Over the last few years, there has been a true revival of the 8-bit era. From various re-releases of classic games like Mega Man, The Legend of Zelda, and even more cult hits like Kid Icarus, to purposefully derivative and inspired fan-service games like Retro City Rampage and Scott Pilgrim, interest in old-style gameplay is remarkably high. One of the most prolific titles from that old period was the Capcom classic DuckTales. Back in those days, when a developer had a pre-existing license in their hands, publishers and developers would usually get their top guys on the project – which is why they were so much better than their modern counterparts. However, for as good as DuckTales was, nobody would have ever thought it was due for a remake any time soon. With no other DuckTales property in circulation, love for the game is what drove DuckTales Remastered into existence.
In places, DuckTales Remastered is a perfect remake of the original NES classic. However, the transition to the modern era sees various changes added to the DuckTales formula. Exploration is a way bigger concept thrown around, rather than just toyed with in the original. You’ll be backtracking quite a bit. Usually this serves the purpose of finding different collectibles and hidden items. On top of new areas to explore, the game does a decent job of giving your health some padding in some of the more difficult spots. You’ll have bits of cake and other foods that will replenish your health on a fairly regular basis. This helps balance the game’s NES-caliber difficulty.
While difficult, the game does offer three different modes. The latter two difficulties are just like you remember on the NES – painstakingly difficult. This isn’t DuckTales Remastered’s fault so much as it is the original game’s. It was great, but didn’t quite reach the heights of Mega Man in his heyday. For what it’s worth, DuckTales Remastered is padded with a couple extra levels that sort of bridge all of the well-known levels into one not-so-coherent plot. The game lays the story out in a way that’s kind of bloated, but also blatant fan-service to the cartoon. Characters like Launchpad McQuack, the Beagle Boys, and even the superpowered Gizmoduck make returns that will put a smile on your face, guaranteed.
The biggest portion of DuckTales Remastered that caters to fans is the voice acting. All the voice actors of the DuckTales cartoon return for Remastered, making the game a treat for fans of the show and of the game. However, this also leads to a chunk of the complaints. Alan Young, the iconic voice of Scrooge McDuck, reprises his role. It’s pretty likely that WayForward got a little too enthusiastic about this, as Scrooge talks a lot. Not only in the questionable amount of cutscenes, but in normal platforming, too. It’s not annoying to a distracting level, since it is the one and only voice of Scrooge McDuck, but it can be grating if you’re just hopping around on his cane.
Remastered may be as hard as you remember, but the presentation is more beautiful than ever. The sprite-work looks gorgeous, which is fitting as DuckTales Remastered is in the hands of WayForward. From the Amazon to the Moon to Transylvania, the game looks great, even if the backgrounds aren’t as thrilling as what’s right in front of you. On top of that, the much heralded soundtrack has been given a solid upgrade as well. All the tracks sound great, with (unsurprisingly) The Moon theme taking the top spot as my favorite song off the soundtrack.
The biggest factor when it comes to DuckTales Remastered is that it’s hard to say who it’s actually for, outside of retro game or DuckTales enthusiasts. Unless it’s the easiest difficulty, kids today would probably find it too difficult to play, and have no frame of reference for what DuckTales is. A modern gamer looking for a retro-inspired challenge may find solace in Remastered, but for anyone else, the $15 price makes this package hard to fully recommend. Sure, you can tally up all that went into it – all of which would probably justify the price tag – but for the player, it all depends on how much you like DuckTales. Of course, if you’re new to the 8-bit revival, give one of the greats a shot!