Ducktales gets a new coat of paint but the gameplay isn’t quite as robust as the 1989 original.
Some games are stuck in a timewarp. That isn’t to say that the awesome NES Ducktales isn’t fun to play today, but it no longer makes as much sense in a world where games have moved on and where Ducktales is no longer on TV. Wayforward Technologies seek to break Ducktales from its eighties comfort zone with a polished remake for all major digital platforms. Bouncing on stuff is just as fun today as it was in 1989, but Ducktales Remastered is never quite as polished as its source material.
Players control the entrepeneurial Scrooge McDuck, as he searches for hidden treasures with trusty cane in hand. It’s 2D platforming by the books, with the unique and addictive mechanic arriving in the form of Scrooge’s pogo jumping. He can land on top of enemies with his cane pointing downwards, allowing him to leap higher in the air. It has been made easier to use this time around, but the simplified controls don’t detract from this genius gameplay mechanic. Bouncing on stuff is fun, plain and simple.
The levels you remember return in full swing and, as in the original, you can tackle them in any order you wish. A few changes have been made to the levels, and a training level in Scrooge’s office also introduces players to the game in a more gentle manner. The changes are for the most part welcome, with the level design holding up well.
"The general flow of gameplay hasn't translated quite so well for this remastered edition, however."
The tunes you associate with each level also shine through spectacularly. The soundtrack has been remastered with a fantastic respect for the source material and, coupled with the luscious hand drawn character sprites, Ducktales has never looked or sounded so good. Full credit also goes to getting the original voice actors for the characters. It’s a shame that age seems to have slowed them down. Their delivery is weak on the whole and, with dialogue regularly interrupting the flow of gameplay for banal descriptions of the treasure you find, original isn’t always best.
The general flow of gameplay hasn’t translated quite so well for this remastered edition, however. The pogo jumping works for the most part, but it occasionally cuts out unexpectedly. It isn’t game breaking but, with only three hits before you die, it can be mighty frustrating to get unfairly hit by an enemy.
Unfair is a word that ultimately sums up the difficulty level in Ducktales Remastered. Normal mode offers you only three three lives before your booted back to the beginning of a level, so it’s very easy to find your hard work on a lengthy stage undone. It’s very frustrating, but the challenge is something you can come to terms with in a game ripped from a time when titles were generally much tougher.
"Ducktales Remastered plays out as you would expect a retro remake, slick, accessible but not quite as polished as the original. "
What doesn’t make sense is how much easier the easy mode is by comparison. Double health and unlimited lives? Don’t insult me. A middle ground would have made a real difference, but there is still an odd charm in the challenge of Ducktales Remastered for the most part.
Ducktales Remastered plays out as you would expect a retro remake, slick, accessible but not quite as polished as the original. Fans of older platformers will find a lot to love in Ducktales, but it’s a much harder sell for everyone else. It’s a brutal and often unfair adventure and, though it looks and sounds gorgeous (minus the voice acting), this beautiful presentation is likely to go over the heads of much of the younger generation. Should you get Ducktales? If you loved the original or have a soft spot for retro 2D platforming, then your curiosity will be satiated, but others should think twice before laying down their cash.
This game was reviewed on Wii U.
Gorgeous sprites, Classic soundtrack, The gameplay holds up well, Original voice actors
Frustrating difficulty, Some irritating gameplay quirks, Weak vocal delivery interrupts the action
Wayforward Technologies bring Ducktales into 2013, but the NES classic is brought kicking and screaming against modern best practice.