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Review: Ducktales Remastered

At a Glance

ESRB Rating: E - Everyone
My Rating: Ages 6 and up
Genre: Platformer
License: Commercial
Release Year: 2013
Review Published On: February 12th, 2016
Played on: Thaddeus

Available from:

Gamer's Gate, Humble Store, Steam

Save System:

When you travel from one area to another, your progress is automatically saved.

During a level, you can pause at any time by hitting ESC. This also shows you the level's map and what items you still need to find to complete it, so it's worth checking this screen occasionally.

Summary of
Major Issues:

Cartoonish violence is used to subdue enemies, but there are some bigger issues. Most of the story is driven by the main character's greedy natures, and much of the humor lies in McDuck making insulting remarks about other characters.


[view screenshot]
A wild ride in a minecart

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A pushy skeleton stands in the way

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Swimming in McDuck's Money Bin

Game Overview

Back on the NES, Capcom was one of the more beloved developers. Their games were almost always the best games on the system, and the game they produced based on Disney's Ducktales cartoon was no exception. In fact, it was a crowning masterpiece; nearly every list of the best or most memorable NES games includes it.

With this much praise, it would've been huge mistake for Capcom to leave it alone. Thus, they made this remastered version, which features improved graphics and sound, but tries to mimic the original classic as closely as possible.

Personally, I never had the chance to play it back in the day. I knew about it and was well aware that Capcom was a developer to watch for, but never ran across the cartridge. So, this review wasn't a trip down memory lane as far as the game goes. I was, and still am, a fan of the cartoon, so in that respect it was pretty nostalgic to see a new game with Uncle Scrooge and the boys.

Sadly though, I can't really recommend it. But not for the reasons you might expect. I've noticed that a lot of reviews rant about how hard the game is or how poorly animated the cinematics are, and I'm not impressed by those remarks. Games on the NES were frequently difficult, and we liked it that way! Many of today's games are chided for being too easy, so it's great to play a challenging game now and then. As for the cinematics, they are trying to stay true to the original game, which didn't have capability for the more complex animations you see in modern games. To put it bluntly, this title was designed to capitalize on nostalgia, not take an old idea and remake it as a completely modern game.

But, the reason I can't recommend it is that I noticed quite a few bugs and questionable design choices while playing it. The game is fun enough, but it feels like an early Beta instead of a finished product, and the price tag is just too high for the what you get.

Story Summary

Our story opens, as so many plots in Ducktales have, with the Beagle Boys attempting to steal the gold and treasures stored in Scrooge McDuck's giant Money Bin. Although they sabotaged the security systems and held Huey, Duey and Louie hostage, his resourcefulness won out and the Beagle Boys were sent packing. As things return to normal, Scrooge began wondering about the painting the Beagle Boys were trying to steal.

After a brief inspection, he discovers that the painting contained a secret treasure map, detailing the locations of several priceless artifacts. Thus began his journey around the globe to find and return home with truly rare treasures. Along the way, he'd visit familiar locations from the cartoon series, and battle old foes like Flintheart Glomgold and Magica De Spell.

Points of Interest

Gaming and Cartoon Nostalgia
A remake of one of the best video games and one of the most beloved animated series of all time is going to be awesome, just because of the material it has to work with. If you were a kid in the 1990s, Ducktales was one of your favorite shows. Chances are, the theme song is still stuck in your head.

To keep things nostalgic while keeping the new players comfortable, there are options to let the players choose which style of certain features they want to use. For example, pogo jumping can the configured so that you use the original controls or the newer (and easier) style created for Ducktales Remastered.
Interesting twist on collecting treasures
In most platformers, coins and other treasures are suspended in the air. Collecting these is usually a good idea, as they give you points and extra lives. Ducktales plays with this a little: there are gems to collect throughout the levels, but they are hidden from view until Scrooge moves through the spot where they are hiding. In order to collect them, you'll need to actively search for them.
Locations from the cartoon
The original game came out while the show was still on TV, so naturally it takes you through many of the places and stories you would have recently watched. This is a very common idea for games created off a TV show or movie, but this many years down the line it becomes a way to remind everyone of happy childhood memories.
Steam community features
There are a lot of achievements to collect, four of which are hidden until you complete their obscure requirement. One of these is actually a reference to something players didn't like about the original NES game -- making its requirement a bit more obscure than one might expect. There is also a collection of Steam trading cards available.
No reasonable way to speed dialogue along
The characters have a lot to say in this game. While that's not a problem in and of itself, it's kind of annoying that the dialogue text is printed at a snail's pace. Most games let you use a button to have the text print quickly, but not this one. The best you can do is go to the pause menu and select the option to skip the scene. This doesn't speed anything up; it skips the scene entirely, making it an all-or-nothing situation. Pausing the game at every dialogue is also pretty annoying on its own, so it's not really much help. There is a "fast cinematics" option, but it doesn't seem to remain set. When it does work, it just automatically skips the scene.
The voice acting really needs some improving
Okay, I know this sounds really insulting, so let me explain my point a bit. To make the remastered version, they went out of their way to find and hire as many of the original voice actors as they could. Thus, the characters in the game are voiced by the same actors who played them in the show. That's very commendable and well above the standard.

Unfortunately, the problem is that most of the dialogue lacks energy or inflection, like the actors simply read their lines from a script. It's not engaging, and makes everyone feel wooden and dull. It's particularly noticeable with Scrooge and Magica De Spell. Despite the lines being written for it, Magica doesn't have the commanding power or maniacal edge to her that she used to, and Scrooge's complaining lacks the irritation and determination that he was known for.
Many graphical glitches
People are warning about a serious bug in the game, and since the rumors claim it depends on your hardware, I played this game on both of my systems to try and trigger it. In the end, I didn't encounter that bug, but I did spy a bunch of other graphical glitches. Interestingly, which glitches I encountered was dependent on which system I used, so something is clearly going wrong in the code somewhere.

On the older system, characters kept flickering and blinking like broken Christmas lights. This sometimes made it hard to track where an enemy was, and on occasion it was hard to watch for long. The Amazon level was the worst for this, possibly due to the higher amount of characters on screen. On the newer system, the text rendering was broken in some areas, displaying a corrupted mish-mash of text and shadows.
The Game Breaking Crash Bug
A lot of users are reporting that there's a very serious bug towards the end of the game. Right after Magica gives her speech, the game will freeze and crash. As a result, these users are not able to complete the game. This bug seems to be hardware dependent, with Nvidia users seeing it the most. Considering Nvidia is one of the leading graphics card brands, that's a serious screw up by the developers and it really should have been addressed by now.
Very overpriced
Considering the last two points and the fact that the game can be beaten in about three hours, the price tag of $15 is not sitting at all well with people. Nostalgic or not, that's not a fair price for the quality of the product.

Concerns and Issues

Mild Violence
The player only has two attacks to choose from, neither of which is terribly violent. Your main attack involves jumping on enemies, bouncing them off the stage by using Scrooge's cane like a pogo stick. The other attack can only be done in specific locations; Scrooge can hit rocks or some other objects like a golf ball, sending them flying. Any enemy that touches the moving object is knocked out of the game.

On the other side of the coin, enemies have a number of ways to harm Scrooge. The most violent examples are the duck-eating plants and Magica's magical attacks. The plants grab Mr. McDuck with their huge teeth and swing him about a bit until he hits them enough times with his cane. As for Magica's attacks, they typically involve columns or rows of fire shooting across the screen. While impressive, there's no special animation for Scrooge getting hit by those.
Evil magic and undead monsters
As you've probably guessed, Magica De Spell is a magic user that's harassed Scrooge time and time again, usually in a plot to capture his Number One Dime. Throughout this game she uses magic to travel around, attack Scrooge, turn some of the Beagle Boys into pigs, and occasionally turn herself into a vulture.

Other magical enemies in Ducktales are more generic staples, such as mummies, vampires, bats or ghosts. The worst offender for these types of monsters is, naturally enough, the one based in Transylvania. Magica's Lair is a close second.
Insults as humor
Scrooge's sense of humor has always been sarcastic and a little bit harsh, so it's not surprising that he continues this trend in Ducktales Remastered. It's relatively tame (this is a Disney production after all), but some of the jokes might make parents uncomfortable. For example, Scrooge openly wonders if Launchpad was dropped on his head during his childhood.
Greed is a main driving force behind the story
Both Scrooge McDuck and Flintheart Glomgold are extremely rich. Yet, their primary motivation for this adventure boils down to just getting more money and stuff than the other guy. Scrooge does value his family more than money, but as so often happens in stories he appears in, this only comes up in the climax. Glomgold meanwhile will double cross anybody if it means making him richer.