Growing up, I spent many an afternoon at my Oma and Opa’s house watching cartoons after school. Talespin, The Real Ghostbusters, and Rescue Rangers were all enjoyed, but the show I found myself watching most often was Duck Tales. It was my favorite part of the day that didn’t involve ice cream or cookies. When the video game came out for the NES, I played it, but for some reason, I never finished the game.
When Capcom announced recently that they were releasing a remastered version of this classic game, fully updated for the modern generation, I got hit by a wave of nostalgia so large that it did something large waves do or something. At the same time, I was worried. Could the remake do justice to the original? And while I’m at it, why did I never finish the original? Well, one thing led to another, and the next thing I knew, I was sitting down, NES controller in hand to replay the original before putting the remaster through its paces. One thing struck me almost immediately. The game was hard. Mind-blowingly, unutterably, fist-shakingly, controller throwing hard. Seriously. It took less than five minutes for me to begin hurling vile imprecations at the screen. Still, I gamely tried, again and again to get past the first stage of the game. I even put it on easy mode, thinking that would speed things along. Nope. I got maybe a half a level farther that way. For all that, the game kept pulling me back in for just one more try. Never managed to finish it though.
The remastered version manages to be both a faithful reproduction of the original game and an improvement on it at the same time. The original five levels are all there, with beautifully rendered environments and the same cane-pogoing action that you remember from yesteryear, but the controls seem considerably tighter. Far fewer instances of me yelling “I pressed JUMP, you stupid game!” on the updated version. I still missed my share of leaps, but they were pretty much my fault. The characters have been redone as well, with a cell shaded look that seems ripped directly from the show.
In addition to the five remastered levels, the development team has added a tutorial level and a final boss level, which do a good job of explaining why Scrooge and pals are traipsing all across (and off of) the globe in search of these rarities. The music has also been updated to sound more like the cartoon. Even better, all of the original voice actors have reprised their roles for the game. Additionally, you can unlock concept art, character sketches and other goodies by using the cash you make in the game. You’re not going to be able to unlock everything in one playthrough, so completionists can expect to play the game through several times.
The game itself is still a timing based platformer, which can be difficult. On normal mode, you get three lives, but a death will take you back to the beginning of the level. This can be a little frustrating, especially if you spent ten or fifteen minutes getting to a point, only to miss a jump or get hit by one baddie too many and get sent back to do it again. If you find yourself getting ready to hurl your controller (which you totally shouldn’t do since those things cost fifty bucks or more), switch to Easy mode. Unlike the NES version, where easy mode just meant enemies did half damage, in the new version, it gives you unlimited lives, and if you die, respawns you at the beginning of the section, rather than taking you all the way back to the beginning of the level. Personally, and hard-core gamers may sneer at me for this, I prefer the easy mode on this one. The game is still challenging, but without being frustrating. Purists will want Normal or Hard mode though, to get as close to the original experience as possible.
All in all, this game is several hours of nostalgic good fun. At $14.99, you can pick it up for PC via Steam, or on PS3 via the PSN store. Either way, I highly recommend this one.
Beautiful update of a classic game
Excellent sound and character design
Controls can still be twitchy in places
Old NES style gameplay restrictions may frustrate newer gamers.
As an added bonus, here’s a video of the theme song, as read by Sir Ian McKellen (or at least a guy who sounds a lot like him).