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This page includes some jargon that hasn't been added to the site's glossary yet. I'll be around to fix this later, but sorry for the inconvenience in the meantime.

Review: The Disney Afternoon Collection

At a Glance

This game is recommended!
While there are many great games out there, this is one manages to be good fun and stay fairly true to Christian moral values.

If you're looking to add a new game to your collection, consider this one!

ESRB Rating: E10 - Everyone (Ages 10 and up)
My Rating: Ages 6 and up
Genre: Platformer / Shoot 'em Up
License: Commercial
Release Year: 2017
Review Published On: May 27th 2020
Played on: Thaddeus

Available from:

Gamer's Gate, Humble Store, Steam

Save System:

None of the games in this collection were designed with a save* feature. Such a thing was simply not used back when they were made. However, because these are emulated*, you have the ability to create a save state*. This option is available from the pause menu, which is brought up by pressing ESC*.

Summary of
Major Issues:

There is some fairly mild violence, as defeated enemies* simply get bounced off the screen.

Also, while Disney's penchant for magical mischief appears to some degree in nearly every title, it stays very tame and never gets more spooky than the cartoons the games were based on.

Screenshots

[view screenshot]
Kitchens are a dangerous place for a chipmonk

[view screenshot]
Scrooge explores the arctic for treasure

[view screenshot]
Even the seedy underbelly of St. Canard is no place for crime



Game Overview

Normally, I'd cover the details of a game in the Game Overview section above and then move on to the Points of Interest section. However, the Disney Afternoon Collection is a group of six very different games, so instead of cramming everything into the overview, I thought it would be best to explain how they came to be first, and then break them down individually in a separate section.

Long, long ago, back in the dark ages before the coming of on-demand streaming and Blu-ray collections, people were only able to watch what was currently playing on one of the three TV channels available in their area. This meant that children generally didn't have much to watch, as cartoons were usually limited to Saturday mornings. Thankfully, Disney came to our aid, gathering up their syndicated cartoons into a series known as the Disney Afternoon. As the name suggests, this was aired shortly after children would return home from school, providing some much-needed entertainment before dinner and homework.

Many of the cartoons that were aired during this programming block went on to become some of the most beloved children's shows of the 1990s. As such, it's not surprising that video game adaptations were created to capitalize on their success. Disney didn't develop the games themselves, however. Instead, they made a deal with an established developer, who created the games under Disney's supervision. That developer was Capcom, who was also known for a number of popular titles, perhaps most notably the Mega Man franchise.

Now, games created from cartoons in the Disney Afternoon TV block were found on many different systems. This collection only includes six NES titles that where produced, and while I'd love to see more of Disney's older games given new life via home computer releases, these are quite a good start. Also, considering the popularity of some of the other systems, these are probably the six games that most 90s kids are going to remember. After all, Ducktales was popular enough that it was given a HD remake a few years ago (for better or worse).

Personally, I enjoyed this trip down memory lane; the Rescue Rangers titles were some of my favorite games growing up, so it was great to play through them again. That said, this was the first time I've ever played the other four titles, and for the most part, they're pretty good too. If you like retro or old school* games, or are a fan of any of these cartoons, then seriously consider adding this collection to your game library. The $20 price tag is practically a steal considering how much of my allowance I spent renting these games from Blockbuster back in the day.

About the Games

Each of the games in this collection is based on a specific Disney property. It's fairly obvious which cartoons were the most popular, as both Ducktales and Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers appear twice in this collection. Of course, if you wanted to make a popularity contest out of it, there were actually nine cartoons in the Disney Afternoon, while only four are represented here. But, rather than dwell on what might have been, let's have a look at each title in this collection.

Ducktales
This is not only the oldest game in this set, it's also one of the most popular. The Moon level's music is almost always listed in lists of the best NES soundtracks, and the gameplay is also quite memorable. Taking on the role of Scrooge McDuck, you'll travel the world in search of treasure.
Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers
Unlike most of the games in this set, this game features two player co-op, allowing players to work together as Chip and Dale. At first, the game follows the basic storyline of the series' pilot episode, but once you've saved* the pets from the evil scientist, the Rescue Ranger's archenemy Fat Cat abducts Gadget and it's up to the Rangers to rescue one of their own.
Talespin
This is the only game in the set that isn't a platformer of some sort. It's a fairly standard shoot 'em up*, with Baloo piloting the Seaduck. The appearance of the plane more closely resembles the McDonald's toys based on the series than the one in the show, but that's artistic license for you. Your primary goal is to fly through each level, collecting as many cargo containers you can, and avoiding Don Karnage and his Air Pirates.
Darkwing Duck
This cartoon was an affectionate parody of the entire superhero genre, though most people would agree that it's closer to Batman: the Animated Series than most other superhero cartoons from that era. Using his gas gun, a weapon that can fire gas pellets with various effects, Darkwing Duck attempts to keep St. Canard safe from the evil F.O.W.L. organization. That said, the biggest crime in this game is that the limited space of the NES ROM data prevented Darkwing from chewing the scenery like he does in the cartoon.
Ducktales 2
The first Ducktales game was a huge hit, so the second game had big webbed spats to fill. This time around, levels feature extra hidden treasures, the map screen is considerably more elaborate, and set pieces are more refined. There is also a secret ending* waiting for expert players to unlock.
Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers 2
Like the first Rescue Rangers game, you have the option of two player co-op. However, this time the storyline is more developed, and it isn't borrowed from an episode of the series. At the start of the game, Fat Cat has his gang bomb a restaurant. While the Rescue Rangers are dealing with that, he escapes prison, steals an artifact known as the Pharaoh's Urn, and then uses the artifact to send ghosts and other ghouls after the Rangers!

Points of Interest

Classic Nostalgia
Capcom knew what they were doing when they created these gems, and it's not surprising to me that people have these games on their lists of favorite NES games. Not only are the games fun in their own right, but they're bits of Disney history that can introduce curious gamers to the Rescue Rangers, the crew of the Seaduck, the trials of St. Canard, and the gang from Duckburg.
Additional Features
Each game in the collection features their original NES game mode as well as a Time Attack and Boss Rush* mode. Both record how long it takes you to complete the game (or defeat every boss), allowing you to test and perfect your skills. Additionally, since these titles are emulated*, you gain many useful features, such as the ability to record a save state* for each game and the ability to rewind time. The latter allows you to undo mistakes, which is a mind-blowing feature that'll ensure everybody can have a good time.
Steam Community Features
There are twenty achievements* to earn as you play these old games. Most of them are some variation of beating the game (eg, complete Ducktales, complete Ducktales in under two hours), but one might be a little tricky for the less confident gamers. The idea behind the "Be kind; DON'T rewind" achievement* is that you need to complete any game in this set without using the rewind gimmick, and once you've see how useful it is in normal playthroughs, that's not going to be as easy as it sounds. I'd suggest playing through the first Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers game to get that achievement*; in my opinion it's the easiest of the games in this collection, so you might be able to keep your finger off the rewind button and still be victorious.

For anyone who collects them, there is also a set of Steam trading cards* available, with each card featuring a different protagonist.
Troublesome controls
One of the biggest downsides of older games is that the wrinkles in their gameplay mechanics* aren't always ironed out. This is especially the case with Darkwing Duck's game, as his ability to latch on to overhead platforms don't work reliably. Since this is a core mechanic* of that game, it also makes things MUCH harder than intended. Unfortunately, the final level of that game not only depends on this feature, it also involves enemies* that respawn* in just the worst places possible, making it a chore to attempt (let alone beat).

That's not to say the other games are completely immune to such issues either; it's just that their problems don't get in the way quite as much.

Concerns and Issues

Mild violence
NES games rarely got very violent; aside from the limitations of the hardware, Nintendo had the final say over what was allowed on their system and imposed a number of rules to keep things safe for the kiddos. Disney generally does something similar, as it's pretty heavily invested in being a family friendly business.

The net result of this is that defeated enemies* are typically "bounced" off the screen or just pop out of existence when you defeat them. Excluding the vehicles in Talespin, Darkwing's gas gun is the closest thing to a realistic weapon in all of the games, and its various types of ammo simply fire bolts in different directions or cause other special effects. In their respective games, Chip and Dale rely on throwing various objects (mainly crates) as their offensive tactic, and Scrooge McDuck uses his cane to either knock objects into enemies* or bounce over them.

If you really wanted to bother talking about the violence in Talespin, it's about on par with other shoot 'em ups*, and just as easily dismissed. The only difference here is that defeated characters, Baloo included, bail out and float to safety using a parachute.
Some spooky levels and themes
Disney has always liked the spooky and magical, and this is reflected in almost every game in this collection. Whether it's the Rescue Rangers dealing with the ghosts and ghouls released by the Pharaoh's Urn, or Scrooge is scurrying about Transylvania and fighting his nemesis Magica de Spell, there's plenty of Disney magic going on. Even Talespin gets in on the act, as there's a level based on a haunted mansion. But, despite all of the spooky things going on, nothing gets anywhere near as serious as Disney's The Old Mill or Night on Bare Mountain, so you can rest easy about it.
Characters are shown smoking or drinking
Some of the villains are shown smoking or drinking. This was not entirely unexpected back in the day, as many cartoon villains were loosely based on characters from currently popular action movies like the James Bond series. One specific example is Fat Cat, who resembles a typical mob boss, right down to the cigar and ownership of a casino. In particular, he uses his cigar as a weapon during one of his fights, attempting to drop hot ashes on the Rescue Rangers.