Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ducktales (NES)

Capcom is a video game company that is well known for its exceptional games. The Mega Man Series, Bionic Commando, The Street Figher series, Ghosts 'n Goblins, Little Nemo and more. Heck, even their lesser games such as Street Fighter 2010, the so-so shooter Legendary Wings, and the Dominos Pizza tie-in Yo! Noid are still better than at least 80 or 90 of the worst games for the Nintendo. At the same time, movie and television tie-in games have a long and storied history full of rancid garbage-like stinkers. Many gamers are well versed in the history of games like E.T. for the Atari 2600 - complete with rumors of a landfill where truckloads of carts were dropped off and buried due to horrific consumer backlash. How about the Incredible Crash Test Dummies for the NES? Or Superman 64? Cutthroat Island? The list is a mile long and includes consoles from Atari until the current-gen systems. Truth be told, it seems that the newer systems (Wii, 360, and PS3) are plagued by the onslaught of craptastic comic/movie shovelware coming out on a regular basis.

So with all of that being said, what would happen if Capcom signed on to release a handful of games based on Disney tv and movie licenses? As it turns out - a pretty large amount of awesomeness across the board. One of the most popular of this selection of games - and the one that is absolutely essential for your NES collection, is 1989's Ducktales.

Uncle Scrooge has a "Duck Cave?" Awesome!

For those who may or may not be old enough to remember, Ducktales is a game based on the popular Disney animated series that ran from 1987 until 1990. It starred Scrooge McDuck, the greedy, rich uncle of Huey, Dewey, and Louie and uncle of popular Disney icon Donald Duck. He is tasked with raising the three little ducklings when their father - Donald Duck goes into the Navy. The show was clever and the humor was funny enough that it even cracked up my folks when I was younger. Plus, it had one of the best/catchiest theme songs ever outside of maybe David The Gnome. Uncle Scrooge lives up to his name as he is filthy rich and loves to jump into big piles of his own money - often on the lookout for valuable treasures, and on occasion stomping out bad guys. It is these last two tasks that make up the bulk of the plot for the Ducktales video game.

You control Uncle Scrooge as he treks through 5 levels (Amazon, Himalayas, African Mines, Transylvania, and the Moon) on the lookout for hidden treasure and defeating baddies like Magica De Spell and his rival-in-greed, Flintheart Glomgold. You can play these 5 stages in any order you like (ala Rockin' Kats, Mega Man, and some of the other Capcom/Disney collaborations.) Along the way you'll receive help and hints from Huey, Dewey, and Louie, as well as your pilot buddy Launchpad McQuack.

Sometimes you need special items from one stage to advance in another.

One of the things that Capcom is well known for is the playability of their games. The gameplay is very similar to Capcom's big franchise Mega Man. Your main weapon in the game is your cane, which you can pogo-jump with onto enemy heads as well as smack rocks into baddies. The cane is a really effective weapon/tool in this game, as you can pull and push blocks in order to jump onto high platforms and the pogo stick jump can help you reach tight spots. The controls are tight and easy to manage. Holding down while holding B to Pogo-jump can be just a touch tedious but this was simplified by the time the sequel "Ducktales 2" rolled around requiring you only to hold the action button.

Ok. Maybe pogo jump doesn't work EVERYWHERE...

The music and sound presentation are as fantastic here as in many of the best Capcom games. The graphics are exceptional for a game made in 1989. It feels like you're playing an episode of the show - the character sprites are detailed, the colors are vibrant and the stage layouts are great. Background graphics remind me of Capcom's great Little Nemo: Dream Master. Also, comparisons to Capcom's darling Megaman don't stop with controls and stage selection - the game presentation is of a similar caliber - great graphics and catchy 80's-tastic background music. Listen to that funky tune in the Moon stage! It sounds like a Megaman outtake. The tune in the Amazon is very Bugs Bunny's Crazy Castle-esque. The show's super catchy theme song is also reproduced with startling accuracy at the beginning of the game. I DARE YOU not to sing/hum along with the theme in all of its 8-bit bleepy-bloopy glory! It's impossible.

Heck, even Roboduck looks a little Megaman-esque

The challenge level is relatively low. As with most NES games - I was a lot better at this thing 15 years ago than I am now. The stages are relatively short, the bosses usually take just a few hits to kill, and the fact that there are only 5 stages means it wont take you all weekend to beat it. The biggest problem you'll have with making it to the end of this game is the kind of problem you'll have with any good platformer - goofy mistakes. I've pulled my hair out several times screaming "I should have KNOWN that the boulder was coming - I've played this game 1,000 times!" That being said, once you get the stage patterns down - you'll blow through it without much challenge.

Ducktales is an absolutely essential NES platformer. Fans of Capcom's most popular titles such as Mega Man and Little Nemo will dig it, and fans of the cartoon will absolutely love it. It's worth it at almost any price - and Lukie Games has it right now for an amazing deal. It's one of the more popular games What are you waiting for? Get your copy today!