Greetings, retr0pians. With Zootopia (Zootropolis for any of my British readers out there) being released to critical acclaim as of late, I thought it would be a good idea to devote the entirety of March to licensed games based off various Disney properties. And what would be a better way to start off this little Disney-thon of mine than to take a look at what is considered by many to be one of the very few good games based off an already existing property, the 1989 platform game DuckTales?
Based off of the beloved cartoon series and developed by Capcom, the game’s story revolves around the greedy but well-meaning Scrooge McDuck as he travels throughout the world with his nephews and his sidekick Launchpad, as they attempt to outwit Scrooge’s rival Flintheart and increase Scrooge’s fortune. But is there truly more than there is to this game, or is it just another unfortunate case of nostalgia-covered glasses? Let’s find out, shall we?
THE LOOKS – Being based off of a Disney show, it can’t be denied that the game’s visuals look pretty decently done. Each level, wether it be the amazon, Translyvania, or even outer space, have a colorful asthetic and are all varied. But the problem is, because it’s an NES game, it really doesn’t give me alot to talk about. Don’t get me wrong, the graphics are still good, but compared to the consoles that have came afterwards, the NES’ graphics are rather simplistic and don’t really require alot of detail. Of course, it’s probably just an acquired taste.
THE SOUND – With a show fondly remembered by show many just by its theme song alone, the game definitely has some big shoes to fill in the audio department. And my god, does it fill those shoes well. Composed by Hiroshige Tonomura, every single bit of music, from the 8-bit remix of the show’s theme to ALL of the stage themes are simply unforgettable. They all really bring you into the enviroments, making them feel alive and very treacherous. Then again, I can’t say that I’m suprised by the music being great – it is Disney, after all.
Ducks! Yes, ducks in outer space…
THE GAMEPLAY – One noteworthy thing about this game is the fact that it, along with many other Capcom-developed Disney Afternoon games, runs on the NES Mega Man engine. And with how the gameplay itself fares in mind, I can definetely see that. In a normal licensed game, the designers would normally just slap together things with no cohesion and no direction, resulting in something not very enjoyable to play. For a good example of this, check out my reviews of TTA: Buster’s Hidden Treasure or The Flintstones. Thankfully, like Turtles in Time, that is not the case here. Not unlike Puggsy which I reviewed previously, the game allows you to explore the enviroment around you despite the (rather reasonable), time limit, and rewards you with extra lives, health, and treasure. You can also defeat your enemies and solve puzzles with your cane, which can be used as a pogo stick or to knock over blocks and other items. There are also three possible endings you can gain depending on how you played the game: a normal one for just finishing the game, a good one for finding all of the treasures and $10,000,000, and a bad ending for finishing the game with $0. The levels themselves are also designed very well, requiring you to really use your platforming skills and wits. Unfortunately, just like the music, I don’t really have much to say here.
THE BOTTOM LINE – DuckTales offers a great soundtrack along with well-programmed gameplay, but is too simplistic for its own good. Those who love the show and are classic video game historians will most likely enjoy it.