You have no idea how big the grin is on my face at the moment and I haven’t even pressed the start button. My TV is blaring out an enhanced chiptune version of the DuckTales theme tune and it is utterly glorious. It begins with the same 8 bit drums and bleeping synths as the original game before bursting into life with real orchestral trumpets.
It’s not just the music, absolutely everything in DuckTales has been lovingly restored and enhanced by WayForward Technologies. As you can see from the screens the game looks sumptuous, it retains the 2D gameplay but now all the backgrounds and platforms are rendered in 3D and hand painted, just like the original cartoon. The characters are still sprites but now look exactly like their animated counterparts rather than blocks of pixels.
Most of the original cast have returned and now the game is fully voiced with plenty of guest appearances. Alongside Scrooge McDuck, Huey, Dewey and Louie you will also meet Magica De Spell, Mrs Beakley, Launchpad and many more. The original game had a few lines of text as a plot and this has been expanded into a full adventure and the writing is superb – I have laughed more times than I can recall.
The gameplay is simple yet enjoyable: Scrooge bounces across the screen on his pogo stick and can whack boulders into enemies or, in true 8-bit style, jump on their heads. Scrooge must collect a number of objects per level which will help him clear the way to the boss who then must be defeated with more head-bouncing. There are also occasional mine cart sections that require perfect timing and a rather fun battle on the wings of a biplane.
The collision detection is on the player’s side and on the easiest mode lives are infinite, with restart points which are generously dotted throughout the level. I played through the game on the easiest setting and it took around three hours. Although that might seem rather short, they are three excellently formed hours. Harder modes make the game more challenging by limiting the number of lives and removing respawn points, and there is a massive gallery of art, music and trinkets to unlock by spending some of McDuck’s cash.
Sadly the enemy AI is non-existent with the Beagle Brothers, ghosts and hockey players following preset paths rather than chasing Scrooge. Timing your jump is extremely important and on the harder modes the game can be extremely frustrating with enemies appearing when you are mid-jump and knocking you to your death.
- The art style and music is fantastic.
- Genuinely amusing script.
- Simple yet challenging platforming gameplay.
- Enemy AI is completely absent.
- Very challenging on harder difficulty levels.
- Some sections require trial and error rather than skill.
WayForward have found that magical Pixar-esque sweet spot of humour that will appeal to both adults and kids. This an absolute triumph of a remake, it’s just a shame the game can be over so quickly.