Top 100 Retro Game List: Duck Tales

Duck Tales
Nintendo Entertainment System

I was really excited when I heard about the Disney Afternoon Collection that Digital Eclipse put together and they did a great job with the Mega Man Legacy Collection, of course, but my main reason for looking forward to it was the opportunity to play a nice reissue of Duck Tales.

I have a friend who has argued that Duck Tales is a top 5 game not only on the NES, but of all time. I could absolutely see that. This game is so fun and absolutely invigorated the platformer genre at the time. The play control, which often hindered platformers to the point of unplayability, is so smooth and makes playing the game so much more interesting.

The plot of Duck Tales goes something like this: Scrooge McDuck travels the world, and outer space, trying to find treasure. His nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie assists as does a few other characters from the cartoon assist him through different levels.

Nintendo Power did a preview for the game in the July 1990 issue. Duck Tales was on the cover of the September issue with a long guide to the game. I wish I had remembered to look up the warp mirror chart they have in it; that would have saved me some time while I was playing for sure.

I watched the Duck Tales cartoon a lot back then. It was on after school on WPIX. I remember feeling clever as I realized the new show in the block would always be at 430 and once a show got to 3pm it would be moved off. The theme for the show is really catchy, and one of my friends used to sing it in a very loud voice to annoy people.

I had forgotten Capcom was involved with the excellent Mickey Mousecapades game. Some of the Mega Man staff were also involved with Duck Tales, which makes the smooth play control and great soundtrack make a lot more sense.

The cover for Duck Tales has the classic Capcom framing with an action scene that is loosely from the game. I love the uniformity of covers for companies like Konami, Capcom, and others. When you saw one of their games in a store, you knew already, in some ways, what to expect from it.

Duck Tales is a hard game to reissue because of the obvious licensing issues with Disney. There is a fairly stripped down version on the Gameboy that takes away any difficulty at all and destroys the fantastic soundtrack. The wonderful moon theme we played earlier is turned into a tinny nightmare. It was ported to the PS3 a few years ago with some additional content. I have played a little bit of it and liked the game, but it just made me wanted a reissue of the original version even more.

This game is as fun as it was over 25 years ago. Capcom was the absolute go to company for platformers back then whether Mega Man, Ghouls and Ghosts, Bionic Commando, or their Disney games. Duck Tales has play control that is almost as smooth as Mega Man II. A modern gamer could pick this game up easily and feel at home.

While Duck Tales is not as difficult as I remember it being, there are still some pretty difficult portions of the game. Because the game is so fun to play, repeating parts of stages to practice is fun and worthwhile. No part of Duck Tales feels as insufferable as modern “tough” games that turn me off so much.

This is also a game that wears a lot of its influences, beyond obviously Mega Man, on its sleeve. There are fake walls, warps, and high ceilings to climb ala Super Mario Brothers. Some of the stage structures remind me of Castlevania. By late 1989, there were already many styles to pull from when creating a new game, and it shows in the next wave of games that came out. This is really the golden age of platformers, isn’t it?

There are a few minor issues. The lack of saves in the original is a really brutal choice, but given how short the game is not that surprising. I only had to save a few times, but definitely took advantage of it. Enemy regeneration is sometimes weird in the game too. I got knocked out of screens a few times by oddly regenerated enemies.

Honestly, just go get the Disney Afternoon Collection. Who knows how long it will even be available, so you might as well get it now. This is a fantastic game that has held up amazingly well.

STREAMS…no streams…how did we never stream this game!?

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