DuckTales Remastered: review

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  • Format: Wii U eShop (version reviewed), PSN, XBLA, Steam
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Capcom/Disney Interactive/Nintendo (Wii U)
  • Developer: WayForward/Capcom
  • Players: 1
  • Site:

The original NES release of DuckTales was notorious for being (a) very good, and (b) very, very difficult. Yes, DuckTales – released during a generation where almost every game released was more difficult than the average 21st Century title – was well known for giving gamers a hard time. Its memory has been preserved in the warm fuzzy spot of many a twenty/thirtysomething’s heart however, and so it is that we now have this updated version. Just how distorted is the game’s appearance when viewed through rose tinted specs?

First of all, it’s important to stress that this isn’t exactly the same game. ‘Remixed’ would have been a more appropriate suffix than ‘Remastered’. Yes, despite being given a very professional and attractive polish, the skeletons of the graphics and sound remain largely unchanged. Little tweaks and additions are sprinkled throughout the experience, however; most noticeably the boss fights have been tickled to improvement, and there are two brand new levels (which are actually trickier than the originals). Kudos also to those responsible for giving the game a full voice track – with the original voice actors.

For those unfamiliar with the game, DuckTales is a platformer based on the now sadly defunct Disney cartoon series of the same name. All you really need to know here is that you control Scrooge McDuck, a duck with seemingly limitless wealth who is always looking to be richer still. So it is that you’ll travel the world (and pop to the moon) in search of legendary treasures, each of which is invariably guarded by someone or something you’ll need to keep bopping on the head until you win.

Duck! Also, Snake! Bee!

Said head-bopping is achieved via McDuck’s pogo stick. This, in fact, was the source of much of the original’s difficulty – and frustration. 8 bit gamers had to jump in the air, then hold a button and a direction in order to pogo. This is thankfully fixed for Remastered – just jump in the air, then hold the appropriate button to bounce around to your heart’s content. You can revert to the original method on harder difficulties if you desire authenticity/pain and suffering.

There are three difficulties, with Easy being roughly equivalent to 2013’s Normal. Checkpoints and a map soften the blow of the challenge considerably, without making the whole thing insultingly easy. Normal and Hard limit your lives, and losing them all means restarting the current level from the beginning (the game saves after each completed level). It does emphasise the awkward balancing act WayForward were faced with, though – this is not a big game. The levels may be very well designed and great fun to play through (there are hidden areas to find and basic puzzles to solve as well as the then-obligatory jumping on heads) but there are only seven of them. Some people will play this through start to finish in an afternoon, and never go back.

Make no mistake, this is a game which leans with most of its weight on nostalgia for its appeal. It’s likely that only those with fond memories of the TV series and/or the game will keep coming back after finishing the game once. Finishing a level (thereby grabbing the legendary treasure) nabs you a million dollars of in-game cash, but there’s plenty of extra dollars to be had by grabbing diamonds of various sizes during play. This is used to unlock art relating to both the game and the series in the extras menu – and there’s stacks of it. So much, in fact, that multiple playthroughs are necessary in order to see everything. This will be anything but a chore for DuckTales fans though.

You can even have a swim around in the money bin. Utterly pointless, but a welcome touch.

We played the Wii U version, which plays the game on the TV and the gamepad in tandem. This is a little distracting in terms of sound – we quickly muted the pad. This also means of course that it supports off-screen play. Everything’s perfectly proportioned for gamepad play, and the already lovely-looking graphics are better still when all the detail is squished together on a smaller screen.

With refined gameplay and lovingly updated graphics & sound (which still retain some retro charm), fans of the source material can’t possibly be disappointed here. Those who have never heard of DuckTales before will find a fun and, on harder difficulties, very challenging game – though perhaps not one that they’ll get a great many hours of play from. Here’s the most important detail of all though: the infamously catchy theme tune from the TV series is played, in full, over the end game credits.

What are you waiting for?

critical score 7

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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