DuckTales Remastered (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], Wii U, Xbox 360)
Developer/Publisher: WayForward Technologies/Capcom
Released: August 13th, 2013 (PlayStation Network, Wii U eShop), September 11th (Xbox Live)
DuckTales Remastered is WayForward’s latest project, keeping one simple if daunting goal in mind: recreating the 1989 NES classic DuckTales game from the ground up in high definition, while keeping intact the elements that make it one of the most fondly remembered games in history.
No pressure, right?
Playing any of your old favorite 8-bit games is dangerous territory, as they’re rarely as good as you remember them. DuckTales holds up just fine, thankfully, which only makes a faithful recreation of the game’s core mechanics all the more important.
Having played through the original NES game and Remastered in quick succession, it’s easy to see that the proper justice has been done to the source material. The physics are identical, so the HD game fits like a beautiful old glove, even if you decide to “cheat” by allowing yourself to pogo jump with nothing more than a simple button press. Enemy placement and behavior will also be instantly familiar to those who have spent countless hours memorizing the 8-bit game.
The five classic levels all make a return, though they’ve all been slightly augmented. Each level now has certain items to collect before you can make it to the final boss, and while the levels in DuckTales have always been nonlinear affairs you’re now nudged towards exploring them completely. A map has also been added to the pause menu to keep anyone from getting lost, which is appreciated as well.
A couple of all-new areas have also been added. Before you can go to the level select, you have to play through a short tutorial level designed to get new players acclimated to pogo jumping and treasure hunting. More importantly, an entire level has been added before the final boss fight. It’s tricky, but nothing that the rest of the game doesn’t prepare you for.
DuckTales Remastered also offers some of the most well-presented reverence ever seen for a port of an older title. Replacing the pixel art are beautiful hand-drawn sprites that look and move as if straight from the cartoon — Scrooge is the right color and everything! — and they mesh surprisingly well with the 3D backgrounds and objects.
The music was arguably one of the bigger obstacles, as the original soundtrack is widely regarded as one of the very best from the 8-bit era; you can’t mess with perfection, after all. Faced with this rather tall task, Jake Kaufman didn’t try to reinvent the wheel, opting instead to keep the overall composition and adding just enough touches to make it sound like a modern production. The result is rather stunning, with the classic Moon theme being a personal favorite. If you’re an absolute purist, however, you’ll be able to revert back to the 8-bit soundtrack from the main menu.
What really pushes the presentation over the top, though, are the story and cutscenes that were built around the existing levels. If you ever wondered how everyone survived on the moon without wearing special gear, Remastered has an answer just for you. Voicing the characters in these scenes are the surviving cast of the DuckTales cartoon, including Alan Young reprising his role as Scrooge McDuck at 93 years old, and a couple of sound-alikes. It’s a real treat for those that grew up loving the show, although even the most avid fans will agree that they often break the pace of the game.
There’s no middle ground if you’re wondering whether to buy DuckTales Remastered. If you have any attachment to the original NES game or cartoon, WayForward have presented you with a no-brainer. Everything you loved in ‘89 is not only intact, but better than ever. A smorgasbord of unlockable art from the creation of Remastered and the show will also have you coming back for more. Many games try their hand at fan service, but few do it as well as this.
If you’re a younger player with little to no recollection of what made DuckTales special, there’s little for you despite how well presented Remastered is. As an NES platformer, DuckTales was never a lengthy title, and $15 for a two-hour romp is hard to swallow, even if you’re into retro-style platformers. The unlockable content may requiring multiple playthroughs to fully collect, but will only be a worthwhile carrot for the most dedicated DuckTales fans.
WayForward didn’t set out to endear new players to an old-school way of playing platformers, but to present an old favorite in the best possible light. As such DuckTales Remastered is successful, and everything that fans of the original could have hoped for.
Category: PlayStation 3