DuckTales: Remastered – Xbox 360
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: WayForward
Release Date: Sep 11, 2013
Genre: Action, Platformer
Reviewed by Jason Flick

Review Score: 5 of 5

Do you remember when video games were controller-chucking hard? If you do then you’re probably singing the theme song to one of the greatest games in the NES library (and an awesome show to boot) right now. That’s right, Ducktales is back and while it’s be a while since the game’s original release it only took a duck blur for people like myself to get very excited about the news for DuckTales: Remastered for Xbox 360.

Growing up, I loved watching the cartoon series showcasing Scrooge McDuck, Donald’s extremely wealthy uncle, going on adventures to find treasure to make the world’s wealthiest duck even more so. The original NES version shied away from premise of the show a bit, but it was an excellent example of how good a licensed game could actually be with the right care. Apparently the folks at WayForward, Disney and Capcom were thinking the same thing, as the did an amazing job bringing the 8-bit classic into the modern age with an High Definition update.

“D-D-D-Danger, Watch Behind You” isn’t just a memorable line from the theme but a very important philosophy in this old-school platformer. For those that are use to the “Nintendo Hard” era then, you’ll be right at home with this nostalgically frustrating adventure. DuckTales: Remastered, like the original, features very tight controls which are needed if you plan on making it through the five stages found within. The remastered version brings a few new things to the adventure to make it a little more understandable as a game. For starters the opening level in Scrooge’s Money Vault in Duckburg has been added as a tutorial of sorts to get new players familiar with the controls and veteran gamers back into the swing of things.

The controls are really tight allowing for pretty precise jumps, though it took me several attempts to get through some of the levels’ tricker locations not to mention with all the enemies that respawn everytime you leave and reenter a screen. Almost all the enemies and even bosses in DuckTales: Remastered can be defeated by using Scrooge’s cane as a pogo stick. This pogo jump also helps you get to areas that outside of your natural limits, many which yield hidden areas with treasure or heart pieces. To make things harder there are treasures, chests and the occasional invincibility powers hidden throughout each stage. The only way to find them is by either walking or jumping through them and then collecting the loot just like the original game.

The developers also added the locations and or map of the level to help you find the usually required items of importance within each level to make things a “little easier”. The toughest part of DuckTales: Remastered is learning and adapting to each enemy’s patterns and working within Scrooge’s limits as he can only jump, pogo jump, or use his cane like a golf club to open chests or launch boulders at enemies. Its also important to note that Scrooge can’t jump up off ropes/vines/etc as he instead sort of falls to nearby platforms/ropes, which once you get a hang of isn’t a problem as long as you remember that.

When it comes to the difficulty factor, DuckTales: Remastered takes some getting used to. There are four difficulty settings to conquer each one more frustrating than the last. Easy will get you the quickest playthrough even if you explore everywhere, as there are no lives and when you can die you go back to the last nearby save point. Playing on Medium, Hard or the unlockable Extreme will put your skills and patience to the test as you only have a set number of lives to get through each level. Extreme is only for those “Smarter than the Smarties”, as you have to do the entire game in one shot, no saves, limited lives and you are forced to use the Hard Pogo controls, which take some time to get the hang of.

What’s not hard about DuckTales: Remastered is getting into the feel of the game. Whether you’ve seen the cartoon or played the original game DuckTales: Remastered combines the best of both in this 2.5-D HD presentation. The game features gorgeous locations that remain fairly accurate to the original with only minimal changes along the way. The hand drawn 2D art of the characters and enemies are crisp and colorful giving it the feel of the animated show. The environments and lighting for the rest of the game features some really gorgeous level designs as you traverse the Amazon jungle, an African Mine, the snow covered peaks of the Himalayas, the Moon and my favorite, Transylvania. The shadowing and flashlight effect around Scrooge is just awesome, not to mention the storm during the moments that you’re outside the castle. One noticeably odd thing is that the chests and jewels aren’t as polished as the rest of the game, but other than that I’m really happy with the presentation.

While the graphics makeup up a big portion of the whole “Remastered” part of the title, you and I both know that the music is probably a BIG reason you’re more than likely going to play this game, and yes; the music in DuckTales: Remastered is awesome. I could listen to the music in the title screen for hours and I don’t know one person in my life that can’t sing that song in some form or another. The music for DuckTales: Remastered has been given an updated, more orchestral sound while staying close to the source music, and a few new pieces have been added for the new areas of the game. One thing that’s really nice is that you can switch back to the original 8-bit score from the main menu if you want to listen to the new and old music in the style of the original game.

One of the most surprising features of DuckTales: Remastered is that Disney actually got the surviving members of the DuckTales voice cast to reprise their iconic roles including Alan Young as the money hungry Scrooge McDuck. The story told with the cast of the show and the new talent makes the whole experience feel like it is an actual episode from the show which the original game lacked due to the technological restraints of the time. While I love both versions, DuckTales: Remastered will make a lot more sense to newcomers as they won’t have to scratch their head wondering why you’re on this adventure.

The fun thing about DuckTales: Remastered is that you can compare your times, treasure collecting prowess as well as other stats against other gamers via the leaderboards. You could easily beat the game in under an hour depending on the difficulty, but that would take the fun out of watching the skippable (from pause screen) voiced cutscenes as well as earning all the loot you possibly can to purchase all the extra goodies found in the gallery which will take more than playthrough to buy everything from character art to music to artwork from the show. There are a lot of secret areas to be found in DuckTales: Remastered to pad Scrooge’s wallet though some are easier to find than others, and some I found completely by accident.

In the time it took me to sing the theme song, I fell in love with DuckTales: Remastered. Maybe it was the iconic music or the nostalgia of playing a game I loved growing up, but one thing is for sure – I’ll be playing not pony tales or cotton tales, but DuckTales: Remastered (ooh ooooh) for a while to come. The platforming is frustrating at times but still fun, the controls are really tight and human error is the biggest problem that I ran into. DuckTales: Remastered for Xbox Live Arcade can be yours for $15 dollars, but don’t tell Scrooge. He might think he’s been cheated. Make sure you take a dip into your own money vault and download DuckTales: Remastered when it hits the Xbox Live marketplace on September 11th.