DuckTales: Remastered is nostalgia made into a videogame. Nostalgia’s etymology is something close to “the ache to return home”, and fulfills an apt description for DuckTales: Remastered. The core of the game is a good 8-bit platformer, returning to the roots or “home” of that particular genre. However, the game delivers just enough “ache” to players as well.
DuckTales: Remastered’s presentation is excellent. All of the characters are sprites that look like they stepped out of the DuckTales cartoon, and the hand-drawn sprites work great against the 3D background of the game. Movement is fluid, there are a lot of background events, stages are beautiful, and the colors are bright and bold. It really feels like the player is guiding Scrooge McDuck through an episode of DuckTales. The plot isn’t anything fancy. The story has been updated with lots of little voiced scenes to reinforce the feeling of participating in an adventure. Overall, the visual package is just short of stunning.
The audio is where the game really brings both the feel of playing through an episode and deep sense of nostalgia. Numerous voice actors from the TV show lend their talents to the game, bringing spot-on performances which can take fans back to their childhoods with a few words. The music – great updated renditions of already remarkable tunes – will most likely beckon fans of the original game back to their younger selves in a few beats. Sound effects are crisp, clear and distinct. Really, the sound team went all out for the title.
Additionally, any money earned in the game can go to towards unlocking a very impressive gallery of game artwork, music, and even TV art. One of the galleries features nothing but the characters and their in-game art with a corner devoted to the original game’s sprite work. It’s all very in-depth and well done, and would probably take around two runs of the game to purchase everything.
Level design is very much like the original as well. The levels are long enough to be a challenge, and thankfully short enough to not be a nuisance to the posterior regions during the inevitable replay after dying. Except the last level. For the most part, players will fly through the varied locations once the levels are memorized. And, as stated above, the levels are beautiful.
Gameplay is very much like the original. Players take Scrooge McDuck through seven levels, five of which can be played in any order. Scrooge is armed with his almighty cane, which he can use like a golf club to hit objects, or as a pogo stick to reach high places and jump on enemies for a takedown. Most of the time, the game plays pretty well and is enjoyable.
But now we’ve run out of pure nostalgia. And while DuckTales: Remastered has excellent presentation targeted at fans of both the TV show and original game, the question remains to be asked what does the game offer people who don’t care about either?
Players who lose all of their lives in a level must redo the entire levels. There are no checkpoints to continue from once all lives have been lost. This is a questionable design since the boss fights have had a major overhaul and are really fun while putting up a decent challenge. So while the levels may fall to rote memorization, a stage boss might wipe out a player and now the whole damn thing has to be tackled again. A continue function – even a limited one – would have been a much better implementation. The final level is especially bad, since after defeating the end boss two more timed and fairly difficult platforming segments await the player. Dying at these segments means the player has to start the last level all over again, and quite frankly this was a frustrating stain on an otherwise enjoyable game. At least all of the cutscenes can be skipped by pausing the game and hitting ‘X’ real quick.
What makes restarting worse is sometimes, Scrooge doesn’t deploy his pogo stick for whatever reason. After a transition from a previous screen, Scrooge occasionally stops for a split second – just enough time to muck up those last platforming bits or a timed jump elsewhere. And hit detection for enemies and environmental dangers is rather awkward and, though uncommon, inconsistent. For instance, pogo stomping a downed bat may cause Scrooge damage because more of the wing was targeted this time than a previous time. However, this most likely will not kill anyone until it happens in a boss fight or during the last two platforming segments; where the problem can become atrocious.
The game is short. An afternoon or evening is more than enough time for experienced players; a day at maximum for anybody new to the genre. And while the game promotes replay value through unlocking the gallery and giving players the ability to replay any stage after beating the game; there really is no need to do so. Once through, any player not hit with nostalgia will probably move on to the next game. And like the nostalgia value, the $15 price tag may seem a little high for what new players may see as a fairly basic game.
So what does DuckTales: Remastered offer players who do not succumb to nostalgia? A fairly solid day of experiencing an above average platformer with awesome presentation. The game will most likely go by too quickly before any of the control problems impact enjoyment too much, and in fact may only become truly noticeable during the game’s final moments. Fans of the cartoon and original game will love all of the improvements and visuals, and will most likely embrace the nostalgia. Everyone else will have fun and then move on.