of them quit because I made the mistake of borrowing one of his games forward to a kid I didn't even know, and who ended up breaking it. (I asked for my friend's permission to pass the game forward, by the way. He somehow failed to remember it when the cartridge ended up in tiny pieces.) A couple of years later, DuckTales was put up for rental at a recently opened video store, along with 30+ NES games, including the recently released DuckTales 2. I'll tell you, all the money spent on rentals of those two games, plus a few other choice cuts from the NES library, would've been quite enough to buy me my own copy of DuckTales... or about a dozen of them. Hindsight's a bitch.
|Some of the best-crafted enemies of their time.|
When we're talking about a little facelift, we mean something else. The level design looks exactly the same at first, but some modifications to the layouts have been made to match the developers' original vision - for example, the map of the Amazon is no longer a "cube" shaped like several hard Z's piled up; instead it's a wide, straightforward area, with the Sceptre's resting place clearly separated from the rest of the level to make it feel more like the exhausting hunt for a mythical treasure it's supposed to be. Speaking of the Amazon, there are also some easter eggs - finding which sometimes yields Trophies - referring to some of the stupidities of the original game. Remember that statue that asked you to pay up $300,000 so that you could get to the next screen, even though you could (perhaps unintentionally from the developers' end) continue for free just as well with minimal effort? Keep an eye out for it, the joke's on him this time around. There's no forced switching between levels and you don't need money during gameplay, and those are things I'm really grateful for. The levels themselves might look like some dedicated retro gamer's LittleBigPlanet project - the terrain is very blocky and full of clear seams, which also makes the discovery of secret rooms absolutely effortless. In return for this con, we get gorgeous character animation, magnificent effects, and huge bosses. I mean HUGE, and I don't think "reimagining" is quite big enough of a word to describe their look or their general behaviour. There's practically one single immediately recognizable boss, all the others will surprise the crap out of you... and they all actually have individual motives for their interference. More about how this game explains (some of) the weirdest things, later.
|I've been here before.|
DuckTales Remastered has got to hold some sort of record for the oldest, but none the less supertalented voiceover cast. All the surviving members of the very original DuckTales cast reprise their roles from the cartoon, and even those who've passed have been replaced by incredible talent almost indistinguishable from their predecessors. When I heard that most of the cast would be returning, I thought Alan Young (Scrooge) was going to be the oldest voiceover actor in video game history at the age of 93 - well, I had no idea June Foray (Magica) was still alive and kicking, much less still in the business, and she's friggin' 95! Of course, now that I'm reading about her on IMDb, I can see she's done a lot of voiceover work in the last ten years for both Disney and Warner, for both TV and video games. Here's a tip of my invisible hat to this incredible lady of steel! Not to take anything away from Mr. Young, of course - that old duck's still definitely got it, as Scrooge keeps proclaiming. This new version of the game's taken a lot of crap for its "pointless" story, which constantly interrupts the game - while that might ring true to some extent, it's a pleasure to listen to these professionals go to work.
The story has indeed changed a bit, so all its weird occurrences could be explained a bit better without the developers having to stoop to make changes to them instead. For example, the orange ball-shaped creature you have to fight in the center of the Earth under the African Mines is actually the king of a tribe of underground creatures who are causing Scrooge's employees to flee the mines with the haunting noises they unintentionally make while having their "underground olympics". You might know this storyline and this "king" from before, if you ever watched the show. The giant rat on the Moon is actually a lab rat who takes a bite out of the green cheese you're after and as a result, turns into a hulking monster with enhanced speed. Not to spoil the bosses' backgrounds any further, I'll just spill out that the level taken out is the second trip to Transylvania at the end of the game, which has been replaced with Magica De Spell's home volcano of Vesuvius - at which I think the original flight sequence with both Magica and Glomgold was supposed to take place, it was just never explained. Personally, I dig the story and how surprisingly faithful the game remains to the original in spirit. It's something else I'm deeply bothered by, here, and it's how unreasonable the game is from time to time - the NES game had nothing on how unfair the game can be, especially on the Hard and Extreme difficulty levels.
|The bosses have gained a few pounds each.|
|We now know how Scrooge and his allies |
are able to breathe on the moon. That leaves just the Beagle Boys.
Good enough, and ultimately irresistible, I guess, but if I may be frank, too expensive. Yeah, sure, look for the original DuckTales on any auction site and the prices go from suspiciously cheap to stinking expensive - at least you know what you get from a digital download, and if it's a bit glitchy (which it is!), don't worry, a patch is surely coming soon to take care of your problems for you. Still, €14.95 will hardly garner in any new DuckTales fans; there are just us old timers who grit their teeth, buy the game and end up with the unanimous conclusion: the original game was better, and much more reasonable even though it was released at the most commonly unreasonable of times.
+ The first round's just filled with excitement for anyone who played the original
+ The nice overhauls to boss and level design
+ Classic music awesomely rearranged, great voice acting...
- ...Although they could've toned down on the interruptions, I concur
- The seams on the terrain and the movement of the camera reveal every "secret" a little too easily
- Turns from hard to utterly unreasonable quite often, especially on the harder difficulty levels
- The steep price
- The crummy unlockables and their high in-game price
- Few deadly glitches
< 7.8 >