Life is like a hurricane, here in, Duckburg...
So started the opening to one of Disney's 1980s animation classics, the television series "DuckTales." It started a long block of cartoons that formed the backbone of the Disney Channel through the later '80s and early '90s. Alongside these shows came a slew of licensed video games. Many were rightly forgotten, but a few are fondly remembered as classics, including Capcom's DuckTales licensed game, which cast the player as McDuck family patriarch Scrooge McDuck, out to hunt down treasures and make money in his traditional ways. Around the time Kingdom Hearts 1.5 was announced, Disney had the idea of exploring remakes more seriously as a way to revisit nostalgia, and DuckTales: Remastered is pretty much the pinnacle of that strategy: an awesome downloadable game that recaptures the classic levels of the original.
In gameplay terms, DuckTales: Remastered is a 100% straight remake. There are no new areas, no mechanical changes, and no 2.5-D trickery, so every level plays almost exactly like it did in the NES original. Scrooge still explores ancient ruins around the world while using his cane as a pogo stick and weapon, and there are plenty of secrets to uncover throughout large 2-D levels that play like a miniature prototype of the Metroidvania format (with only the original Metroid before it for inspiration!).
This isn't to say there isn't anything new to the game, only that the original gameplay is thoroughly preserved. Quite a lot has been added to the window dressing to help modernize the experience while holding the original gameplay on a pedestal. For one thing, at least some of the original show cast has come together — including the 94-year-old Alan Young as Scrooge McDuck — to fully voice the game's significantly expanded dialog, often supplemented with new cut scenes. The soundtrack receives similar updates, including voiced cries in reaction to various in-game elements and remixes of the classic game music.
Further, all of the game's animation is now drawn to look loosely like the show while keeping to the NES title's approximate proportions to ensure accurate gameplay. This leaves all characters and enemies looking almost like they did in the series. The backdrops, environments, and some items have been switched to 3-D models, and while this looks strange at first, it also makes it very easy to differentiate the gameplay from the flavor elements.
The expanded cut scenes are designed to line up with the style of the show's original scripts, so it feels like each level was an episode of the show, easily maintaining the classic and optimistic adventure tone throughout.
DuckTales: Remastered knows exactly how to play off nostalgia, and it does so wonderfully. Since it preserves classic gameplay and adds a fresh coat of paint, players are in for a treat when it hits the current-gen download shops this summer for 1,200 Microsoft points ($15) on Xbox Live and $14.99 on PlayStation Network and PC.
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