Monday, March 31, 2014

DuckTales Remastered (Wii U, PS3, 360, PC) Review

We close out what has become a month of platformers with DuckTales Remastered, a remake of the classic NES DuckTales. Phil gives us his verdict on Scrooge McDuck's long-awaited return to gaming.

A Retro Quack Attack

While Capcom is obviously well known for such popular classic franchises such as Street Fighter, Mega Man, and Strider, back in the NES era the company was proficient in creating excellent Disney licensed games, whether based off films or television cartoons. It certainly would be quicker to name the games that weren't so great rather than the ones that were. DuckTales was one of these truly great games that fans of the NES can still find immense enjoyment out of. Now, Capcom and WayForward have teamed up to craft an HD remake for not only those who wax nostalgic for the NES original, but also for a whole new generation of gamers. It all adds up to DuckTales Remastered. Is this remake all that it is "quacked" up to be?

The NES DuckTales didn't provide any semblance of a story. There was no explanation for Scrooge McDuck venturing to five seemingly picked-out-of-a-hat locations to find five treasures. DuckTales Remastered creates a story that explains all of this, and even goes the distance in clearing up questions formed by players of the original game. Ever wanted to know how in the heck Scrooge McDuck and companions could breathe on the surface of the moon, or why a certain pair of villains teamed up at the end of the game? You'll most likely be happy with the explanations the developers have come up with.

"But first I'm gonna dive into my pile o' money!"
DuckTales Remastered isn't just the five original levels of the NES game. To further add some longevity to the game and to iron out story elements, there are two brand-new areas within the game. The first serves as an introductory level, bringing players up to speed with the basics of how Scrooge McDuck controls. The second replaces Scrooge McDuck's return trip from the original DuckTales to Transylvania for the final showdown of the game. Instead, the level takes place in Mount Vesuvius, and it feels just as well made as every other level in DuckTales Remastered.

It's certainly (and literally) a jungle out there.
As for the returning levels, these have been altered slightly. These are welcomed changes that make levels play out much better than the NES original. In said original, one could simply stumble into a boss's lair without doing any thorough exploring of a typical level. In DuckTales Remastered, there's a various goal in each level that Disney's billionaire duck needs to take care of before moving onto the boss. For instance, in the Amazon, Scrooge must acquire eight ancient coins to lead him and Launchpad to the temple where the treasure rests. Meanwhile, in Transylvania's haunted castle, Scrooge needs to rescue Huey, Dewey, and Louie from their captors.

Alongside completing these mandatory tasks, players can stumble upon treasure and riches just like in the original DuckTales game. This added encouragement to explore levels is much appreciated, and it makes for a longer game that never at all feels like simple padding. Every jewel and treasure collected adds up to a tally once Scrooge returns to the hub, his office. The money earned isn't just for show; it's an in-game currency as well, used to purchase character profiles, concept art, and music. Unlocking all goodies will take a few play-throughs to complete, and with the game's multiple difficulty levels, replaying this relatively short game remains fun.

Look high, low, and everywhere in
between for treasure!
Scrooge McDuck retains all of his nimble platforming and offensive tricks, the most notable being his trademark pogo routine,. This allows him to continuously bounce up and down, off the heads of enemies, and even on spikes. For classic purists, there's an option to keep the old school pogo controls (i.e. holding the d-pad down as the pogo button is pressed). However, harder difficulties require this control setup. Also with his cane, Scrooge can swing and hit rocks, blocks, and open treasures. In the Transylvania level he can even smack the iron ball attached to a mummy's ankle to have it plow into the enemy, defeating him.

"Thanks for the assistance
in practicing me pogo technique!"
If there's one issue that many will find with DuckTales Remastered, it's that the game constantly interrupts the gameplay for story sequences. These generally happen when Scrooge comes across a dead end or comes across an item necessary for progression. These can be skipped, though, and they are highly entertaining, as the dialogue is full of funny banter between characters, and true to the cartoon and its characters. It's simply that the need to pause the game and skip the cinematic for replays of the game can get tiring to some. It didn't bother me per se, but it's something to be wary of for prospective players.

These guys wouldn't even make
it in the peewee leagues.
As if the game itself wasn't wonderful, the visuals of DuckTales Remastered are nothing short of sensational, too. The formerly 8-bit sprites of the NES game have been updated with an incredible level of detail in animations and now look absolutely true to the cartoon. Levels have 3D foregrounds while the backgrounds are a 2D delight. Playing the game, I felt like I was controlling a genuinely faithful recreation of Scrooge McDuck in a highly animated and alive cartoon world.

And with a tip of his hat, the
enemy explodes at Scrooge's will.
...Okay, maybe the robo duck did that.
What further helped me grasp the dedication to the legitimacy of the cartoon is the return of the original cast, reprising their roles and sounding like they had never been on a two decade-long hiatus. The music has been recreated with new instruments and sounds really well done, but if you do get misty eyed for the original 8-bit themes, you can unlock them once you've beaten the game. All of this adds up to a game that represents the classic DuckTales cartoon in fantastic form.

The boss battles feature some creativity
that is very much appreciated!
WayForward's team has gone beyond the call of duty to make DuckTales Remastered a faithful tribute to not just the NES classic, but also to the Disney cartoon. The gameplay remains relatively unchanged, but the altered in addition to the brand-new levels gives new twists to a game that's familiar for many twenty-somethings on up. If you're new to the game, Remastered also shines in that regard. It's not nostalgia that makes DuckTales Remastered great. It's the tried and true gameplay, characters, and mechanics that keep Remastered from feeling dated. All in all, DuckTales Remastered is a game that will make most players go "Whoo-hoo!"

[SPC Says: 9.0/10]

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