If there has ever been a video game out there that is deserving of an HD remake, it’s DuckTales for the NES. Despite being one of best games of all time, it’s also a game I never thought would see the light of an HD remake. Released in an age filled with Zeldas and Metroids, it was certainly the oddity of the bunch. As an obsessive fan of Disney’s Duck Universe, you can only imagine how excited I was when DuckTales: Remastered was announced at PAX East. We are talking boners, people.
What terrified me most about the DuckTales: Remastered announcement was a question that strikes fear into the hearts of many – What if it doesn’t hold up? Nostalgia is a fickle beast and despite being the muse for countless musical parodies and fond memories there was always the chance that our judgement was simply clouded by the pure bliss of playing as a duck in space. Well, my children, today I put all of your fears to rest. Like a fine wine, DuckTales has aged with grace.
DuckTales: Remastered (PC, PlayStation 3 [Reviewed], Wii U, Xbox 360)
Released: August 13, 2013 (PC, PS3, Wii U) / September 11, 2013 (360)
When you think about what makes an HD remake, you likely think about updated graphics and compatibility with the latest console generation. While DuckTales: Remastered is visually improved over its predecessor, it also goes above and beyond in many other ways without harming what made the original such a classic. Fear not, all of the side-scrolling goodness and tight controls of the original are still intact. You can still pogo jump around the level by using Scrooge’s cane, which is one of the simplest and most enjoyable mechanics I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing in a video game. The platforming isn’t necessarily deep, but it doesn’t have to be. Newcomers and grizzled veterans alike will be able to jump right in and feel at home.
Since graphics are such an integral part of the HD remake experience, Way Forward hired actual Disney artists that have worked on the DuckTales TV show and comics to work on the character sprites and backgrounds to give Remastered the truest depiction of DuckTales it could offer. That was money well spent, as all of the in-game art is simply breathtaking. To compliment the updated graphics, the soundtrack has also been remixed. It’s true to the source and nothing too drastically impressive over it’s dated counterpart, but it’s still a joy to listen to. Originalists have the option to change the tunes to their 8-bit equivalent if that’s more of their cup of musical tea.
What I consider to be a welcome addition to DuckTales: Remastered is the increase in required objectives to complete each stage. When a world is as special as the one in DuckTales, why wouldn’t you want to spend as much time in each level as possible? I’ll admit, this can result in a lot of backtracking, but I never found it to be exhausting. All of the required objects show up on the map, so if you do get stuck a quick glance at the map will point you in the right direction. The objectives give the game a welcome level of depth the original was sadly lacking.
Speaking of lacking depth, the original’s boss battles were a joke in terms of gameplay. They could easily be dodged and defeated just by pogoing over them. In DuckTales: Remastered, all of the boss battles have been completely reworked. While some are still repetitive and drawn out longer than they should be, most have a new level of depth added to their encounters that makes their defeat quite delicious.
Breaking up the gameplay and offering a big warm hug to the true DuckTales fans is the addition of fully voiced in-game cutscenes. All of the dialog in the game has been recorded by the surviving members of the DuckTales TV show, so that alone is worth the purchase as far as I’m concerned. The dialog sets up each level and occurs throughout in a true story fashion. While it could hamper the progress of speed-runners, the voice-acting makes DuckTales: Remastered feel like so much more than a simple HD remake. With the cutscenes, you should be able to complete DuckTales: Remastered in around two to three hours, maybe less if you have that shit on lock.
Much like how the original set the bar for licensed games, DuckTales: Remastered has set the bar for HD remakes. It’s an improvement over the original and blew away my expectations. DuckTales: Remastered is a fan service that lovers of the original game, the TV show, and platformer enthusiasts can appreciate. It’s short, but worth its weight in gold. It has all of the charm you would expect from the DuckTales namesake and is an experience that should be shared throughout the generations to come.