2. DuckTales | 1989
Shut the hell up, sapling! There was something incredibly special about playing as an elderly, 8-bit duck. But admittedly, it may require more nostalgia than the bodies of today’s thirteen-year-olds are capable of producing. Now, if you’ll step into the Wayback Machine with us, we’ll transport you back to a time when games based off of popular TV cartoons weren’t in the abundance you dread today.
Above: Bleh Games Not Developed by Capcom: Yogi Bear’s Math Adventures, Thundercats, G.I. Joe, and Mickey Mousecapade
Even as the nineties approached, the few that saw the light of day were generally terrible, ridiculously hard, unrecognizable, and perhaps worst of all, educational. DuckTales changed all that, and raised the bar for all Disney games until the end of the 2D platform era. Scrooge and Co were instantly recognizable, and were adapted admirably to five of the most colorfully distinctive levels you ever did see.
Above: Japanese title - The Adventures of Miserly Mallard and the Incredible Skill Cane!
More importantly, there was a balance present in DuckTales that most of its contemporaries didn’t seem to give a shit about. Gamers young and old could easily adapt the Mr. McDuck’s kill cane and duckly skill set at the difficulty of their choosing. For realz, the branching pathways, hidden treasures and secrets offered a helluva lot more depth than many of you probably remember.
Above: What was the last cartoon show you remember making a magazine cover?
Yes, yes – anybody with a “7” in the fifth digit of their bankroll knows that Launchpad McQuack will whisk you away to the Gyro Gearloose bonus level. But how many of you saw this ending:
And how many of you utilized those return trips to Duckburg to amass a fortune larger than most GDPs and witnessed this gluttonous alternate ending:
Above: “Show me me money!”
We can’t help but recollect fondly on these easter eggy moments. Without YouTube and Wikipedia to cross reference the rumors of recess, the only way to confirm or deny their existence was to get in there and see for yourself. Few games rewarded such gumshoe playthroughs, yet with the finely honed gameplay, and perhaps the best music to ever come out of the 8-bit era, DuckTales was, and is, well worth endlessly revisiting.
Above: The Moon theme may quite possibly be the finest 8-bit composition of all time
You could call it a more forgiving version of Mega Man, but either way there was a level of quality present that blindsided the gaming populace fairly late in the NES’s lifespan. Unfortunately, by the time DuckTales received the sequel it so richly deserved in 1993, most gamers were too riveted to their 16-bit systems to care. Worse still, Capcom lost the license and the folks who squabble over pennies continue to deny us a Virtual Console release to this very day.
Digital Disney Trivia: DuckTales is Capcom’s highest selling game on the NES and Game Boy! Yes, more than any Mega Man even.
1. Kingdom Hearts | 2002
An unprecedented collision of cultural importance! We don’t know what planets had to align to make this crossover happen, but sometimes we have to go back and check to make sure it actually did. And if you think America’s response to a game featuring the characters from Final Fantasy and Disney was overwhelming, try and imagine the mass pants wetting that ensued in Japan as two of their most beloved icons met for the first time.
So, in order to justify the OG Kingdom Hearts we need to explain what kept KHII out of the top spot.
1. Face it: The first Kingdom Hearts is an all around better game. The story was essentially setting the stage, so it wasn’t so wrapped up in Multiverse conspiracies and baffling side character introductions we now know were meant to kickstart loosely related properties.
Above: Dammit, Get the hell outta the way, Roxas! I’m tryin’ to play Kingdom Hearts
Nestled between the geekgasm of meet-and-greets, players enjoyed an immensely rewarding character progression and unlockables tucked away under a fairly intuitive combat system. While Kingdom Hearts II would improve upon minor aspects, they reduced the otherwise stellar Keyblazin’ to little more than button mashing, presumably to convince a timid Western audience to take the plunge into a fairly dense RPG.
Above: What ever happened to these guys, KHII?
2. Whether it was in an effort to further ensnare the kiddies, or just to shamelessly hock Disney’s more contemporary properties, many classic characters like Pinocchio and Alice were given diminished roles in favor of films fresh out of multiplexes. In the first game you could rescue Geppetto, summon Bambi and Dumbo, and find hidden Dalmatians to unlock a secret ending that you couldn’t possibly find on YouTube because it didn’t exist yet. So, no offense to Chicken Little and Stitch but… they aren’t exactly the characters universally beloved by gamers age 8 to 80.
Above: Actually, f**k Chick Little!
Sure, we didn’t get a lot of Mickey in the first game, but that was well compensated for by several generations worth of characters your grandparents remember just as well as you do. Conversely, KHII’s renewed focus on characters actively being printed on the most beach towels also meant having to retread through stages that didn’t have the same impact the second time around, like Tarzan’s jungle, Herc’s Olympus Coliseum and Agrablah. And that’s not to mention a certain pace-shattering area that was sort of cute… once!
Above: Seriously, Pooh? Your world is falling apart!
Call our bluff - go play it right now! The only thing antiquated about the original Kingdom Hearts is a wonky camera, some slightly awkward platforming and some outdated textures. Other than that, the game is still animated with unsurpassed beauty and holds up ridiculously well. Regular readers will be quick to call us out as being biased towards all old Disney bullshit, to which we’ll reply “So what?”
Above: A desperate plea from our Top 7... Games we want announced at E3 ‘09
Seriously, get it while you can! There appears to be something “Epic” on the horizon, and that’ll undoubtedly have an effect on Kingdom Hearts’ future, and possibly, its availability…
Digital Disney Trivia: FFVII villain Sephiroth was somehow voiced by N*SYNC’s Lance Bass?! How many people had to cancel?
Above: Seriously, click to enlarge and save as your wallpaper
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