Review by Seth Robison
Rama Rating 8 out of 10
Like “America” from West Side Story or the Mission: Impossible theme, there is an entire generation of humans who can’t, due to its irregular time structure, get the theme from the late 1980s animated series DuckTales out of their heads once its catchy beat starts up. Though there is a subset of that population who have it worse: those who played the 1989 NES adaptation of the series and were subjected to the theme’s even peppier 8-bit iteration that didn't stop at the show's title card.
It is a good thing then that Capcom’s twenty-five year old DuckTales game is still considered not only one of the best titles of that console generation, but is still near the top for best licensed game of all time. So it is a pleasant but not all together unexpected surprise that the new release DuckTales: Remastered, downloadable now for major consoles and PC, treads lightly in the shadow of its own reputation, respects the memories of a generation and adds only the touches one might except the original developers might have included if they’d had processing power that developer that WayForward Technologies (A Boy and His Blob (2009), Double Dragon Neon) has access to.
The most significant alteration in WayForward’s face-lift is the expansion of the game’s narrative. Where once there was just a simple narrative of progressing through stages collecting gems and bopping bad guys on the head, now each stage takes on the feel of a mini-episode of the old TV show as you guide the obscenely rich and greedy (but not heartless) Scrooge McDuck through ecologically diverse locations to battle redesigned bosses as part of a larger quest involving a recently discovered treasure map.
Though this expansion in storytelling can slow down the action (the plentiful cutscenes are skippable), the voice overs are performed by as many of the original cartoon’s voice actors that are still working/alive and are worth a listen for the childhood-transporting effect they’ll have on players. The Mouse House touch is also present in the game’s visual as the 8-bit sprites and basic overall look have been replaced with smoothly animated characters and 2.5D backgrounds that recall the visual treat of the 16-bit era of Disney titles like Aladdin and The Lion King.
DuckTales: Remastered also adds in a few of the modern touches that games can’t seem to live without anymore, including a brief new tutorial level, more difficulty settings and a concept art unlock system. The unlocks are powered by what was simply the game’s secondary objective: the collection of gems earned through diligent exploration which before only impacted the game’s ending.
In-game the platforming action is challenging and tight, the cane-based attacks (the pogo-jump and the golf swing) keep the player engaged in the action on screen at all times by forcing them to not only distinguish between a normal jump and an attacking pogo-jump, but in the case of the latter forcing the player to be constantly judging the consequences of each attack as a successful connection could send you bounding off into danger.
An altogether brief but entertaining adventure, DuckTales: Remastered will rekindle fond memories for older gamers and give a taste of old school platforming action to the uninitiated.