If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…
As a retro gamer, it’s gradually becoming clear how many great games I have missed out on over the years. Back in the late 80s/early 90s, I was firmly in the computer gaming camp, so a lot of console-exclusive stuff (like the original Duck Tales on the NES) passed me by. Thankfully, thanks to remakes, like Duck Tales Remastered from WayForward Technologies on the PS3, I can put right those mistakes of the past.
It’s not hard to see why Duck Tales (the original) regularly features in lists of the top NES games. It might be 25 years old, but the core gameplay remains strong. If you look at it too closely, it’s really just another Mario-style platform game – but like Mario, it’s a game for all the family. Children will love the larger than life cartoon graphics, whilst for adults there’s a decent enough game behind the cartoonish veneer.
You play as Scrooge McDuck and must venture out across the globe to thwart the Beagle Boys, Flintheart Glomgold and others, whilst collecting jewels and a number of treasures. Needless to say, the various levels are packed with creatures who want to turn you into a duck pancake, but armed with your trusty umbrella, you can pogo on their heads to kill them; a move which also allows you to reach otherwise inaccessible areas.
Whilst the levels mostly boil down to the same thing (explore and find an object, followed by a boss encounter to finish), the different settings (Himalayas, an African Mine, the Moon) makes sure each level has a different enough feel to it. The fact that you can approach the levels in any order (and go back to discover new areas once completed) also makes the game feel a little less linear than it really is. Levels are nicely constructed, with the maze-like levels being sufficiently devious to make you plan your way through, but not so labyrinthine that they require endless, frustrating backtracking.
As you’d expect from a remake (particularly one handled by WayForward), the presentation is excellent. The characters capture the look and feel of the comics/ cartoon perfectly and the various backgrounds also look great. Sound is excellent, with the voice cast from the original cartoon reuniting to provide the main voices (including Scrooge McDuck’s dodgy Scottish accent!) and a variety of toe-tapping tunes accompany each level. Cut-scenes are humorous and well-animated, although it’s frustrating that in order to skip them you have press Start then select Skip this Cut scene rather than (for example) just pressing the X button.
Controls are beautifully tight, giving you excellent control over your character and the moves you need to memorise limited. This doesn’t restrict what you can do; rather it gives the game a simple pick-up-and-play appeal all too often missing from more modern games which require the player to recall 370 different context sensitive controls whilst under attack from alien hordes.
If there’s a criticism, it’s that Duck Tales Remastered is a little shallow and won’t take the average gamer that long to complete. With only 5 stages (none of which are especially challenging), it’s not the longest game in the world and the £11.99 download price doesn’t look the best value for money. It probably took me (an average gamer at best) less than 10 hours. True, there is additional content to be discovered and various unlockables to buy with your jewels, but once I’d finished the main story, I felt no real compulsion to go back and do it again.
That said this is the sort of game where longevity is less of an issue because what is there is a lot of fun. Against my expectations (I have a dislike of all things Disney) I really enjoyed Duck Tales Remastered. It’s a well-constructed platform game, and it’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into making it both accessible and fun. In fact, apart from the longevity issues, it’s hard to find too many faults.
Duck Tales Remastered is another of those games that reminds us that sometimes the simplest games are the best. If you don’t like Duck Tales Remastered, you probably shouldn’t be gaming.