DuckTales Remastered Impressions

DuckTales Remastered

I remember the cartoon fondly, but my time with the cult classic DuckTales on the NES was limited. I do remember playing it, and I can hum the moon theme on command, but I don’t remember getting very far. Instead, most of my early Disney gaming came from titles like Chip & Dale’s Rescue Rangers and Aladdin. While my level of nostalgia for the source material was low, I was still excited to play DuckTales: Remastered for a taste of classic gaming with an HD facelift.

No longer bound by pixels, the graphics have been completely redone with cell-shaded character sprites and 3D-rendered backgrounds. I think the game looks good, though at times the juxtaposition of design approaches clashes a bit too much. Ideally, the whole game would have been done with the 2D art, though it’s a minor gripe in the grand scheme of things.

Speaking of production values, the inclusion of cutscenes and voice acting is also a mixed bag. It’s nice that Way Forward is making the effort to provide more of a story to the game, though the actual execution of these scenes is sketchy. Most scenes are just extended sections where characters stare at each other and talk, which isn’t very interesting to watch. While I appreciate the level of effort they went to so that the original voice actors could reprise their roles, this ultimately comes off as a hindrance in the case of Scrooge McDuck. The performance clearly highlights his age to the point where it hurts the overall portrayal of the character. Thankfully, you can skip the cutscenes, but it does require you to pause the game first before taking advantage of this option. I would have preferred to have been able to skip with a single button press rather than having to stop the game each time.

One aspect of the game’s presentation that I can’t knock is its music. It’s clear to see that this was a high priority, as every song has been lovingly remixed. Of course, the moon theme gets special attention with multiple takes on the game’s signature track. Even without the extra bells and whistles, the core compositions still hold up incredibly well and fit the action perfectly.

Admittedly, it’s been a long time since I played the original, so I was caught off guard by how difficult this game can be. Like the original, each of the game’s levels requires you to search and find certain items before you can take on the boss. Even though you can freely bounce on spikes with Scrooge’s signature pogo cane, there are all sorts of enemies and hazards that will quickly take you out. If you can’t beat the level within the allotted number of lives, you must start the whole level over again. I guess just like the source material, Remastered is challenging. Once I got familiar with the levels, it became easier to work through them. At the very least, you don’t have to beat the whole thing in one sitting.

Having an affinity towards the source material will definitely go a long way towards enjoying DuckTales: Remastered, though it’s not required. I can’t tell you where the original ends and where the remake starts, but I enjoyed my time with it for what it was trying to do. Now when do I get to play the remastered versions of Chip & Dale’s Rescue Rangers or Aladdin?

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