Find out if the remake of the classic NES and Gameboy DuckTales game is any good in this review!
Being a child of the late 80s I almost naturally grew up with DuckTales. I’ve loved both the video game on the NES and the television series. So when I heard that there is going to be a remake of one of the most memorable games of my childhood I was as much as excited to replay the game as worried that they’d fuck it up.
DuckTales Remastered was developed by WayForward Technologies who seem to have developed quite a few games over the course of the last 20 years. I was quite happy that the remake was going to be developed by an experienced developer but I also was worried once more because I’ve never heard of any of the other games which they developed.
The first thing you’ll notice is that the game has a really nice comic art style with a lot of passion for the detail. Every enemy and character is nicely animated and you can tell how much thought and work went into that. The Soundtrack is also nice as they remastered the old music whilst maintaining their overall atmosphere. It’s also notable that the voice acting was done by the the surviving members of the original animated series cast and that there is full voice acting for the whole story.
And this is the single most critique I have: the story is annoying. I can see what happened here. You’re supposed to create a video game for a classic series which was a huge success back in the day. So you want your game to be as nostalgic as possible. Then you get the chance to have the original voice cast of the video series and you think about all the possibilities that open up. I mean you could create a DuckTales remake where you can also tell a fantastic story just like in the animated series! Sounds great doesn’t it? Hell yeah does it sound great, if it’s executed properly. Take the BioShock series as an example for excellent story telling. It’s up to the player to decide most of the time when you want to fully embrace the story and when not to. You can find audio logs and you either play them or not. And you can continue playing whilst listening to them!
DuckTales Remastered on the other hand throws cutscene after cutscene on you and repeatedly just cuts off the true nostalgia which people like me want to experience: the gameplay.
The first real remade level is the worst. You need to collect 8 coins to advance in the level and it takes about 20 seconds to reach each coin. After collecting a coin you’ll get a cutscene which takes as long as you needed to reach the coin. I want to play for fucks sake! Instead I feel like I’m constantly pressing start and selecting “Skip cutscene”. It took me around two hours for my first playthrough and there is a youtube video with all the cutscenes in the game which is almost 77 minutes long! It feels wrong to have that much story in a platformer. I get that they wanted the whole story to be more comprehensive but that is just overkill.
Let’s talk about some more good stuff now. The gameplay feels nice and as unique as it used to be. They’ve tweaked the pogo mechanic and you don’t need to press down anymore to pogo which used to be a hassle on the NES. Instead you can choose if you want to pogo by simply pressing a button or if you still want the old mechanic. They’ve also added two more levels to the game and tweaked some passages and every boss. I really liked the boss encounters and think they’ve done a great job with them.
Other than that they left many of the game design choices as they used to be and the question arises whether the game stands the test of time.
I’d say that it mostly does; but the gem finding mechanic in the game feels dated. There are a lot of hidden gems which will only appear when you walk or jump through them. So you end up jumping in every corner just to see if there is a gem for you to collect. But revealing the gems doesn’t mean that you actually pick them up so you often need to run to the same spot twice to actually collect the stuff you just discovered. This used to be the same on the NES and while this mechanic brings back some memories I think the game could have worked better without it.
There is one more small critique I have with the difficulties. I really liked the fact that there are actually different difficulty settings. I would have liked some explanations what the differences between them actually are though. If I had known beforehand that the hardest difficulty forces you to use the old pogo jump I’d never used the new mechanic in the first place. I know that many people don’t care about the hard difficulties but I do and this kinda ruined the experience for me.
So in the end DuckTales Remastered still remains a solid platformer and it felt great returning to that childhood memory. But the whole experience leaves a somewhat sour taste and just did not live up to my expectations.