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DuckTales: Remastered Review

It’s a fanservice, laddies!

Release Date: Aug. 13, 2013 for PS3, PC, and WiiU. Sept. 11, 2013 for Xbox 360.

Price: $14.99

 

I don’t go to bars much, but when I do, it has to be worth it. In this instance, I was attending a retro game tournament.

As a contestant played his turn, an old familiar tune rang out from the bar’s PA system. The first nine notes of the song were unmistakable, and the bar’s patrons all paused to hear it.

And then, smiles crept by everyone’s faces. And the lyrics kicked in.

Life is like a hurricane here in Duckburg…

And the 20+ people at the bar that night started to drunkenly sing along.

Call it nostalgia. Call it a good memory. Call it drunken revelry. Call it whatever you want, but the folks that night knew every single word to the theme of DuckTales.

You cannot buy that kind of nostalgic overload, but Capcom and WayForward are hoping you will with this week’s release of DuckTales: Remastered – a remake of the classic NES platformer.

Folks who enjoyed the original – such as myself – are going to find plenty to like here, but is it enough to justify the $14.99 price tag?

Well, that’s a tough decision to make. Let’s take a further look.

 

THE STORY

You play as Scrooge McDuck, the Richest Duck in Duckburg and one heck of a miserly, self-absorbed guy. Seriously. He swims in piles of his own money.

Scrooge’s mission is to collect five of the world’s most valuable treasures in order to increase his already burgeoning wealth; pretty simple stuff. After all, NES games like this weren’t necessarily known for having complex, in-depth storylines.

But if the story is wrapped tightly into a game with superb game play, detailed graphics, and easy-to-understand controls, then you most likely didn’t care about a game’s story back then.

That remains the case in this remake.

 

THE GAME PLAY

If you played the original version of this game until your fingers bled, then you’re going to seamlessly step into this one like it’s 1989 all over again.

But that’s also a problem. There are very few surprises for folks who have already experienced this game.

While WayForward has done a commendable job of trying to give those people more by adding two additional levels and expanding the original levels, there is one thing that continuously gets in the way of the game’s pace: the cut scenes.

These dialogue-heavy moments of exposition often come right in the middle of the level and start really getting in the way in the Transylvania level. You can thankfully skip these cut scenes in the pause menu, but it actually becomes a chore to have to do that after a while.

I honestly believe the cut scenes that book-end each level would have been sufficient.

As for the game as a whole, you’re probably going to barrel through it in about 2 to 3 hours. In an attempt to squeeze a bit more juice from the fruit, the developers added a boatload of unlockable extras. Multiple play-throughs will be necessary to unlock everything.

 

THE GRAPHICS 

Perhaps the first thing that will strike you about the game is the way it looks. Simply put, playing this game makes you feel like you’re watching a lost episode of the series. I was highly impressed with the redrawn character sprites and animations.

WayForward’s studious character designers obviously watched a ton of the series for research into the way each character looked and emoted.

 

THE CONTROLS

Here’s where the game goes off the rails a bit. My biggest gripe from playing the original game was the control of the pogo cane. I never thought the controls were tight enough considering the amount of precision needed to accurately kill enemies with the cane.

My hope with the remake was that WayForward would find a way to remedy this once and for all. Unfortunately, the almost 24-year-old game with a brand new coat of paint still has the exact same issue.

You can jump directly above an enemy, hit the down and Square button to activate the pogo cane and nothing will happen. This is a huge issue when you’re playing the higher difficulties where you have to be as tight-fisted and conservative with your health as possible. Trust me, you will take hits that you shouldn’t be taking because of the finicky controls.

MUSIC AND SOUND

Jake “virt” Kaufman. Wow. If you haven’t heard this guy’s name before, I suggest you begin Googling him as soon as you’re done reading this.

Kaufman is, perhaps, one of the premiere chiptune artists working in the industry today. To get him for a project like this is a perfect match.

Not only does Kaufman pay respect to the game’s original soundtrack, he manages to make it all his own. As you start the game, you’ll hear the first notes of the NES soundtrack creep in as a simple nod to the original game, but Kaufman quickly brings in some of the blaring horns from the original series theme to compliment his arrangement.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Moon theme. I’ve had several people tell me if the Moon theme doesn’t sound exquisite, then the game is a non-starter for them. Those folks can rest assured. The Moon theme, once again, is one of the soundtrack’s high points; it’s so good that Kaufman even brings it back for the game’s ending credits.

Soundtrack gushing aside, the game also boasts voice acting from nearly every single voice actor from the original television series.

However, I find a lot of the acting to be merely average. The voices for two characters in particular actually ended up bothering me more than entertaining me: Scrooge McDuck and Magica De Spell.

When I first saw preview videos for this game, I noted Scrooge’s voice sounding a bit…off. The guys over at Giant Bomb also noticed it, saying Scrooge sounded “tired.”

Then I researched it further. The voice actor for Scrooge, Alan Young, is 93 years old. Phew, I got tired just thinking about that.

As for the voice of Magica, I could hear a bit of a slur in her voice that became more pronounced as the game went on. It appears that June Foray, the voice of Magica, is 95 years old.

Say what you want to about Young and Foray being the definitive voices of those two characters, but I actually wonder if the game would have been better served if they had casted younger talent who could still pull off the voices.

Despite those two, I had no issue with the other voice actors as they sounded the same as they did 20 years ago.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

As I first started to play this game Tuesday night, I couldn’t stop smiling because playing this game was like seeing an old familiar friend I haven’t seen in years. It instantly brought me back to my childhood.

But is that experience worth $14.99? I honestly hesitate to say yes. Had this game been $10, I would have definitely told you to whip out your wallet and go hog wild.

At the end of the day, I can look past all of the issues I had with this remake and at least say I had as much fun with this remake as I did with Bionic Commando: Rearmed.

But $14.99 for a trip down memory lane? I don’t know about that.

 

Author: Jeremy Turnage
Editor: Shane Luis