Capcom had teased a big announcement was coming to PAX East this year, and many assumed that it would be some next-gen sequel, or maybe even a brand new franchise. Instead, the publisher had a treat for the NES fanboy in all of us: DuckTales Remasterd. This was big news to aging gamers who grew up in the 1980s alongside the cartoon, but why does it matter to those that didn’t grow up watching Disney Afternoon? Because it seems to be a sterling example of how to properly handle a remake.
Though we reserve the right to be wrong, this looks like it’ll be one of the best remakes around. For starters...
The sprites have been redrawn with care
The original DuckTales is on the high end of pixelated graphics, and even today there’s a certain beauty to the game’s blocky interpretation of the Disney cartoon. But those same static sprites just wouldn’t work the same today, even if cleaned up for HD. Unlike those other remakes, WayForward seems to have started from square one with the characters, reanimating every character in colorful, clean Disney-caliber art. Most importantly for animation nerds, Scrooge McDuck’s outfit has shifted from red to blue to finally match his cartoon counterpart. It’s a move many port houses wouldn’t have bothered with.
An actual plot is being added
Capcom and WayFord are also doing this remake the right way by giving it something the original game never had: context. Outside of pure greed, there was never much explanation for why Uncle Scrooge was running around the world grabbing precious stones. New story scenes have been added to the game in the hopes of clearing things up--though we can't help but wonder if there's a logical explanation for why Scrooge can breathe on the moon?
There's new voicework that reunites the cartoon cast
The redone animation and story moments are enough to make hardcore duck fans hope for new episodes of DuckTales. And while that isn’t happening, Capcom has already confirmed that the game will reunite the surviving voice cast of the show to reprise their roles in the game. That even goes for Uncle Scrooge, played by the 93-year-old Alan Young, the man that’s been playing the world’s richest duck since 1983. Adding new voice work to a classic game can occasionally be a shaky proposition, but it feels like a perfectly natural addition to DuckTales, and it’s above and beyond the call for most remakes.
There are new levels that make sense
Like plot and voice work, the NES version of DuckTales was also lacking something among its many settings. You may have gotten to explore the Amazon and Transylvania, but you never got to visit Scrooge’s famous money bin. Now players will be able to swim around in a virtual recreation of the cash pile in addition to a Duckburg Museum that grows alongside your progress, plus some other new stages Capcom isn’t ready to announce yet. In many remakes the added levels usually falter when compared to the original’s, but DuckTales’ all sound like things that should have been there in the first place.
The soundtrack is being respected
The NES was home to many iconic chiptunes that we’re still humming to this day, including songs from The Legend of Zelda, Castlevania, and Mega Man. However, game music connoisseurs often list DuckTales’ soundtrack as one of the best ever made. Particular attention is given to the Moon theme. Capcom has confirmed the old tunes will be there, though they’ll be remastered just like the graphics, which is all well and good--but there better be an option to switch the NES version of those tunes.
The NES gameplay is intact
Beyond the art, music, voicework, and story, staying true to the original’s gameplay is what ultimately matters in a remake. DuckTales looks to get that right, with screens and footage showing Scrooge pogoing on his cane and knocking rocks at enemies like they’re golf balls, just like the old days. However, Capcom has stated there are new controls without much explanation, but as long as they stay as precise as the first game’s, we’re fine with it.
Or rewrite history...
Are you excited for DuckTales Remastered, or are you still worried that this remake could underwhelm like so many in the past? You can tell us in the comments, or you could simply share your favorite DuckTales cartoon memories. Either way, we don’t mind.
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