DuckTales Remastered review

  • Gameplay that’s true to the original
  • New levels and story elements
  • The awesome remixed soundtrack
  • More-linear levels
  • Some arbitrary design changes
  • Unremarkable backgrounds

The original NES version of DuckTales was the exception that proved the rule. Not only was it a fantastic licensed game, but it was a title that was thoroughly enjoyable even if you didn’t give a duck about the property it was attached to, allowing it to stand the test of time and be revered as one of the best games that 8-bit had to offer. Nostalgia is a funny thing, however. Is it possible for Capcom and WayForward to take something that worked 24 years ago, modernize it, and yet retain the heart of what made it so beloved in the first place? The answer, without a doubt, is yes. DuckTales Remastered is a retro revival done right.

The core of DuckTales’ appeal comes down to one simple fact: bouncing on stuff is just plain fun. Using Scrooge McDuck’s cane to pogo-jump on foes such as grumpy gorillas, monstrous mummies, and aggressive aliens--as well as every rock, spiked floor, and bit of scenery you encounter--was a joy in the original 8-bit game, and it’s still a blast now, although in Remastered it’s easier than ever since the controls have been simplified. (Don’t worry; you can opt for the classic control scheme if you’re feeling masochistic.) Springing through the environments, launching to new heights off of enemies, and searching every nook and cranny for precious gems to fill Scrooge’s money bin hasn’t lost any of its appeal over the years. Uncle Scrooge’s golf swing is intact, too, although it remains underutilized.

"DuckTales Remastered is a retro revival done right."

Complementing the excellent platforming action is a series of brilliantly designed levels. All five stages from the original game--the Amazon, Transylvania, the African mines, the Himalayas, and the moon--are back, along with a new opening tutorial level set in Scrooge’s vault and a new final stage in lava-filled Mt. Vesuvius. (The final level is an especially nice touch, because, in an uncharacteristically weak design choice, the original game’s finale simply recycled the Transylvania level.) As for the five returning stages, you can still tackle them in whatever order you’d like, and they take the majority of their design cues from the NES game.

But these aren’t merely classic levels with a modern paint job. Thanks to the addition of ample well-written cut-scenes (fully voiced by the original talent from the DuckTales cartoon), each stage now unfolds like a miniature TV episode that gives context to the adventure and brings the characters’ personalities to life, and there’s an overarching plot that ties it all together. Without a doubt, Remastered is built to appeal to fans of the DuckTales property even more than the original game did. (And if you just want to get on with the action, fear not; the cut-scenes are easily skipped.)

"Complementing the excellent platforming action is a series of brilliantly designed levels." 

Furthermore, veteran players will be quick to notice that numerous changes have been made to the levels. Whereas the original game featured nonlinear level layouts and allowed you to play through the stages using whatever route you wanted, Remastered presents numerous key-and-lock scenarios that require you to visit certain points on the map before proceeding onward, resulting in a somewhat more guided approach to each stage. This is especially noticeable in the African mines, which has traded its multiple sprawling paths for a surprisingly linear design. Overall the changes aren’t detrimental, but hardcore fans will no doubt wonder why a path now goes right instead of left, scoff at the omission of moving platforms, and ask why the two hidden bonus treasures have been removed.

Even though some aspects of the original have been dropped, there are plenty of new elements to make up for them. There are now permanent health-ups for you to track down in every level (they were found in only two stages of the original), as well as occasional mini-boss fights, such as an aerial battle against Scrooge’s rival Flintheart Glomgold above the Himalayas. End-of-level boss battles have been greatly expanded, too. Their patterns are much more complex, and they take significantly more damage than they did back in the day. There’s an in-game map to aid your quest, as well; you can give it a permanent home on your GamePad screen if you’re playing the Wii U edition.

"...veteran players will be quick to notice that numerous changes have been made to the levels."

No matter which version you play, though, you’ll be treated to excellent graphics and sound. The high-res, redrawn character sprites look every bit as good as an actual Disney cartoon, boasting amazing attention to detail and WayForward’s trademark top-notch animation. (Scrooge’s dive into his money bin looks especially nifty.) The polygonal environments aren’t nearly as impressive, but they get the job done. Meanwhile, the music is absolutely superb. DuckTales has always had a catchy soundtrack, but composer Jake Kaufman has gone above and beyond with some astoundingly good remixes. Sure, the moon theme has always been a favorite, so its quality is to be expected, but the other tunes are equally irresistible, particularly Transylvania and the African mines. If you’re feeling really old-school, you can opt to play the game with the original NES tracks instead; the game even features all-new 8-bit-style music for the vault and Mt. Vesuvius.

Topping off the package are tons of unlockables--concept drawings, character sketches, artwork from the TV show, and more--that extend the game’s lifespan beyond the couple of hours it’ll take you to reach the ending. Whether you’re a Disney devotee, a retro enthusiast, or just a fan of well-crafted platformers, there’s plenty to enjoy. Though DuckTales Remastered might not live up to its esteemed precursor in every single regard, it surpasses it in others, and ends up incredibly fun on the whole. Woo-hoo indeed.

This game was reviewed on Wii U.

More Info

Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U
Genre: Platformer
Published by: Capcom
Developed by: WayForward
ESRB Rating:
Everyone: Mild Cartoon Violence
Chris Hoffman

Former senior editor of Nintendo Power, current editor at Mac|Life. Fan of RPGs, Mega Man, The Legend of Zelda, Ace Attorney, and Japanese gaming in general. The last survivor of Lithone.



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  • Boonehams - August 16, 2013 10:21 a.m.

    I'm guessing it doesn't have the original game as an unlockable extra or an alternate playing option, does it? 'Cause that would be a shame.
  • db1331 - August 13, 2013 11:15 a.m.

    It's also on PC, and costs $5 less. I was amused to see it was reviewed on the Wii U though.
  • winner2 - August 12, 2013 10:19 a.m.

  • zymn - August 12, 2013 8:18 a.m.

    How dare you guys not bring Antista back for this review.
  • shawksta - August 12, 2013 1:55 p.m.

    To be fair, he's part of Capcom now, or atleast the blog. It would be like reviewing his own companies game
  • BladedFalcon - August 12, 2013 6:50 a.m.

    Bless me bagpipes! I had already pre-ordered the game, so that should tell how excited I am for the game. And it's very encouraging to see that it'll deliver on what I was hoping ^^
  • Swedish_Chef - August 12, 2013 2:53 a.m.

  • g1rldraco7 - August 12, 2013 2:43 a.m.

    Nice to see a fair review for a change.
  • shawksta - August 12, 2013 12:37 a.m.

  • Temperance11 - August 12, 2013 5:38 a.m.

    "Gamespot" There's your problem...
  • BladedFalcon - August 12, 2013 6:39 a.m.

    Not to mention that the reviewer there was Tom mcshea, a guy notoriously known for being overly cynical and negative on otherwise acclaimed games. That, and if you actually read the review, you'll notice that it just has a bone to pick from the get go, bitching about the ducktales theme song even though that has NOTHING to do with the gameplay. Oh, and apparently having a fleshed out story and voice acting is a BAD thing now, even though you can simply skip them if you choose.
  • shawksta - August 12, 2013 10:19 a.m.

    Tom mcshea is a rather interesting person. He doesn't let any hype or any acclaim of a series diminish or overhype his mind. Which should be a neat feature except he's too harsh as well. I think his issue with the Ducktales theme is that trailers would just repeat the music and that's what people would focus instead of new gameplay mechanics. But he always find his way of harsh into it regardless. He was also, in a word, misplaced to review Last of Us which he gave an 8 for not really having anything worthwhile gameplay wise but still acknowledging its narrative. But its not as bad as Gamespot giving Carolyn puzzle games that she still gives decent to mediocre scores to because she simply hates puzzle games.
  • BladedFalcon - August 12, 2013 12:02 p.m.

    "I think his issue with the Ducktales theme is that trailers would just repeat the music and that's what people would focus" ...Except that this is completely false. The Ducktales theme was only really use in the REVEAL trailer for the game, and for good reason. Every single trailer afterwards has focused on showcasing the different areas of the game with the stage's own music. So complaining about that feels shallow and just looking for negative things to rag on about. My other issue is that his complaints contradict themselves, first he bitches about the enemies and level design being boring and too easy. But THEN complain about the lives system making it frustrating to repeat a level again and again... But why would that ever be an issue if the game is "so easy" then? >_> Not to mention that the rest of his complaints misses the point because THAT'S HOW OLD SCHOOL GAMES WORK. His only possible legitimate complaint would be if it's true that the controllers are imprecise and unresponsive, but seeing that all the other reviews so far never even mention it, I have to wonder if that's even true at all. Since if true, it would be too big a problem to NOT mention it otherwise. I am not a gamespot regular, to be honest, and I don't know enough about McShea's reviews to judge him as a whole. But based on this review alone it honestly feels like he was just out to destroy the game from the get go, and was just looking for things to bitch about as he went on. Kinda like what Yahtzee does, which is what makes him fun to listen to but never to take his opinion seriously.
  • shawksta - August 12, 2013 2:12 p.m.

    He made an interesting article afterwards that pushes his point on the subject of why he hated Ducktales being nostalgia. It has its ups and downs on his opinion as there are exceptions and such but this is what he believes
  • BladedFalcon - August 12, 2013 4:40 p.m.

    Well, there you go, he has a belief that drives his opinion and ultimately the score of his review. Thus coloring it in a way that serves more his hatred of nostalgia rather than a fair assessment of the game. I wouldn't really call that justified. And yes, everyone has different opinions, but if even professional reviewers stop trying to be objective and just review a game from a purely subjective standpoint, then what's the point of reading those instead of fan reviews?