Duck Tales (NES) review
"When it all comes down to it, the 80s (and early 90s, I guess) were just so superior to the this strange new culture of today. Just look at all your Disney themed games today. How many of them are worth playing? Very few would be the best answer, and there arenít too many folks excited about playing Donald Duck or Tarzan when they could be playing the multitude of other high quality games around. But back in the glory days of the NES, we didnít have that problem. Disney games were actually *gasp..."
When it all comes down to it, the 80s (and early 90s, I guess) were just so superior to the this strange new culture of today. Just look at all your Disney themed games today. How many of them are worth playing? Very few would be the best answer, and there arenít too many folks excited about playing Donald Duck or Tarzan when they could be playing the multitude of other high quality games around. But back in the glory days of the NES, we didnít have that problem. Disney games were actually *gasp* good, probably due to the fact that they were made by Capcom and not some strange no name company. Duck Tales, based off the popular cartoon show where Scrooge McDuck continues his everlasting selfless quest to become richer than he already is, is one of these high quality Disney games of yore.
So what is this game? Short answer is itís a platformer, like Mario. But that doesnít begin to describe the unique and tight gameplay of yonder cartridge. There are five levels to choose from, ranging from the Amazon to the Himalayas. Like Megaman, you can choose which order to take the levels. Scrooge can walk, jump, swing his cane, or bounce on said cane (like a pogo stick). Jumping on an enemy is not advisable, but with your pogo cane you can bounce off their heads or just take a mighty swing and knock some boulders their way. Naturally, powerups like 1-ups, extra heart containers (for lack of a better term) and health are hidden throughout the game. Also, the point system is actually a money system, so that one must collect gems and such for a high score. At the end of each level is a boss naturally, and of course a final boss after you beat all five levels. There are multiple paths through the levels, and they are set up more like a maze than Marioís single path levels. Or just play it yourself for a better picture.
Thereís quite a bit of great stuff here. The system used is fairly unique, as Scrooge must pogo his way through enemies and past tough obstacles. Your movements and abilities are sufficiently different enough to separate this game from the numerous other platformers out there. Besides, bouncing on your pogo stick is fun to do (or is that just me?). The incredibly varied levels provide the gamer with a fresh experience each stage, and each is intelligently designed and thoroughly filled with puzzles, enemies, secrets, and powerups. The bosses, too, are quite fun to play against, albeit a bit on the easy side. Naturally, the ability to choose your own order of levels can only be a good thing. For instance, if you has problems with one level (say, the Moon), you can either skip it to see the rest of the game or continually play it to better yourself. Not a bad deal, eh? Secrets are truly secret; able to be found with a bit of luck and close observation, but neither overly obvious nor devilishly impossible. This game takes all of the basics of the platformer genre, twists them to its own liking, and ups the ante for the rest of the crowd. Not bad for a Disney game.
Unfortunately, there are a few minor and/or major problems that come with it. The controls arenít that intuitive, and can take a while getting used to. To bounce around, you must first jump and then press down and A, but you must continue to press A if you would like to bounce continuously. It doesnít sound too bad here, but the game seems to wipe out your pogo stick abilities from time to time, occasionally with deadly results. Swinging your cane also doesnít seem to register all the time. Still, it can be conquered, and we may move on to the next problem: size. Thereís only five levels, making it a rather short game (even for the NES). This could be a turn off for some people, but I think thatís more of a ďlack of goodĒ than a ďbadĒ thing. Some of the levels can be quite frustrating, especially Transylvania (I still get lost in that place even though I know its secret. Aaarghh). Although the implementation of money as a point system is only natural given the premise, it is ultimately useless unless you are aiming for a high score (thus making the entire thing a moot point). And the final challenge was kind of dull too. Still, these problems are, for the most part, very minor and barely detract from the rest of the game.
Graphically, the game is a beauty. Considering the age of the game and its system, I am quite surprised at how nice it looks. Scrooge and the rest of the Duck Tales crew all are exquisitely detailed, looking close enough to their TV counterparts. Scroogeís animations are also plentiful and flow smoothly together. The wide range of enemies are also nice and detailed, along with the backgrounds, which pretty much places this game near the top tier of NES games. Itís certainly not the best, but we really canít complain. Sound is a different story though. The classic Duck Tales theme greets you at the title screen, and each level has a different theme. The sound effects, however, are a mixed bag, with some (like the pogo stick sound) being spot on while others (like pogo sticking on an enemy) are simply bizarre and jarring. Just accept the aural limitations and move on. Itís not a big deal.
The NES was filled to the brim with platformers, yet this one still manages to stand out. Itís no Mario, obviously, but the good thing is it doesnít try to be. By utilizing a completely different level design and philosophy than the irascible Italian, Duck Tales avoids looking like a clone and instead gives the player a newer experience. The gameplay itself backs up the design and gives one a solid experience. There are a few notable problems, but only marginally detract from the game. Iíd give it a shot if I were you.
Community review by mariner (August 16, 2005)
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