DuckTales Review

Check out if this classic game is still worth your time two decades after its release.

By Matthew Tidman. Posted 12/01/2010 14:00 1 Comment     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Excellent gameplay, fantastic music, feels like the cartoon series
Poison Mushroom for...
Short length, difficulty of finding it, some annoying sound effects

While Disney Epic Mickey looks to bring Disney out of its gaming slump of nothing truly memorable for many years, there was a time when almost any game with a Disney license was considered to be a great purchase. Whether it was Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers or Disney’s Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse, there was a period of time from the end of the ’80s to the middle of the ’90s where a game featuring one of the Disney Afternoon mainstays was pretty much guaranteed to be a winning pick for the parent of a child who like to play their Nintendo. DuckTales is another one of these success stories, prompting many gamers to have fond memories of the game even two decades after it was released.

What makes the game stand out from the crowd? There are a number of reasons, the biggest of which is that it effectively extended the enjoyment of the hit cartoon series into an interactive game. Scrooge, never one to turn down the hunt for treasure, sets out to find five of the world’s greatest treasures and cement his place as the richest duck in the world. He journeys to the dark mines of Africa, the lush jungle of the Amazon, the snow-covered mountains of the Himalayas, the spooky castle of Transylvania, and eventually to the moon itself in order to find the treasures. In Mega Man fashion (an easy connection to make since the game was developed by Capcom and had many of the same programmers on staff) Scrooge can take on these levels in any order he wishes. Having trouble with the snow of the Himalayas? Maybe it’s time to take on the Moon instead. The game lets you choose your path to find all the treasures… including a couple of secret treasures.

While the game has very little story, the gameplay is where it really shines. Players have to get Scrooge through the various levels collecting as much treasure as possible with only his cane as a weapon. Enemies from bats to martians to Beagle Boys try to waylay Scrooge and his only option is to use his cane to bounce on their heads… or use a golf swing to strike them with a rock or other piece of the scenery. It’s a very flexible system and one that does not get tiresome throughout the whole game. Of course, part of the reason for this is that the game is short. In a recent playthrough of the game, I was able to beat it in under an hour and some speed runners have managed to get the game down to under 10 minutes. However, you can probably find the game at a vintage game store for less than $10, and the game is so fun you’ll probably want to play it over and over again.

The environments in DuckTales are varied and look great for an NES game. Whether it’s the lush jungle or the dank interior of the Transylvanian castle, every level really stands out and feels unique. This feeling is added to thanks to the amazing soundtrack. The Moon theme in particular will have you humming along as you play because it is one of the catchiest pieces of music ever composed for a NES game. The sound effect of dying enemies is enjoyable at first, but it can drag after hearing it for the hundredth time.

DuckTales is one of the best games ever released for the NES, and it earns that distinction even though it’s a licensed game. Unfortunately it’s this very license that makes it unlikely we’ll ever see the game for download on Virtual Console. If you’re in a vintage game shop and have never given the game a spin, it’s time to plunk down the cash to pick it up. It’s well worth it.

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