DuckTales: Remastered Review: Dive Into the Coin Vault

by David Sanchez August 27, 2013 @ 1:24 pm

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It’s important that I preface this review by letting you know that I never played much of the original DuckTales. Truth be told, I probably spent less than an hour playing that treasured NES title in my entire lifetime. I did, however, spend hours upon hours watching the old DuckTales cartoon, and because of that, I feel I have a strong connection with the series. I also believe that due to that same reason I was able to tap into my own nostalgic feelings and have a total blast with DuckTales: Remastered.

When you’re already ludicrously rich, there’s only one thing left to do: get even richer. Such is the case with Scrooge McDuck, the charmingly greed-fueled treasure hunter who’s almost like a nicer, feathered version of Wario. Alongside his great-nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie, good ol’ Scrooge embarks on a quest across five wondrous lands including the Amazon, Transylvania, and the Moon, each of which can be selected in any order. In between and during stages, you’re treated to some cutscenes that fill you in on what’s going on story-wise. Were these necessary? No. Do they get in the way? They could. Are they at least well-made? Actually, yes, they are. If you don’t care about the story bits, you can easily skip these sequences from the pause menu.

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If you’re a fan of the original game, the mechanics in Remastered should be instantly familiar to you. Scrooge can use his cane as a pogo stick to bounce around, tread over perilous terrain, defeat baddies, and uncover treasure. Additionally, he can also swing his cane like a golf club and send rocks flying into enemies or open chests that can’t be jumped on. It’s hardly a complex system, but it works well and makes for a highly intuitive experience.

In 1989, this was about as straightforward a platformer as you would expect. Now, though, a collectible-heavy element has been introduced to make it feel a tad more like a Metroidvania. Rather than just tasking you with going from one end of the level to the other, Remastered throws in several mandatory key items per stage, requiring you to explore, backtrack, and seek them all out to progress. It’s not tedious at all thanks to a map on the pause screen that shows the items’ locations, and it actually makes the adventure seem a bit lengthier.

If you’re playing on Easy, you get infinite lives, which means there are no repercussions if you die a bunch of times. Playing on Normal or higher, however, changes things up considerably and adds a pleasantly old school vibe to the game. If you die and exhaust all of your lives, regardless of where you are in any given stage, it’s back to the start for you. Some folks may not be too fond of this, but for someone like me who largely missed out on the original experience, this retro-flavored challenge makes the whole thing much more worthwhile and rewarding.

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The other big change is the new Hard Pogo option. Switching this to off means you only need to press the Square or Circle button to utilize Scrooge’s pogo cane while jumping, making bouncing off enemies’ heads a snap. Leaving this feature turned on makes it so that the experience stays true to the NES original, requiring you to press down on the D-pad along with Square or Circle to pull off the pogo move. Again, as someone who didn’t get to enjoy a lot what DuckTales was all about back in 1989, I found that leaving this slightly trickier option enabled made for a more faithful play-through.

WayForward tends to infuse a ton of graphical style into its games, and this particular platforming adventure is no exception. The game looks really good, with 3D backgrounds and objects popping out. Meanwhile Scrooge and his great-nephews are all rendered in a slick hand-drawn style that’s simply beautiful to witness if you were a huge fan of the old cartoons.

Speaking of the show, most of the original voice actors have returned to lend their talents here. Sure, the voices may sound a tad different these days, but it’s still pretty awesome to hear Alan Young, who’s now 93, dish out a fine Scrooge script. Hearing Huey, Dewey, and Louie say “Unca Scrooge” and reference their trusty Junior Woodchucks Guidebook also filled me with sheer joy and put a stupid smile on my face due to the sheer nostalgia of it all. Oh, and the music, which was handled by Jake “Virt” Kaufman, definitely does the original soundtrack justice and is fun to listen to.

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Remastered will take you roughly three hours to get through, which is actually kind of short. There are unlockables in the way of concept art and screens that you can purchase with the riches you accrue on your journey, but other than that, there’s not much else for you to spend extra time with. The inclusion of multiple difficulties is always nice, but it would’ve been cool if the NES DuckTales had also been thrown in for good measure. At $15, the price is a little steep, but diehard loyalists should have no trouble shelling out the cash for this trip back in time.

If you loved the old DuckTales game or the cartoon, it’s very likely that you’ll have a lot of fun with Remastered. I would also recommend the game to platformer lovers who never got the chance to try it out. As a fan of the genre and the DuckTales show, I couldn’t help but quickly become enamored with this remake. Its retro design could be a bit daunting for some players, and it’s almost criminally short, but if you care to take on a tough little platformer, you’ll see exactly why everyone made such a big deal about DuckTales all those years ago.

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