DuckTales: Remastered Review
Posted by Simon Thornton
The original DuckTales waddled onto the NES in 1989, and for over twenty years, it has been remembered fondly by those that played it. But it isn’t just the game that has lingered in the darkest recesses of a generation’s memories, as so too has the television show. From the infectious theme song to the original voice actors, WayForward’s endearing DuckTales: Remastered is bursting with more nostalgic gold than Scrooge McDuck’s iconic vault. This re-release fuses the original game’s classic platforming gameplay with the style and storytelling of the aforementioned cartoon. Unfortunately, while a valiant effort, it isn’t a perfect retro reproduction.
When the original release first quacked onto store shelves, it – like many other NES games – had little in the way of narrative exposition, aside from the brief block of text that sat in the accompanying instruction manual. This updated edition, on the other hand, is peppered with cutscenes, which sadly break the flow of the gameplay.
Indeed, every few minutes, the platforming action is put on hold while the feathered protagonists jabber line after line of forgettable dialogue. You can skip these sequences, but doing so demands two button presses, rather than one. It sounds like a small complaint, but the irritation is accentuated by the nature of the game itself. You’ll have to replay levels over and over, and dashing through the cut-scenes takes time. As such, it’s a shame that these story sequences can’t be turned off entirely.
To be fair to the developer, it’s put a fair amount of work into the obtrusive clips. As mentioned, the original cast of the DuckTales television show has been assembled to breathe life into the adventure, but the dialogue is so dull that it will make you question the effort. A few jokes would have been nice – or anything to justify the narrative at all.
Fortunately, the refreshed art style is much more successful. Characters pop with Disney-esque polish, and painted backdrops combine to create the most immersive DuckTales experience yet. Sadly, the three-dimensional environmental layers look cheap and out of place, and will leave you pondering why the same slick two-dimensional visuals weren’t employed throughout the entire experience.
At the very least, the music is fantastic, boasting reworked versions of the original NES hits. These tunes will certainly leave you twerking like a duck in a disco, but it’s a shame that the original 8-bit tracks weren’t included, too. Unlockable content includes an array of concept art, sketches, and more, but sadly none of the classic audio.
Importantly, the gameplay is still fun, though. Pogoing around the colourful environments is as enjoyable as ever, and just as tricky – especially if you opt for the classic controls. There is a more streamlined option if you didn’t graduate from the school of Battletoads and Mega Man III, but the authentic mechanics are available if you want to relive your younger years.
There are some instances where the protagonist will refuse to descend from his pogo like the stubborn old bird that he is, resulting in cheap deaths that are made all the more infuriating when you’re forced to replay an entire level – and flip through the abovementioned cutscenes all over again. You can play on easy if you want to make the experience a little less maddening, but normal and hard options are available if you actively want to be roasted like a Thanksgiving dinner.
It will rekindle your love affair with the classic, but once the nostalgia fades, you’ll perhaps find your rose-tinted glasses removed. Twenty years is a long time, and the industry has moved on since the original release. It’s great that DuckTales: Remastered adheres to its roots, but it’s hard not to feel a little letdown by the manner in which the game has aged. Don’t go in expecting an experience on par with modern platformers, because this is not that.
To be fair, the developer has made some tweaks to the original – primarily to the boss fights. These have been expanded, and offer a fresh change of pace from the core gameplay loop. Unfortunately, there’s a section towards the end of the release that sees you racing against the clock, which is not only bugged – we had to hard reset our system to retry – but totally cheap, and a real dampener on the whole adventure.
The original release may not be as good as you remember it, but DuckTales: Remastered is an affectionate rendition that will be sure to pluck at your nostalgic heart strings. For those without a reference point, this may feel like a pretty but archaic platformer, but if you can get past the obtrusive cut-scenes, fans of the NES classic shouldn’t think twice about giving this a quack.