Disney's DuckTales review
Duck Tales! Woo-hoo!
Franchises, cartoons, poems and movies are not all doomed to have shitty games based off them. Even if the likes of Karate Kid and Friday The 13th have horrible NES games based off such great movies, that doesn't mean that everything shown on TV is going to have a cruddy port onto a video game system. How would I know this? Because Duck Tales kicks the living hell out of every licensed game known to mankind, even the other good ones, and has enough juice to run two games of Crysis at the same time, all the while playing a game of Solitaire whilst they load. That's not an exaggeration either, that's the cold hard truth. In short, Duck Tales is freaking kick ass!
Not much of a story is told, though if you're a fan of the cartoon, you'll eat up whatever there is of it like tasty cakes. It's...your typical episode of Duck Tales where Scrooge McDuck explores the world and the moon just for some more money. Great, like he needs more! Oh well, he's a greedy bastard, what else would you expect... Much like a typical episode, he goes to great lengths to get them. In this episode, he explores a jungle, a haunted house, a mine, a snowy mountain and the freaken moon! Funny thing is that he can breathe while on the moon... Eh, screw logic - Nintendo sure do.
In terms of how Duck Tales plays, it plays like your typical platformer where you run around and jump across platforms while navigating through obstacles, best challenging puzzles and fight the odd monster that gets in your way. Your only defense against these monsters is Scrooge's trusty cane, which can actually turn into a pogo stick if you jump, then hold down and B on the controller. I'm guessing he can't just jump on them as his ass isn't as lethal as Mario's gigantic one. Unfortunately for Scrooge, the pogo stick is his only means of offense. His cane isn't going to be doing much else, though he can use it to get more height in his jumps and navigate through spikes on the ground. In other words, once you get the hang of the pogo stick, you can pretty much zip through the game while bouncing on it about 90% of the time.
However, its not all about getting from Point A to Point B and defeating the boss at Point B. If it was, the game would be extremely short, and believe me, its short enough as it is with the one thing that separates it from Mario besides the pogo stick - the true main objective... MONEY! Each of the treasures you find on each level gives you more money, but to find it, you have to either break stuff, kill enemies or just jump around, hoping some treasures appear. The main aim is to get the main treasure after defeating the boss, which gives you $1,000,000, but in order to get the good ending, you need $10,000,000. The 5 main treasures doesn't quite add up to that, so you have to do a whole lot of looking around. There are secret treasures which add a million to your total, but there are only two and they can be a bitch to find unless you either have a walkthrough or experiment frequently, but that's not that bad - it just forces you to explore more, and believe me when I say that its a good thing. It makes the experience longer, and as its such a fun game, who doesn't want that?
Scrooge isn't invincible, though. 3 hits from anything remotely hostile or falling down 1 pit will send him straight to the nearest slaughterhouse ready to be eaten, though you do have a few lives to fall back on, so its not all harsh reality. What is, is that you only have 1 continue, so if you lose all of your lives, that's it, game over, families get to eat tonight! However, it all balances out as there are only 5 levels and once you get the gist of what's going on (which shouldn't take too long), they should be pretty easy to get through.
Designs of each of the levels are both unique and samey. At their core, they're about the same. Jump over this, kill this and that, navigate that obstacle, go down this cave, BLAH, but when you look into them, they are different not just graphically, but also in the sense that there are different sorts of secrets, tricks and traps within the levels. Either way, they are all designed very well. They're designed to force you to keep an eye out for hazards or just try and challenge you (especially the haunted house), while remembering that they're meant to be from Point A to Point B.
Within the levels have Scrooge's nephews and niece, Mrs Beakly, Gizmo, Bubba and Launchpad. The kids will offer advice on where to get money or how to get through the level, while Mrs Beakly will give you some food if you're low on health (which you can also find if you jump around or kill enemies, just in case you're a little low on health - remember, 1 continue is all you get), and Launchpad can either take you across a gap that was too far to reach via pogo, or take you back to the level select screen. As for Bubba and Gizmo, they just help you get past some obstacles in the game. It just feels more faithful to the license and makes it feel more like Duck Tales than some generic platformer with Scrooge McDuck. Pretty good.
At the end of a level, there is a boss. Like most bosses in an NES game, they have a specific pattern that you have to memorize, while memorizing the timing of when to hit them and blahblah typical boss affair. They're good and they included one of those slugs from the episode Earthquack as well as Magica De Spell as bosses to make it feel even more like Duck Tales, but all the bosses just felt a bit too easy by my standards.
Much like the boss battles, the graphics and sound effects, although well executed, won't be winning awards any time soon, at least not on their own. Maybe if with Duck Tales, they would, but on their own, nah. The graphics look pretty good and you'll be able to recognize the characters with fine detail (at least as far as 8-bit goes), while the sound effects just keep your ears interested once you hit an enemy or something. But the one thing your ears will love is the soundtrack. A majority of the soundtrack is original material and destroys every other 8-bit soundtrack. The two tracks everybody will recognize is the 8-bit rendition of the theme song, and the song that plays for the moon level. The 8-bit remake of the theme song sounds heaps awesome, way better than that 8-bit Ghostbusters theme song, and makes you want to listen to it for a long time, though that's how the entire soundtrack feels. If there was going to be a best-of NES album, all of this game's songs are to be on it. Compared to this game, unless your name is Journey To Silius, your soundtrack sucked... Seriously, you just can't touch this soundtrack...
In the end though, even with all the exploration, it still feels short. It's only 5 levels long, and even though a level can take ages if you want to find EVERY treasure, if you just want to finish and get the good ending, it shouldn't take too long, not even on the highest difficulty setting. I'd say, unless you're completionist and want to find every treasure and get all the money that there is in the game, you should have it beaten in a weekend. Might not be that bad, but to me, it feels like you're having a lot of fun, then it suddenly ends at the fun part. Feels kind of bad, eh? Well, at least you'll feel more compelled to replay it, wouldn't you?
Short form guys:
Basic platforming at its finest. The fact that you had to find heaps and heaps of money before getting to Point B was definitely a nice twist and made the game feel much longer, since it only had about 5 levels, plus...Scrooge's cane could be a pogo stick! That gets you like 20 points!
The pogo stick, or at least trying to use it to your advantage took time to get used to control-wise, but other than that, the controls are very solid and responsive.
...it was faithful to the license!
Everything feels finely detailed and is quite pleasing to the eye, at least as far as 8-bit graphics go. A little nitpicks though - two of Scrooge's nephews with green clothes at the start-up screen?
A definite highlight for Duck Tales has to be the soundtrack. Second only to Journey To Silius, but easily destroys other soundtracks. The moon song is especially full of win. Made me *bleep* uncontrollably more than once.
The game is chock full of secrets and stuff to exploit that it'd take many years to get all of the game's money, plus...there are 3 difficulty levels! You'll be at it for ages most likely.
While it starts tough, once you get the feel for Duck Tales, you'll have way too much fun with it. Bouncing around with your cane, getting more money, and best of all, anybody of any skill level can get into it. That, alone, is a 10/10 for the entire game.
Duck Tales is easily the best licensed game on the NES...actually, try one of the best that the NES has to offer. You'd be hard pressed to find a game as good as this for that system. Borderlines on perfection with awesome gameplay, tight controls and a sweet soundtrack to hum to. However, it's a little too short for my liking. If it had more fun stages, it would be perfect.
A definite 4.8/5.