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The Disney Afternoon Collection (PlayStation 4) artwork

The Disney Afternoon Collection (PlayStation 4) review

"Unless you're ready to hook up your NES and dust off those cartridges, there's no better way to relive these classics."

If you were to purchase individually the six games included in The Disney Afternoon Collection, you would currently have to spend $300 or more to build the same collection. The included titles had until now only been available on the NES, unless you want to count the more recent DuckTales remake or some Game Boy editions (both of which featured enough disappointing changes that I'd really rather not), and a couple of the cartridges regularly sell on eBay for serious money all by themselves. Arguably, they're actually even worth the premium price they fetch. $20 for the lot of them should be a terrific deal, then. But is it?

In the late 80s and early 90s, Capcom and Disney teamed up to produce a variety of games. By the time the NES was dead and buried, that partnership had produced eight mostly outstanding games. Six of those titles are included here (leaving out Adventures in the Magic Kingdom and The Little Mermaid), and the omission of two of them is sort of justified by the collection's chosen theme: The Disney Afternoon. If you were an elementary-age child living in North America during the period, you very probably rushed home after school and watched some of the related shows. Maybe you even memorized the promotional jingle.

The Disney Afternoon Collection (PlayStation 4) image

With this collection, Digital Eclipse has done a good job of catering to those of us who remember the good old days. The classic theme song is reproduced, except here it sounds like it was created using 8-bit instruments. Familiar logos are splashed all over the place, and the interface in general feels very early 90s. I bet some of the people responsible for the design once played with pogs and enjoyed rollerblading.

If you once adored the video games the Disney Afternoon shows inspired, you're in for a treat now because the collection showcases a bunch of supplemental artwork that looks terrific on an HD television. A lot of it I had seen before, but there were some nice surprises, including artwork that was prepared for the DuckTales box in Japan (ultimately, the game was promoted using the same approximate artwork across the various regions). You can also access a menu to listen to any of the music you like from each of the included titles, and digital instruction manuals are included to let you know how to play. They're very nicely done, and include some useful tips for newcomers.

The Disney Afternoon Collection (PlayStation 4) image

Before you start playing, you can configure your controls (button by button), and the settings save automatically so you can use them across each of the games. In this way, you can essentially turn your modern controller into an old NES gamepad. By default, one of the two shoulder buttons lets you bring up menus to navigate the collection. The other one grants you the ability to rewind the action, in case something went wrong or you want to take another shot at a difficult section without losing a life or energy. Such functionality is nice, because in theory it means any player can get through every one of the games. And if you would rather not rely on such cheap tactics, there's no rule saying you have to.

For every game, there also are two extra modes. The first is a boss rush mode, which to me seems unnecessary. In each of the available games, the bosses were literally my least favorite element. I don't have any particular desire to do nothing but run through a gauntlet of them, but I suppose some folks must feel differently. The speed run option is more appealing to me personally, because a timer starts counting down the minute a run begins. It's neat to be able to rush through the classic games as fast as you can and then compare your performance to whatever your friends might have managed. Trophies are also available for each game you finish in fewer than two hours. I'm not sure I'll actually ever devote much time to either of these extra modes, but their inclusion doesn't hurt. They are for more hardcore players, too. The rewind feature is disabled, as it should be.

The Disney Afternoon Collection (PlayStation 4) image

My one real complaint about the collection is that the controls feel sluggish, which isn't a minor concern. The issue seems to affect each included title, as well. I sometimes would press the button to make my character jump, but it would just stay still. Or I would try to get it to toss an object with the same result. Nothing feels as responsive as it does on the NES, and I can't put it better than that. Maybe it's just my muscle memory failing me. I've cleared some of these games dozens of times over the years. They just don't feel the same here, even though they look right (you know, aside from the borders that are in place to maintain the proper aspect ratio).

That just leaves the matter of finally talking about the six included games, which you've very likely already played if you're into 8-bit gaming. The full list is: DuckTales, Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, Tailspin, Darkwing Duck, DuckTales 2 and Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers 2. If you aren't familiar with any of the above titles, look around the Internet or even this very site for plenty of reviews that address their strengths and weaknesses They're classic games that most of us played and loved--or at least tolerated--during our youth. Some of them are just difficult to pick up these days without breaking the bank.

If you want that classic 8-bit experience on more convenient hardware and you don't want to emulate because it makes you feel icky (I definitely sympathize, if that's the case), The Disney Afternoon Collection is a generally strong compilation that absolutely belongs in your digital library. I do wish it were also available on the Switch, and on a physical cartridge to boot, but I learned a long time ago that we can't always get what we want. This is honestly more than I ever thought Capcom and Disney would make available here in 2017, and I'm pleased the two companies teamed up one more time to defy my expectations. My guess is that if you download the game, you will be too.


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Staff review by Jason Venter (April 22, 2017)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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