Published on August 22nd, 2013 | by Chris Scott1
DuckTales Remastered Review
Summary: If you are a fan of the original game and the television cartoon, DuckTales Remastered deserves to be played.
If you were to ask me what my favorite Nintendo Entertainment System games were, DuckTales would invariably be on that list. I have supremely fond memories of treasure hunting as the pogo-jumping Scrooge McDuck. Along with the early Super Mario Bros. games, it helped shape my life-long love of the platforming genre. I have built it up in my head as one of the best 2D platforming games I had ever played and have said as much over the years. DuckTales Remastered gives me the opportunity to relive those memories with a modern aesthetic, but sometimes you can’t go back.
Developed by Wayforward, DuckTales Remastered takes the classic Capcom title and gives it a shiny new coat of paint. The game is absolutely beautiful and looks like you are actually playing the hand-drawn animation cells of the beloved cartoon. Adding to the illusion of playing the cartoon, the game features authentic voice work from the original voice talent from the show. Hearing Scrooge McDuck chastise his nephews brought a smile to my face. Playing through the newly minted story of DuckTales Remastered made me feel like I was watching a long lost episode of the show.
Unfortunately, while the story fully works from a nostalgic perspective, it messes with the pacing I remember from the original game by introducing new elements that were not present on that version. Instead of being able to quickly run through each level, the story of the game forces Scrooge to explore the levels gathering items to progress the narrative. This does provide the opportunity to see all the great work Wayford put into the art, but in doing so the game loses some of its rhythm. It is a good with the bad kind of thing. Without these new pieces, the lost episode feeling wouldn’t be there but with them it lacks the authentic experience of DuckTales. Potentially more damning than the lack of an original authentic experience, is that this added gameplay time allows a glaring flaw in the remastered gameplay to come to light more often than it should.
My memory of DuckTales on the NES was that it was a tight-controlling experience. Duck Tales Remastered doesn’t match up to my memory, and worse, the standards I have come to expect from platformers in general. Button presses are fairly precise, but more than once my controller failed to register one, causing me to be put in a vulnerable situation with no chance of recovery. Considering the fact that DuckTales Remastered, like the original, is a fairly challenging and unforgiving sidescroller, unregistered button presses are something of a concern, and they simply shouldn’t happen in any platformer.
While it wasn’t a regular issue, the unregistered button presses gave me an overall lack of confidence in the accuracy of the controls and this seeped into my confidence navigating the levels proper. Worse, the lack of precision was exacerbated in the reworked boss fights. Wayforward went the extra mile in designing more engaging boss encounters, but when coupled with the sometimes less than perfect controls, I had less fun than I should have. Nothing is worse than struggling through a level to get to the area boss and then losing my last life because of a button press that went unregistered, forcing me to start the entire level over again.
When everything goes perfectly, and it often does, the game is a joy to play. But when things go bad, the game is more frustrating than it ought to be, and that is a shame. Somewhat less disconcerting than the spotty control issues, but still notable, is the odd collision detection Scrooge has with geometry. Mr. McD would sometimes float on an invisible edge or fall off a visible one. Fortunately, this rarely resulted in any untimely deaths and was more a weird quirk that offered up some funny visual moments.
Regardless of the gameplay issues and visual quirks, if you are a fan of the original game and the television cartoon, DuckTales Remastered deserves to be played. It really is like playing an episode of the show, and it comes packed with all sorts of unlockables chronicling the characters, television show and making of the game. The gallery in DuckTales Remastered is as close as one is going to come to a digital history book of the series and that alone is worth the price of admission.
DuckTales Remastered is not the masterpiece that I was expecting, and maybe that is more my fault than anything else. I built the original up as highly as I did, and maybe it wasn’t really ever as amazing as my 10-year-old self thought. But some blame needs to be placed on developer Wayforward as well, they properly mined the depths of my nostalgia making me think I was going to get what I actually wanted, my childhood in HD. But sometimes we just can’t get what we want.