I have no nostalgia for DuckTales on the NES. I can’t; I’ve never played it. Like many other classic NES titles, such as Blaster Master, Kid Icarus, and Bionic Commando, since I never had a Nintendo Entertainment System as a kid and had limited access to cool kid neighbors with the console, I missed out on a lot. Thankfully, due to the industry’s love for remaking and re-releasing oldies and better access to ports these days, I’m catching up. Slowly. For example, I beat both Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake last year, tough as they got. I’m also progressing at a snail’s pace in The Legend of Zelda, but more on that in another post.
Alas, I don’t actually know and have to assume that gameplay in DuckTales Remastered is relatively the same as the NES original. Scrooge only has a few abilities at hand, such as jumping, pogo jumping, and whacking objects with his cane. All of these mechanics are relatively simple to use, though I am far from a pro at continuously pogo jumping from one side of the screen to the other; Scrooge often lands on the edge of a platform, causing him to, well, land, and put his cane away. Anyways, through these limited abilities, you’ll hop around a series of level, bouncing on the heads of enemies, unearthing treasure, and collecting whatever maguffin is needed to open up the level’s final boss.
From what I’ve read, it seems like all the original 8-bit levels from the NES days are here–Amazon, Transylvania, The Moon, etc. Except now they are remastered, which means they are colorful and cartoony and a little jarring at times. I found the juxtaposition of sprites and polygonal items (like that treasure chest in the image above) to be constantly at odds with one another. I mean, sure, it looks prettier than what came out in 1989, but I actually think screenshots for that dinosaur still hold up really well. If anything, I’d say more attention was paid in the remastered version on backgrounds, which really help sell the levels more. The Amazon looks and feels like a jungle opposed to some blades of grass and a bland blue sky. That said, while the levels look different, purists can probably breathe a sigh of relief as the map layouts are the same.
However, WayForward Technologies has added an actual story to what was, I’m assuming, a pretty lifeless story. Or totes nonexistent. Basically, Scrooge McDuck has to find five priceless artifacts. Why? Well, um, he’s a greedy ol’ man-duck. A map left behind after a failed Beagle Boy raid of his bank reveals five locations to scour. Despite a still paper-thin plot, there’s a surprisingly amount of cutscenes to get through, a few of which do feel unnecessary and invasive. Same goes for some of the cameos, though I could never say anything negative about Fenton Crackshell, also known as Gizmoduck. I understand the original voice actors returned to reprise many of the roles, and while that’s awesome, it didn’t result in great performances; Scrooge himself sounds tired, uninterested, and going through the motions.
At this point, I’ve only completed two of the five levels, specifically the Amazon and the Himalayas. I’ll get to the others soon, but I kind of have been just nibbling at DuckTales Remastered in-between using shivs on Clickers in The Last of Us and getting heavily back into Rogue Legacy thanks to it being one of this month’s free PlayStation Plus downloads. Money you earn in every level can be spent to buy concept art and soundtrack songs, as well as fill up Scrooge’s money bin to the brim; I’ve not felt inspired to purchase many pieces of concept art. I won’t get too far into here, but I’m generally of the mindshare that concept art is not a reward, not something characters should be unlocking or purchasing. It should be there, probably before the credits option. That’s it.
Maybe I’d be more gushing if I had played DuckTales as a wee lad and spent hours unearthing every single hidden gem, that this reheat of a much-loved classic was everything and then some, but no. I wasn’t very impressed with another remake as of late either–Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse. Perhaps developers need to reconsider the reasons behind taking older games and putting them in new clothes and ponder if it is worth all the dressing up or not. For DuckTales Remastered, so far, I’m thinking no.