A BIT of Nostalgia: Ducktales

Look at the past, my darling Island Guests!
Game are and Strange and Vast, Filled with wonders and tests.
Face each old game with eyes clear and true!
Today will be awesome..as I play Ducktales Woooohoo.

Pinkie is going to piss some people of with these opinions

Incredible respect for those who were able to sing that opening rather than reading it! We are kindred spirits. Today I re-review what is possibly a contender for my most favorite game ever. Along with Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger this game means so much to me. So I will already tell you it might receive a high score!  I wanted to see if my treasured gem still could stand the face of time. It sure did.  While it’s length is very short in this day and age, that applied to many other games. What it still gives is an amazing unique mechanical platform experience.  A game that heavily inspired Crankey’s Moveset in the later Donkey Kong games and of course the noble Shovel Knight. This without a shadow of doubt in my mind is the single best licensed game ever made. Beating Turtles in Time, Epic Mickey , Kingdom Hearts and even GoldenEye.

The reason it’s better than those last two, DuckTales hasn’t aged as poorly. It’s controls are still butter smooth in its simplicity, the enemy attack patterns still work and challenge you, the hunt for the best ending is not that hard because the game lasts about an hour  or so if you  are a bit thorough but well versed in it. Maybe a bit less even. Despite of it being easy there is a sense of joy in hunting these treasures and playing these stages which all are quite diverse. We have a jungle theme level, a horror themed level, an underground one, a snow and ice themed one and of course the moon. Home to my most beautiful memory and my favorite song ever..probably. Every stage has just a bit of a different feeling and some secrets to unlock. Mind you.. there is not much secrets.. but is just a great joy to boot this game up a few times and just play through these great stages. GoldenEye’s controls now deeply disappointed and Kingdom Hearts gameplay really shows its age when it comes to collecting and progress.

She is totally being genuine though she really loves this game!

The graphics are vibrant for NES all sprites are very recognisable for what they should be. Even the tribal guys I can still very distinctly tie to when they encountered similar character in the series.  Yet for some weird reason Dewey wears green look Louis.. why?!  It’s a quirk I always wandered about and one the excellent remakes fixes, yet now that I played the original I can say I vastly prefer it over the remake. The speed of which you can run through this game is what makes it so timeless. The Remake added some extra exploratory requirements to all stages, that are much more in your face.  You need to do so.. in the original .. you COULD do that if you want. If you want the good ending it is probably wise. You can also make things very hard for yourself and try to get the bad ending (which is extremely hard to do.. without hacking nigh impossible) It’s that type of game that isn’t very challenging but you make your own challenge for.. We can do that to old games but Ducktales lends itself even better for such things than Mario because of its  unique jumping system (at the time).

This whole game is build around the pogo jump! A bouncy but deadly way of attacking using a cane. I guess if Dr Jekyll tried this out he might have not had such a sucky NES game.  The pogo stick is unique to Ducktales even though it later got mimicked.. this was the main gimmick of the game and boy was it used well. In a way Mario stole from ducktales when they came  up with the spin jump as it basically does everything the pogo jump does. It allows you to bounce of spiky objects or in mario’s case spike enemies. It can break blocks and it destroyed enemies.  When Mario steals from you when it comes to platforming you know you are on the right track. The life system is also nicely done in Ducktales. Lives are finite and a single game over makes you start all over but you can spend  money for extra lives as well as find extra lives and health upgrades across the stages. This means that you always have to balance exploring and clearing with each other. Getting sidetracked may drain your life..but you might gain life as well. Even if there is not you can buy lifes using your overworld score make sure you reach the end.. but without having the best ending.  Balanced!

Seriously if this game was an anime girl she would waifu it!

Ducktales is not hard to beat, not even on the harder difficulties , it’s fairly forgiving and any mistakes you make are your fault, there is little cheap enemies here or impossible to dodge attacks.  You just need to learn…or remember by heart because you played this game so much. Yet Ducktales would have been made for younger kids most likely so it makes sense they get a game of this difficulty. When I was a kid it had the perfect difficulty for me and now.. now I just need to expand my challenges from time to time.  Back in the 80’s and early 90’s this was a common practice in gaming.  “I challenge you to beat Mario 1-1 without collecting a  single coin’  ‘Beat Glass Joe without taking a single hit’  we used to egg each other on for extra challenges. In fact Nintendo even made a few retro collection games around this concept.

Ducktales is very cleverly designed in a way that this game can be used in such a way. We have a money score we can use for high-scores, there is a timer we can race with, there is several routes and additional tricky obstacles and several methods of traversing obstacles that making challenge each other or yourself  is super fun. While maybe not especially designed around it back than that was possible. Nowadays games hold your hand to much or offer you so much freedom that a choice of playstyle is irrelevant.  Playing a  game alternatively now doesn’t work because either a game tells you to finish this boss with X or there are 20.994 ways to defeat a boss and your chosen options is just.. one.

While the Ducktales game could use some more iconic bosses the whole world building still feels like a part of it’s world.  Of course we have the boss from the African Mines which directly links to the show and the Magica Despell fight in Transilvania , a moon rat and and an amazone statue feel a bit meh. Why not Glomgold or Mother Beagle? Yet I do feel the statue and the moon rat really make sense at the same time.. like they are supposed to be there.   Where most video game enemies can feel forced in, I never had that much with Ducktales.. except for some Beagle Boys underneath the surface of the moon. Effort went into building this world and back then.. Capcom basically was the only one to really do that.. at least in such a diverse setting. It is simple but it works and thus it becomes timeless.

Yep she is gonna talk about THAT again! Crazy Fangirl Alert

Of course Ducktales biggest charm is it’s presentation. All the characters  except for Dewey look like their series counterpart. You can tell everything apart. Purple was a colour that could not be implemented in the game so Magica Despell and Miss Beakley have some weird moments, but they are in there, you know who they are without reading a manual and they do what you expect.

Everything does what you expect..well maybe not Turbo because he doesn’t crash but can actually fly! Still despite of it’s limited graphics I never had trouble imagining how it would look like, plenty of iconic characters are hidden throughout the game. There is just a lot of love for the series and gaming in general in this little cartridge and it shows…. and  is audible
Yes time to gush about the moon theme as well. One of the most iconic video game music pieces of all time. Yet also the opening theme using the actual series theme was great, the sound when you climb up a vine or rope, the theme in the amazon.. the sound your pogos-tick makes. It’s all fantastic. 

I seriously spend about two minutes in the amazon just climbing up and down on the first rope just to hear those sounds again..searched for the hidden  room in Transylvania so I had to do a lot of mini pogo bounces. It all is just perfect for a platformer. This is what my childhood sounds like.  Wiggu Wiggu Wiggu and the Moon Theme. This music still leads a life to this day..making its way into official new products, becoming cannon in ducktales lore. Capcom where the masters of video game soundtracks and this one is amazing once again.

2:50 for some good Wiggu Wiggu Wiggu Action

I could stretch this post out and pretend like I care about the minor flaws like how it was not needed to press down to activate the pogo, or how the mine carts have a bit of a sticky control scheme making them needlessly tricky.  I could tell you about a scene where Scrooge actually tosses his cousins off a cliff with a minecart he is riding and telling you they could have done that differently. No.. that all doesn’t matter. Nowadays we think a 10/10 game should have no flaws and we should remorselessly point out everything that is wrong with it. That is not right. A 10/10 game to me is a game that is so fun to play that despite its flaws you will boot it up again. Each time you play, regardless if it crashes regardless if controls can glitch a bit or some elements seem wrong, you smile. 

Ducktales is a game I love so sooo much that whatever flaws are in there.. don’t matter to me. It has no impact on my experience with the game. Each time I beat this game and I think I have beaten it (across both version) well over 30 times now (if not closer to 50) and each I keep on smiling. Each playthrough as fun as it was my first. Ducktales was the first game I loved.. so in a way this is my Number 1 Dime.. this is what made me a gamer and when I play it today I still feel.. this is why I am a gamer.  No matter if listen to the soundtrack, play a single stage or complete the game, when I play Ducktales I feel like the richest person/duck in the world.

7 thoughts

    1. Its capcom! Without this, Shovel Knight would also not exist, nor would Crankey Kongs moveset in tropical Freeze, sometimes the most unlikely of games can make an impact! Its fairy well known for its quality still, the remake was great too

      Like

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