DuckTales Remastered: Post-Script.
If anyone were to ask me who my favorite Disney character was, I would say without hesitation: Scrooge McDuck.
That’s within tough competition, up there with other personal favorites such as Jack Skellington, Tron, Stitch, Beast, Captain Jack Sparrow, Donald Duck, and Wreck-It Ralph. Scrooge is probably one of the most realized characters that the House of Mouse ever created (a good read of The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck will better state this point than I ever could).
DuckTales itself came out during the “Disney Renaissance” of the late 1980′s/mid 1990′s. This was an era of Rescue Rangers, Darkwing Duck, Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Lion King, and also included video game titles titles published by Sega and Capcom during the 8 and 16-bit eras. Sega had Castle of Illusion. Capcom cornered the shows of the Disney Afternoon…. And of course, DuckTales for the NES.
I got it for Christmas the year it came out, and completed it within a day. Despite its relative ease, I couldn’t stop playing it. Everything meshed so well about the title, from the colorful graphics, the catchy music, and the fantastic gameplay. It was a special time to be a gamer, and the HD re-release announced this year actually made my jaw drop. The original game reimagined with backgrounds done by the show’s artists, and the reunion of almost the entire cast, including 93 year old Alan Young as Scrooge? And as an Xbox player, I had to wait an extra month as this year’s surprisingly tepid “Summer of Arcade” wheezed to an end. But it came out last week, and I had a chance to finally sit down and play it.
So how is it?
There are three other updates/sequels/franchise extensions this generation that just hit me right in the nostalgia spot: Wii’s Punch-Out!!, the downloadable Mega Man 9, and Xbox 360′s Ghostbusters: The Video Game. There’s now a fourth.
DuckTales Remastered is about as good as it gets. The levels are redesigned, but feel as comfortable as they did in the original game. Graphics look straight out of the cartoon. Some of the rendered graphics seem slightly out of place, and may have been better suited for the 3DS to allow them to really “pop”, but the level of detail is fantastic. The animations of the characters are charming and full of personality.
The soundtrack is realized for what made it so enjoyable and then updated with a modern twist, losing nothing in the process. The music is something I’m going to have to hunt down, and while I don’t like dubstep (used sparingly in Transylvania) the inclusion is nothing I’d cry “fowl” (pun) over. The voice cast is…. What we get is the show’s full cast (save for the original voices for Mrs. Beakley and Fenton Crackshell/Gizmoduck, both who passed away, but they have respectable soundalikes). The kids are spot-on, Launchpad is still a heroic dimwit, and Scrooge, while just a little older sounding, just adds something indescribably special to the entire presentation.
Control is rock solid. I merrily bounced my way through levels as I once did, collecting treasure, and exploiting the game’s logic of finding treasure in mid air. Like Scrooge himself, I was obsessed with greed to find every possible diamond I could, and all but killed myself (and sometimes did) to get them. The only real complaint I have with the game is that sometimes the pogo jump just… stops. It’s not often and is more rare than you’d think, but it picks some weird times to just pull the metaphorical brake. Control otherwise is a dream. Bouncing from enemy to enemy to tiny platform made it feel like no time has passed from the original to present.
The game takes a few modern liberties. Scrooge’s in-game currency (not “pay to play”) is used to buy concept art, character designs, and music. There are two new levels added, which help to flesh out the game’s beginning and end, and don’t feel out of place. Scrooge can now dive gleefully through his coins in his money bin. And they now have plot elements added to explain the crazy locations and events that happen in the game. In the NES days, we never questioned some of the logic of how things came to be. The game attempts to put those seemingly random plot elements together, making each stage feel less like a level, and more like a separate episode of the show, each narrated by the original cast. WayForward even adds a few little extra game additions in the levels, like a airplane section in one level, and an anti-gravity moment in another. One could argue they are unnecessary overall, but it just helps to make everything feel more coherent to the plot events at hand.
The reviews and a lot of modern gamers have been particularly unkind to the matter of the voice acting, and I’m going to touch on that. When it was announced that the original cast was returning to voice Scrooge, Launchpad, the nephews, the Beagle Boys, and others. the internet practically exploded with excitement. Now presented in our hands, the internet has turned into one huge complaint fest, which I find immensely ungrateful for a number of reasons.
The cut-scenes ARE skippable.
Professional reviewers have omitted this point altogether in their write ups, and what has been mentioned acts like it is some behemoth chore. Press “Start” to get into the menu, then press the “A” button. That’s it. And if it’s genuinely that tiring, then perhaps a doctor’s visitation may be needed to check one’s energy levels. The cut scenes, as mentioned, do not happen every 5-10 seconds, and while they do pause the action, it is really no different that any other modern game that employs cutscenes in the storytelling. I’ve even read people raise issue about the quality of the jokes. The comics and show made some notablly intelligent and often educational mentions, but the source material is oft littered with outright corny puns and comments, and the Beagle Boys have always been as dumb as rocks. Their advantages have always been in pure tenacity and sheer numbers.
Basically, those complainers have dark hearts, and I don’t care to know them.
As two decades before, I beat the game in one day, and as I sat back and watched the credits roll, I felt something special, like someone opened a door to my childhood and let me treasure one of the joys from it. I was undeniably touched by the experience, and was left wanting more. There are replays, of course, and the need to earn more money to access the rest of the unlockables, but even without that addition, I’ve been going back to play levels again. And I expect again. And again after that. I loved Capcom as a company a long time back, and this reminded me why. This game, the Castle of Illusion remake, and Disney Infinity have given me hope about the future of Disney related gaming.
It’s not the “new” Scrooge McDuck adventure I (or even Warren Spector) wanted, but if they’re going to revisit Scrooge McDuck and company’s previous adventures, this is how it should be done. Now I can only hope this game does well enough to warrant a Chip ‘N’ Dale Rescue Rangers Remastered.
If you loved the old game and the show, this is a revisit to those afternoons after school, when life was like a hurricane. If you never tried the original or seen the show, it’s time to introduce yourself to Scrooge McDuck.