Out of all the franchises we expected Capcom to bring back to the modern gaming era, DuckTales wasn't one of them. The series has been discontinued for over 20 years now, and the last game we saw based on the franchise was DuckTales 2 back in the NES era.
But somehow Capcom struck a nostalgic core with its fans last week by announcing DuckTales Remastered for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. Fans sang along with the game's theme song with the debut of its trailer, and were surprised to hear about who all was involved with the project. Not only was WayForward, the team behind Contra IV and Mighty Switch Force, handling development but it was also bringing in some big names to help with the project, including musician Jake Kaufman to remix the soundtrack and a number of voice actors from the original TV series refilling their roles.
The game follows a similar storyline to the original NES game. Scrooge McDuck, a rich mallard who isn't one to turn down a challenge, begins traveling across the globe seeking out highly important treasures across a number of locations, from the Amazon to the moon. Along the way, he'll run into enemies trying to stop him in his tracks, including mummies, monkeys, space robots and more.
Though McDuck is no action hero – he doesn't carry a gun of any kind or rely on his crafty nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie to lend a hand – he can do quite a bit of damage with his cane. By walking up to certain objects, he's able to "putt" them golf club style, sending projectiles flying off into enemies or revealing a treasure chest with some monetary worth inside. He also has his famous "pogo stick" move, which allows him to bounce off enemies' heads with ease and also over spikes, as there are some areas that are inaccessible by simply walking through them. "Pogo sticking" is as easy as jumping in the air and pressing down on the analog stick or D-pad – and off he goes.
The game retains a great deal of charm from the original DuckTales game, with a huge emphasis on exploration. You'll have access to an in-game map, so you won't have to worry too much about getting lost. You'll also be able to access a number of secret areas, by going through walls or simple climbing upward past an area that looks closed off. Doing so rewards you with additional treasure, which can easily add up into the millions by the time you're done.
DuckTales Remastered also includes a few mine cart sequences in which you'll have to craftily duck to avoid taking damage from low-hanging walls and jump from one cart to another when it looks like you're about to run out of track. These sequences played rather well in the demo we tried out, just as good – if not better – than the ones in the original NES game.
As for the rest of the gameplay, WayForward is quite loyal to the original DuckTales game. The feeling of "pogo-ing" off of someone's head is not only refreshing (even after all these years), but gives you extra height to obtain out-of-reach treasure boxes – an ideal strategy. There's also a humorous little animation where Scrooge attempts to strike an object, only it doesn't move, and he ends up being a bit frazzled as a result. Don't worry - it doesn't affect his health.
Boss battles also play a fundamental part in DuckTales Remastered. Over the course of our demo, we found ourselves pitted against the Beagle Boys running around in a ghost sheet. The first battle was relatively easy, with three well timed "pogo strikes" to stop him. The other two, however, got a bit trickier, thanks to the involvement of ghosts that must be avoided, as you can't "pogo" them.
But the final boss battle is most noteworthy, as you find yourself facing off against Magica De Spell, an evil sorceress (from the show) that wants Scrooge's treasured lucky dime for herself. Her boss battle involves lightning strikes (which you must jump over to avoid), spinning mirrors (which must be destroyed) and her transformation into a vulture, who swoops in low during certain attacks – leaving her wide open for a jumping attack.
Though the voicework and music are still being finalized, DuckTales Remastered oozes the same level of charm of the original game, and those who missed out on it the first time around will discover quite a treat here. Long-time fans should be appreciative as well, and pick this game up without hesitation when it releases this summer. After all, its success might prompt Capcom to release other Disney-related gems in the current game market. We sure could use a Chip n' Dale's Rescue Rangers with online co-op…