Review by Psycho Penguin
"There's the danger right behind you, there's a stranger out to find you..."
I received a copy of Duck Tales for NES a few years ago, and to say I was delighted would be a true understatement. For those of you that don't know, Duck Tales is one of the best cartoons Disney ever put in television format. Duck Tales was one of my all time favorite shows growing up, along with Rescue Rangers, Tale Spin, and Darkwing Duck. Featuring a grandfather duck who was nice and rich, the episodes usually revolved around one of two things: Scrooge McDuck's (nice play on names, huh?) ability to always find trouble, or his goal to scour out unique and awesome treasure around the world.
That's where the storyline of the game manages to kick in. You take control of Scrooge, who goes to one of five unique lands to clear out all the treasure he could possibly find. Along the way he will meet up with all sorts of unique baddies, so don't think the game will be a cakewalk. The storyline is pretty simple: you have to find all the treasures in the world. Of course, your family members and friends show up, but they are reduced to miniscule side roles that it appears Capcom just added them in for fun. Your grandson (grand ducks?) will just give you pointers if you find them, for instace. Just like Phil Jackson! I wonder if they held out for money in Duck Tales 2..
The graphics aren't exactly the greatest in the world, either, and represent another minor flaw in addition to the storyline. The backgrounds are the biggest culprit here, as they are poorly detailed and the variety isn't exactly the best. For instance, in one stage, there will be mostly a black background that isn't exactly detailed nicely or properly designed. The game doesn't look as good as Rescue Rangers simply because of the level backgrounds, but the enemy designs aren't exactly in the same league, either. Most of the enemies are far too weird, and the same ones will show up too much. The bosses are very nicely designed though, and the game isn't the worst thing you will ever see, but judging from the quality of the previous Capcom efforts, I really did expect a lot more, and was disappointed as to what I found.
Another element of Capcom games that always managed to be good, along with the graphics, is music. How does Duck Tales fare? While it is not the greatest sounding game of all time, the music certainly does not disappoint, and will fit your style just fine. And thank god Capcom decided to include the classic Duck Tales theme to it. It would have been even better with words, as it's one of the best songs EVER, but it's still great in instrumental format. The problem with the actual music here is that there are five stages, and the variety of music you will hear is SO different, that you probably won't like all of the songs. I found myself liking only about 3 of the 5 songs a lot, and hating the other 2. The song on the Moon was one that particularly got on my nerves, and I'd kill ymself before listening to the Transylavania theme again. I really enjoyed the Amazon theme, though. The sound effects are decent enough, I suppose, and you didn't have to hear an annoying sound effect every time Scrooge jumped or looked up or hit an enemy, so that always helps.
The controls are something that might prove to get on your nerves, though. While jumping and doing other things may prove to be easy enough, you'll soon find yourself annoyed with the pogo stick Scrooge chooses to employ in this game. He not only uses this to jump from platform to platform, he also uses it to kill enemies, and sometimes he won't actually use the pogo stick the exact way you will want him to use it, and a cheap hit will result. The weird pogo stick mechanics also come into play when you want to do some platform jumping or complete a challenging part of the stage, and that certainly never helps. The controls are simply too weird and hurt the quality of the game too much to qualify as decent, sadly, and are simply subpar.
Fortunately, the game does manage to be a lot of fun and is quite varied. The game automatically starts off with a Mega Man-ish feel. The uniqueness of this game is that you get to choose the order of the 5 stages. If you feel like going to the Moon before the Pyramids, then you can do so with no trouble. You can even go back to the select screen if you meet up with your pilot buddy during the stage. Once you get into the stages, the fun begins. Each one is pretty unique and has lots of enemies to kill. You kill them using the pogo stick, and you can also use this pogo stick to jump really high to get to hard-to-reach areas. In the stages, you can collect diamonds, which are a fun element of the game. Before you accuse me of being biased for not liking item collecting in next generation games, it just feels more fun here. Plus, boss fights are nice and challenging and provide an excellent boost to the overall gameplay.
Sadly, Duck Tales has too many design flaws to be considered a true classic. The stages often rely too much on gimmicky level designs instead of straight up challenge. For instance, in the Transylvania stage, which I have yet to complete without devoting a large amount of my gaming time to, you have to complete a confusing maze to get through the stage. The maze is borderline INSANE, as there are so many mirrors to go through, items to collect, and enemies to kill, that it will confuse the average person to death. That's the single biggest problem with Duck Tales. It's a fun game, with challenging enemies, and some challenging areas, and instead of focusing on these, they had to go with the gimmicks.
Plus, this game just doesn't feel too fun for me for some odd reason. Maybe it's because of the fact that the stage designs are too boring and confusing. Maybe because it's that I can't kill enemies as much as I'd want to because the damn pogo stick won't allow me to. I just don't know what it is, but this game has a bit of an empty feeling to it. Instead of making me feel like I'm doing something productive or important, I feel like I am wasting my time playing a subpar game when I could be playing a much better game. Of course, everyone else loved this game, so you are probably just going to look at my review and say ''BAH HE FOUND BAD POINTS CLICK NO'', but I'm serious, I just never got this feeling out of my heart. I wish I could have found a lot positive to say, as it's a really fun game, and deserving of the score it got, but there's too much flaws here for the game to be considered an all time great.
That's why I never found myself coming back to this one too much. The game doesn't have the appeal of a Rescue Rangers or the cute factor of a Mickey's Mousecapades. The stage designs rely too much on confusing the hell out of me, and collecting diamonds and other treasure is a fun task, but it gets annoying a little too quickly for my tastes. Plus, the fact that the game only has five stages is a big turn-off, sometimes games are able to pull this off, but only if those five stages are really complex and fun. These stages may be complex, but they're not fun, and the weird controls will certainly not help you want to play through again. Of course, a lot of people loved this game, so maybe you should just regard this opinion since you'll probably want to sleep with it at night.
Don't expect the challenge to add much replay value to the game, either. It's not really the most challenging game in the world, as the game relies too much on complex stage designs and confusing mazes to get its point across instead of actual challenges due to falling ceilings or spikes or enemies or anything like that. Of course, the game has its fair share of those too, don't get me wrong or anything. It's just that the game doesn't rely on its strengths enough. Instead of focusing just on these things which COULD have been challenging, they made an easy game with confusing level designs. Good for them. I wish I could send them all hugs, kisses, and christmas cards, seriously.
I'd like to take this time to thank Capcom for making this game about as bad as they could have, and still managing to make a fun and engrossing game that was just too big for its own good. It's absolutely amazing that this is the worst game in the entire line of Disney games on NES, and it still gets a 7/10 from me. That's how good the series was. It's a totally great series, but this game doesn't quite reach the classic status. I understand what Capcom was trying to accomplish here, but the game was too complex and diverse to be a Disney game. The confusing levels, lack of a proper enemy killing system (jumping never works, I swear, he never lands on them with the pogo stick) and the sense of emptiness I got when playing the game prevents it from reaching the plateau that the other Disney games got to. This is still a mighty fun and interesting game, though, and all fans of the series and fans of fellow Disney games released by Capcom should definitely check it out. I may have found several flaws in it, but maybe you'll love it like everyone else did.
Thanks for reading, and remember, ''We might solve a mystery, or rewrite history!''
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 04/22/00, Updated 07/02/03
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