Capcom is having a really good year, providing some fascinating games for the NES! I’ve enjoyed Strider and had an absolutely amazing time with Mega Man 2, so when DuckTales arrived I was both excited and nervous. Most NES games based on licensed properties have been absolute garbage (I’m looking at you Karate Kid, Rambo, Platoon, Superman, Indiana Jones, and so many more) with a few notable exceptions like The Goonies II. This latest game is based on the Disney cartoon currently airing weekdays across the nation. To say Capcom completely nailed it is an understatement – crafting a title that not only will surely appeal to fans of the show, but also to those that simply enjoy good games.
Anyone who has ever watched an episode of the show will feel right at home with the familiar characters making appearances throughout the game. You play as Scrooge McDuck, local millionaire who is in search of treasures scattered across the world. You begin the game by selecting your difficulty setting (easy, normal, difficult) and then you’re whisked away to your Control Room that features a massive computer terminal where you can select one of the five lands to explore. You’ll need to find the secret treasure in each stage to complete the game, but it’s up to you to decide what order you want to tackle them in. This is very similar to the approach Capcom has taken with its Mega Man series, and a welcome one as it gives the player a chance to try a different level if one is too difficult for them. This removes barriers that are otherwise present in other linear games where sometimes you just can’t get past a certain boss or obstacle.
As mentioned, Scrooge McDuck gets to travel to five vastly different environments and he’ll bring his nephews (Huey, Dewey, and Louie) as well as Webby along for the ride. You’ll get to explore the vast jungles of The Amazon, the creepy corridors of Transylvania, the adventurous African Mines, the peaks of The Himalayas, and even the crater-filled landscape of The Moon! While five stages may seem a bit on the short side, the way they are designed makes for some serious platforming action and secret seeking. Unlike a traditional Mario game where you simply run from left to right to speed through a level, DuckTales features sprawling environments littered with secret items and areas to discover. You won’t simply be moving in one direction, with plenty of vertical sections and areas where you can branch off and go in multiple directions. You may find yourself backtracking and looping back around in order to locate everything.
Scrooge McDuck may seem like an unlikely hero in a video game, but Capcom has managed to outfit him with some genius moves via his cane. Much like a pogo stick, Scrooge can use his cane to reach new heights by jumping on top of enemies’ heads or using other environmental obstacles to his advantage. This jumping mechanic takes some practice, but once you get it down it’s a fantastic way to traverse a stage. You’ll want to jump and bop everywhere because there are tons of invisible items that can pop out of thin air, including treasures and health. His cane can also be used like a golf club to whack nearby rocks and barrels into enemies. Movement in the game is unique and memorable and just a ton of fun.
As mentioned, Scrooge’s nephews go with him on the adventure. Once in a land they are scattered about to offer hints if you come across one of them. Other characters from the cartoon make appearances as well. If you come across Mrs. Beakly she will hand out some health items to help out. Launchpad can fly you back to your vault to deposit all of the money you’ve acquired thus far in the stage. You’ll even come across Gizmo-Duck and Bubba Duck at some point in your quest and they’ll offer assistance as well!
In traditional Capcom fashion, DuckTales looks absolutely gorgeous on the Nintendo. The sprites look just like their cartoon counterparts and the levels are highly detailed. With bright colors and a wide variety of unique enemies and bosses (some also ripped directly out of the cartoon), the visuals are quite striking. There’s some slowdown and flicker here and there, but nothing that should hamper your enjoyment.
Also true to form, the soundtrack throughout the game is absolutely fantastic. From the iconic theme song to each stage’s unique background music, there’s not a bad track in the game. I have my personal favorites, but by far the Moon theme is something to behold! It’s a captivating soundtrack that perfectly captures the essence of playing in space and really showcases the talent of the musicians at Capcom. They really are in a league of their own!
Much like Disney itself, DuckTales is a game that on the surface looks like it was created for little kids, but in the end it’s a fun game appropriate for the young as well as the young at heart. With a unique pogo bounce and spot-on controls, playing as Scrooge McDuck is more fun than you can imagine. The exotic level design and the excellent presentation make for a must-have NES game. It’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face!
- Graphics - 9.5/109.5/10
- Sound - 10/1010/10
- Gameplay - 9.5/109.5/10
- Lasting Appeal - 8/108/10
Final Thoughts: EXCELLENT
Whether you’re looking to solve a mystery or rewrite history, DuckTales is the new gold standard on how to convert a licensed property into a fun video game. Excellent graphics, impeccable music, and creative level design combined with unique gameplay mechanics and spot-on controls make for an unforgettable experience perfect for the entire family.