Archives by Day

August 2018

The Disney Afternoon Collection

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: April 18, 2017


PS4 Review - 'The Disney Afternoon Collection'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on May 11, 2017 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

The Disney Afternoon Collection is a compilation of six games that feature beloved Disney TV characters from the 80s and 90s in fun-filled adventures.

Buy The Disney Afternoon Collection

Disney cartoons such as "Chip & Dale's Rescue Rangers," "Darkwing Duck," and "Ducktales" are fondly remembered and have created generations of fans. In an era known for mediocre licensed games, Disney had some of the most enjoyable games on the market. Capcom had the license at the time and put its best foot forward instead of relying on the license, resulting in some of the classics of the NES era. The Disney Afternoon Collection is a bundle of those six classic titles, and it does a great job of showing why they were so fondly remembered.

Of course, the big star of the collection is Ducktales, which is the quintessential Disney Afternoon game.  Ducktales followed popular icon Scrooge McDuck on a treasure-hunting adventure through the world as he seeks to increase his own wealth. Its core mechanics inspired quite a few games, such as its pogo-stick-bouncing mechanic being a big influence on Shovel Knight. It's also aged incredibly well. It's still an NES game, and it can be esoteric, frustrating and obtuse. It's also just plain fun and has a fantastic soundtrack that's capped off by "Moon Theme," which is one of the best tracks ever made for an NES game.

The elephant in the room in terms of the collection is that the biggest game, Ducktales, already had a high-effort full remake a few years ago, which blunts the impact of the collection. Obviously, this is the NES original preserved exactly as nostalgia demands, and for some, that might be a plus, but it means that it's probably the least exciting part of the package despite being one of the best games. That doesn't decrease the value of the collection, unless your primary reason for buying it was Ducktales.

Also included is Ducktales II, the lesser-known (and infinitely more expensive to purchase) sequel to the first game. It's a solid game, and although I found it to be less memorable, it actually improves upon the core mechanics and gameplay of the original. The game is almost a proto-Metroidvania now, with more open levels and hidden secrets. It's hard to say what makes it feel less exciting except perhaps the lack of nostalgia and the music isn't quite as memorable. It's a lot of fun to play and is likely more accessible than the original Ducktales. It's a great sequel, and if you liked the original, you should like the follow-up.

In comparison, Talespin, based on a spin-off of "The Jungle Book," is easily the weakest part of the collection. It's a 2-D side-scrolling shooter that was unexceptional even when it was originally released. It does almost nothing of note and contains very little of the style of the television series. It's forgettable after a single playthrough. It's perhaps the only game in the collection that feels like it was included to fulfill the theme rather than being a well-remembered classic.

My favorite cartoon of the lot was the charming Darkwing Duck, a combination parody of The Shadow and Batman about a somewhat egotistical and lovable superhero. Darkwing Duck is probably the safest Capcom game in the collection and has a lot in common with other platformers from the era. It's a lot of fun, with Darkwing's signature gas gun having different kinds of ammunition so you can adjust and alter your attacks. The level design and boss design feel incredibly solid, and it's a really good platformer in its own right. It's also the one that most reliably captures the feel of its respective franchise in terms of art style and design. It's a delightful burst of nostalgia for anyone who watched "Darkwing Duck" as a kid.

The next game in the collection is Chip & Dale's Rescue Rangers, which is a cooperative platformer without a lot of substance, which could be a plus or a minus. It's a very fast-paced and focused game where the primary mechanic involves throwing objects to solve puzzles and beat foes. You can burn through it relatively quickly even by NES standards, but it has fantastic pacing and excellent gameplay. It's kind of an ideal pick-up-and-play title if you're fond of the NES style of platforming. It doesn't break the mold in any way, but it's probably the best game in the collection for a casual player, as it's more straightforward than Ducktales and less likely to block progression.

The last game in the collection is Chip & Dale's Rescue Rangers 2, which is basically a straight sequel to the original. It's less inspired and more bloated than its predecessor, and the level design, graphics and music aren't as good, either. I enjoyed it well enough, and it's a good companion to the original game, but in this collection, Chip & Dale 2 is about as memorable as Talespin.

Since these were all NES games, you're going to see a lot of things that might seem bewildering to modern titles. There are often huge gaps between check points, cheap deaths, difficult bosses and occasional frustrating segments that would make an eight-year-old toss a Nintendo controller hard enough to dent a wall. There are no updates, modernization or changes to the game, and if you go into the Afternoon collection, you need to be prepared for a game that is genuinely and wholeheartedly Nintendo Hard.

All of the games share a few nice features. There are some minor adjustments you can perform, such as changing the aspect ratio, adding filter lines to mimic an old TV or monitor, adding a border to prevent a completely black screen, and so on. The most significant addition is the rewind button, which is helpful to newcomers who are playing an NES game for the first time and existing fans who now have slower reflexes. At any time, you can press the rewind button to zoom the game backward and undo any mistakes. It might be cheating, but considering how difficult some of these games can be, it's forgivable to have a mulligan button, but it's entirely optional.

Additionally, Boss Rush allows you to take on nothing but the bosses, and you can even upload your speedrun to a leaderboard, where others can view your playthrough and try to beat it. This really benefits some games, and even when it doesn't, it's a fun new way to experience the title. The built-in manuals with tips replace the NES booklets. There's also a Music mode that lets you listen to the soundtrack for each game.

The real star of the show is the Museum feature. It's a lovely collection of production artwork and sketches for the titles in the collection. It also includes lots of cool trivia and behind-the-scenes details, and you can see comparisons between the sprite artwork and the production sketches. It's a lot of fun to look at, and it feels meaty. It's no replacement for a true artbook, but it's sure to delight most Capcom or Disney fans.

All in all, The Disney Afternoon Collection is a solid, well-made and dependable collection of some fun, old-school games. You get a lot of content for $20, and the presentation is quite nice. The games are almost untouched except for some minor Boss Rush features and a rewind button. Younger gamers might not be nostalgic for these games, but for anyone who remembers rushing home after school to catch the latest episode of their favorite show, this is a trip worth taking.

Score: 8.0/10

More articles about The Disney Afternoon Collection
blog comments powered by Disqus