DuckTales Remastered Review

By Nelson Power on August 18, 2013

When DuckTales Remastered was revealed to be in the workings at PAX East, there was a mixture of emotions. You had people who were surprised, nostalgic and on the whole, rather pleased. After all, DuckTales is considered one one of the best NES titles. Others were wondering how Capcom would handle the Remastered version, but it ultimately comes down to difficulty, challenge and the overall changes made to in order to update the game. In short, did Capcom and WayForward do this game justice? Well yes, yes they did.

Releasing on each of the current generation consoles and on the PC, the game is pretty much what you'd expect from a remake, not a port but a remake. The game has had a massive update in terms of graphics, to the point that every single stage feels like you're actually taking part in one of the cartoons, albeit a little more fraught with peril than the TV series used to portray. But everything from the crispness of all the characters to the atmospheric environments is nostalgia inducing, not just to fans of the NES game, but also to fans of the DuckTales TV show from way back when.

That appeal may be lost on some of the today's younger generation who didn't grow up knowing much about Scrooge McDuck, and maybe the only way they know of him is through either Disney or Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts. But there is one thing for certain, if that opening title music isn't familiar and doesn't put a smile on your face, there's something very wrong. On the same merit, the music, which has been composed by Jake Kaufman, really enforces the original work. Each and every track is just as brilliant as it was before. To top that as well, the original cast of Duck Tales has returned to voice over the characters.

Nostalgia is all well and good, but the gameplay also stands the test of the time. It's been updated to a degree, however, the game still manages to feel quite a lot like the original.

Still, there have been a lot of changes and while most of them are for the most part "˜better' some of them ironically make it worse in places. For example, the ability to bounce on Scrooge's pogo stick is now far easier, with an option to turn on "˜Hard Pogo' if players want to revert to the ability of having to press it each time they want to bounce. Instead, the pogo now bounces as long as the button is held down, assuming it makes contact with a surface. This however, while making the game far easier also makes timing your jumps a little bit more difficult when the need arises. The problem being, you become more accustomed to holding down the button, it makes it harder to break when you need to use timing to avoid attacks, it's really a minor gripe though.

The other thing that really causes issue is the way levels are now handled. You're required to fetch specific items in order to progress to the later parts of a level, be it coins, or scraps of paper to formulate a magic spell. Miss one? Backtracking through the level is what's required. There is a map to aid with finding the specific objects you need, and this does alleviate some of the issue, but it's the story element that requires it, and it can be quite aggravating if you've died on a level right at the end several times and have to proceed through the whole thing again.

However, let it be known that that's one of the charms of the title. The learning experience that was so normal in most games for over a decade is still there: you fail, you learn, you fail again, you learn, and then finally succeed making the experience more rewarding. But, because of the story element you'll spend more than half the time in the level, once you're speeding through the stuff you've got sussed out, opening the menu and clicking skip cinematic. It's not a slow process, but it doesn't take away from the overall flow of the gameplay, it's a shame because the story adds to the level design, but after repeated plays also removes from it. Funny really.

Aside from that, the game actually includes a completely new level at the end and a "˜tutorial level' at the beginning. Both are unique, yet feeling true to the origins. There's also the added "Scrooge McDuck's money bin", which players can leap into and progressively see fill up with the money they collect. This money can also be used to purchase concept art.

There are at times when the game feels overly unfair, but more often than not it's through fault of assumption. There are moments where the game will re-spawned you on top of an enemy still walking towards the side of the screen or a pogo bounce randomly doesn't happen. It may lead to some mild frustration, but it also makes you learn to deal with these situations.

Having been reviewed on the Wii U there is one strange design choice specific to the platform, and that's the handling of the gamepad. For whatever reason, the game is displayed on both in exactly the same manner, including the sound. This is fantastic if you turn your TV off, and want to play the game like a handheld game, but it's a little strange they didn't decide to have the pad display the map, and have an option to switch it over. Capcom have since done this with Monster Hunter after all?

Final Thoughts

If you've been overly nostalgic lately or DuckTales meant anything to you as a child or even an adult, then you really can't go wrong with picking this up. The work that's been done on this remaster is applaudable, especially as it's not a simple port. However, if you're easily frustrated and you're not used to this style of gameplay, you may find yourself becoming more disillusioned by the fragmented gameplay on repeated attempts, despite all of its charm and atmosphere.

Completely true to the original and the tv series in every way possible.
Fantastic music.
The ability to dive into your ‘hard earned’ money.
Skip cinematic becomes increasing patience wearing.
Hitboxes and controls can seem rather unfair at times.
Backtracking through levels.
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