You don’t normally think of games based on TV shows and movies as being particularly good, but Capcom’s Disney games on the NES were a different story. DuckTales in particular is very fondly remembered. It was a game that was so good that even kids like me, who didn’t really watch the show the game was based on, still absolutely loved it. How does the game hold up in 2017
2D platformers were a dime a dozen on the NES, but DuckTales stands out by having non-linear level design. You still go through a level, find a boss, and finish it, but there are multiple paths you can go on your way. The game actively encourages exploring by offering optional treasures. Depending on how much treasure you collect, you get a different ending to the game. There’s even a very difficult to get bad ending by not collecting anything the entire game.
Controlling the game is a little funky, but it works. The basics are what you probably expect. The D-pad moves Scrooge McDuck left and right and the A button makes him jump. While your first instinct might be to jump on enemies to kill them, that’ll actually hurt you instead. You have to hold the B button and down on the D-pad while in the air to use Scrooge’s cane as a pogo stick. When bouncing on it, jumping on enemies will kill them. There are also rocks that you can hit with your pogo stick by pressing up against them and hitting the B button. It took a little bit for me to get used to it, but it does work very well.
The thing I didn’t get used to while playing this morning was how difficult the game was. I was playing the game on normal, but was rarely surviving for more than a minute or so. It’s crazy because I absolutely beat this game many times while I was in elementary school. I’m sure that if I had spent a lot of time with it today, I would have started to pick up on how to keep myself alive, but it just wasn’t happening today.
Getting back to the positives, DuckTales’ presentation is top notch. The game looks incredible, like most of Capcom’s NES games do. The sprites are very detailed and look like a mixture of Disney’s cartoon style and Capcom’s Mega Man games. The music is also great, but I’m sure you’ve heard that before. The song that plays on the Moon level is particularly well known for being one of the best pieces of music on the NES.
DuckTales is great and everyone should check it out. There’s a few different ways that you can play the game today without tracking down the original cartridge. A few years ago, the game was remade by Way Forward as DuckTales Remastered. There are changes, but the soul of the game is still there. If you’d rather play the original version, it is included on the Disney Afternoon Collection, and includes a rewind feature to make some of those deaths a little more bearable. However you choose to do it, there is a great but challenging game waiting for you.