“Smarter than the smarties and tougher than the toughies!”
So there I was in the wee hours of the morning. That means it was two-thirty in the a.m. for our American speaking readers. Despite the hour, I was determined, resolute, unstoppable. Dangling over a pit of unrealistically fast-rising magma, I had a few final ledges between me and the end of this game. A slip up now would cost everything. If I died now, I would be sent back to the title screen empty handed. I could somehow feel the heat of the digital volcano. Perhaps it was just my hands sweating worse than me on a run to Winchell’s.
Down to one life with no continues allowed, I leapt, arms wide open, into the empty air… and missed the very last jump of the game, plummeting into the lava and ruining my last chance at completing Capcom’s DuckTales: Remastered on extreme mode. I sat there for a minute, stunned. Maybe I even had an existential experience. Like, what was I doing? I had to work in the morning. If I tried again, forced to start over from the beginning of the game, I might just see the little icon that told me the ultimate trophy was mine. I also might see the sunrise. Of course, I decided against it and went and got some sleep. But the point is, I almost tried it once more, right then and there, and took on the extreme mode challenge with Scrooge McDuck all over again.
The beauty of DuckTales: Remastered is its sheer enjoyability. It is a wonderfully re-imagined revamp of one of the most beloved adventures of the 8-bit era. The whole experience can be summed up by the word “delight”. It was a delight to play it. It was a delight to master each of its difficulty modes. It was even a delight to miss that final jump and come back again the next day to try it all over from the beginning. It was like reliving the magic of the original cartoon series when I was ten and without a care in the world, certainly not waking up in a few hours to head off to work for corporate America.
DuckTales: Remastered not only takes you back to the simpler days of afternoon cartoons, but it also lets you relive the bread-and-butter of gaming: the platformer. It’s a genre that was built on the back of foreigners: the Japanese game designers, an Italian plumber, and here a Scottish duck. But DuckTales: Remastered embodies the genre with pride. Simplistic controls based on jumping hearken back to the golden age of gaming before expensive complex combos and advanced mechanics. You just gotta jump on the bad guyses heads. No brainer. But the simplicity, far from winding down into boredom, couldn’t be more fun. What’s more, all your platforming is kept company by lively, colorful backgrounds and crisp, dynamic 2-D sprites that look like they were cut straight out of the hand-drawn animation of pre-Pixar Disney.
The game’s simplistic story is a love letter to the 1%.
You are worth five billion, quintiplitilion, untuplatillion, multuplatillion, impossibidillion, fantasticatrillion dollars as Scrooge McDuck. Your sole objective in the game is to 1. not die, and 2. get more money. So pretty much everyone’s life-objective. The game is complete with a money counter in the upper right corner. You accumulate your filthy lucre as Scrooge by traveling to such exotic locations as Transylvania, the Amazon, the Himalayas and even the Moon. Yes, of course there are plenty of things for a rich person to take from poor people on the Moon.
This is another area in which DuckTales: Remastered succeeds: it’s all about making a horrifically rich and stingy old man richer and stingier, and yet you just are having too much fun to care. You see those shiny diamonds and want nothing more than to grab them to add to Scrooge’s overflowing money vault, safe from the grubby hands of all those charities and children’s hospitals. Feel bad. Feel bad about enjoying this game so much.
The 8-bit Review
Considering that DuckTales: Remastered is an updated version of the 8-bit classic, the emphasis is on the graphics. The game does not disappoint. While the bright backgrounds are rendered in 3-D, which at times felt a little like they belonged in the psONE library. Where it really shines is with its 2-D sprites. It looks like your playing an interactive cartoon with funny little animations, gestures and expressions. Magical.
The game’s soundtrack is iconic, fun and full of life. Besides for the OST, the sound effects are endearing and the voice acting is spot on. In fact, it’s the original cast from the tv show! Remember the theme song? Sure, you do. And now it’ll be stuck in your head the rest of the week. Woo hoo. The tunes are catchy and even better: you can opt to listen to the game’s soundtrack while you play in either remastered sound or original 8-bit whimsy.
Only complaint here is it takes a little while to get used to Scrooge’s pogo-cane attack, particularly with “Hard Pogo” turned on. Leaving it off can help you with that, but if you decide to attempt the extreme mode, you’ll need to push through the inevitable frustration of jumping onto an enemy’s head without the pogo activating because you weren’t quick enough. Further, the diamonds that appear out of thin air will slow you down to turn around and collect them. Besides for that, all of the controls are solid. Easy to learn controls, above average loadtimes, no freezing or glitching rounds out gameplay with a solid eight.
While there isn’t much of a story here besides for making sure that Mister McDuck remains able to afford the finer things in life, the game does draw upon the wealth of familiar and quirky characters, heroes and villains that the animated series created to inhabit the city of Duckburg and its world of anthropomorphic animals. This lends some much needed depth to DuckTales: Remastered in what would otherwise be a generic platformer with a bit of dialogue in it. But this is a DuckTales platformer. And that makes all the difference so far as story is concerned.
Hailing from an era where tutorials were a rare novelty and you had to figure out much of the gameplay on your own, DuckTales: Remastered boasts both hard and extreme modes with some severe handicaps like almost no extra lives or extra health or recovery items. Extreme mode means you have to play through the whole game in one sitting. The difficulty is strong with this one.
Despite its difficulty, this game pairs simplicity with gorgeous graphics and perfect audio. The result is a challenging game that you’ll want to come back to and play through again and again. There’s a reason for the excitement that surrounded this re-release of a beloved classic. Enjoyable through every playthrough. In fact, I think I’ll play it again right now!
Considering the game is both based on the cartoon series and it is a remaster of a previous game, the score for uniqueness really can’t be all that high. However, this feels like a different game than the original enough to earn a six. That, and the fact that it’s a game of anthropomorphic ducks and, like Scrooge, DuckTales: Remastered is monopolizing the market on games based on anthropomorphic ducks. Not too many of those floating around. He would probably sue them.
My Personal Grade: 9/10
DuckTales: Remastered was a pleasant and amusing trip back down memory lane, like Mega Man and Super Mario, a return to the golden age of both cartoons and platformers. I cannot downplay the simple enjoyability of this game in any way. I highly recommend it for its easy accessibility and charm. It has all the endearing qualities of Disney’s early, hand-crafted animation. It’s an homage to the late 80’s. It’s got everything that amounts to that elusive childhood sense of adventure: race cars, lasers, aeroplanes. Playing through DuckTales: Remastered will make you feel like a kid again. That’s a feeling few games can promise. It’s a feeling that gets rarer and rarer. But here you’ll remember that life is like a hurricane, a very enjoyable hurricane that you’ll come back to again and again for the ride.
Aggregated Score: 8.0