Taking a fond memory such as Ducktales and recreating it was always going to be a dangerous game, with producers looking to recapture the original's addictiveness but also make it have some modern appeal. There are many reasons why we do not have remastered versions of classic platformers like Sonic and Mario; where taking the original gameplay would often not work well now as we are more used to certain controls and expectations from our digital games; so going back to what I remember being a fun but very hard game is a huge risk. However DuckTales Remastered is not your straight forward high definition update of a classic game, WayForward have strived to rebuild the game, using the same ideals as the original but overcoming the limited processing power of the NES and, not to take anything away from the original Capcom creators, use more up to date tricks of the trade and creating a modern classic platform game.
Starting with the Beagle Boys raiding Scrooge McDuck’s money bin, Scrooge then goes on the hunt for some of the world’s most valuable treasures whilst also building back his own personal fortunes, though of course there are many other people involved in this globetrotting caper, like Huey, Dewey and Louie, pilot Launchpad and the inventor Gyro who are along for the ride, sometimes helping, more often making things worse and the aforementioned Beagle Boys or Magica De Spell who are trying to stop Scrooge in his treasure grabbing treks.
Setting off with his trusty cane/pogo stick, Scrooge then endures a variety of hazardous platform based adventures. Most of the story and gameplay ideas are relatively untouched; Scrooge still uses his pogo stick to bounce on enemy heads and reach otherwise unreachable treasure chests and just like the original, rather than just a series of levels with different colour palettes to venture through, each level has its own theme and along with this its own unique pitfalls and traps like thick snow restricting the use of Scrooges pogo stick to jump around, rollercoaster mine carts and magical warping mirrors. After having a quick replay of the NES original it is apparent that some of the actual level layouts have been tinkered with somewhat, though for the purists out there fear not as to be honest these changes have been made for the better.
The biggest difference is of course the graphical update and whilst it is not hard to look better than the 8bit original, there is clearly a lot of attention to detail with moving backgrounds adding a lot of depth to the 2D characters. Each level is littered with superbly animated characters that look like they have come straight out of a Disney film, with thumper like rabbits jumping out of the arctic tundra, bats swooping down from the cavern ceilings, mer-ducks jumping form the cold deep water and lumbering duck-mummies walking the corridors of a haunted castle. Perfectly complimenting the visuals is the masterfully blended soundtrack, strumming up nostalgic 8bit beats alongside toe tapping modern effects; add to this a full voice track with most of the TV shows original cast and this shows just how serious WayForward were when taking on this job.
I remember the original being a real tough game to crack and thankfully the difficulty is still there, requiring pixel perfect movements and jumps that with one false move will punish you with either instant death or the loss of one of your crucial hearts, which ironically you can only get more of if you play extremely well and progress through the game.
Alongside Scrooge trying to find rare treasures he is also in the process of refilling his money bin, collecting gems of various sizes from treasure chests and hidden areas in the levels, which Scrooge can then visit his mansion and take a swim in his riches. These diamonds are not only for bragging rights and high scores but also aid in unlocking a huge wealth of extras like level artwork and character sketches.
With remastered or HD updates of classics being very hit and miss, DuckTales Remastered is a clear winner, taking a much loved classic and giving it a modern feel whilst keeping to its classic origins.
Words by Ash Buchanan.
(Version Tested: PS3/PSN)
It’s DuckTales for the digital generation
Looks and sounds fantastic
Lots to unlock
Looks and sounds fantastic
Lots to unlock
Can get hard at times