90s Video Game Review: DuckTales

It is my belief that all children are born with the DuckTales theme song within their heart. It's such a simple, catchy, memorable song and it defines everything that Disney did right with regards to animation in the 80s and well through the 90s.

If you don't remember the landmark cartoon, then you are without a soul and should probably find a cave somewhere to retire to and live a hermetic lifestyle until the world completely forgets about your worthless existence.

Like any successful franchise, there were numerous opportunities to make even more money off of the budding DuckTales legacy. There were toys, straight to VHS home videos, and even a video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System. This classic Capcom video game based on the DuckTales TV series is what I have decided to speak about today.

It has recently come to my attention that WayForward Technologies is developing a remastered HD remake of the game for the Wii U Nintendo eShop, Playstation Network, and the Xbox Live Arcade and is slated for a Summer 2013 release.

In an attempt to quell my child-like restless anticipation of this awesome remake, I'm dusting off the old NES for a rehash of the original as a way to explain how its immeasurable charm has lasted over two decades.

Although this title is not terribly obscure and has recently been the subject of many blogs relating to retro video gaming, I still feel Capcom's DuckTales commands enough respect to warrant a proper review. As is true of much of the video games developed by Capcom in the late 80s and early 90s, DuckTales became an instant classic that stands toe to toe alongside iconic titles like Mega Man and Street Fighter.

Graphically, DuckTales is on par with any 2D platformer title of the generation. Its bright, colorful graphics provide vibrant worlds for kids and adults alike. The backdrops are tailored specifically for each world, whether it be a haunted house or outer space. This great attention to detail and insistence on a cohesive, quality gaming experience may be one of the reason's for the game's lingering success.

Additionally, the music of DuckTales is one of its most precious aspects. From the 8-bit version of the show's theme song to the psychedelic, spacey Moon Theme that spawned its own series of remixes forever immortalized in meme form, it isn't just the throwaway repetitive electronica of many games of the era. Its layered, orchestrated, engaging arrangements help immerse the player within the thematic elements of each level and provide a specific mood to accompany the gameplay. Even today, the songs are pretty magical.

With regards to gameplay, DuckTales soared above the competition. With Capcom's already-touted tight control scheme, the player controls Scrooge McDuck, the wealthiest duck in the world, as he quests for additional treasure to add to his vault. Scrooge's abilities are all tied to his cane. He can jump, use it as a pogo stick to jump even higher, or use it as a weapon to defeat enemies or strike objects in the game world.

Like Mega Man titles, the game consists of five unique stages that can be attempted in any order that the player chooses. At the end of each stage, a boss guards one of the treasures that Scrooge McDuck is after. There are also two hidden treasures that unlock an alternate ending, if collected. Along the way, Scrooge is aided by non-player characters such as his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie, Gizmo Duck, and Launchpad McQuack. After the five stages are conquered, the player must return to Transylvania for a final boss fight with the wicked Magica De Spell.

The nonlinear elements like the ability to return a stage to find items you may have missed as well as the addition of two alternate endings depending on how much money or what hidden treasures you collect also gives the game a bit more replay value than most platforming games.

With its colorful presentation, masterful music, responsive controls, and addictive gameplay, Capcom's DuckTales video game for the NES stands tall throughout the years as a perfect example of a well-designed 2D platformer and is worthy of the praise it has received from critics and gamers alike. I anxiously await the HD remake to once again take a trip into the friendly, familiar world of Duckburg.

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