The Average Gamer

DuckTales: Remastered Review (Wii U)

DuckTales Amazon Gorilla
If you’ve ever wanted to show your kids how tough games used to be, Duck Tales Remastered is the one to get. Its updated graphics now look very much like the cartoon, while the music has been overhauled but retains that chiptune feel.

As Scrooge McDuck, you’ll search around the world for forgotten treasures, using your cane as a pogo stick for high jumps to clobber Amazonian apes, undead ducks and those classic cartoon nemeses, The Beagle Boys. Nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie occasionally pop up to be rescued but really, you’re only in it for the money – finding chests and destroying bosses for gem drops. Back at the mansion your poor money pit starts with only a hundred thousand coins – hardly satisfying at all to dive into.

The original was a 2D platformer released in 1989. The remastered version plays very much the same – restricted to a single plane, your challenges are either about timing jumps or finding hidden areas or both. Sounds simple, but this is one of those games where the levels have been stacked against you. Spikes line the ceilings of otherwise-innocuous jumps and blocks sit in just the place to knock the unwary McDuck into a pit.

In the Amazon level, you’re beset with gorillas, snakes and carnivorous plants. Each is easily dealt with by jumping or smacking rocks into them. However, die and you’ll be respawned at the last checkpoint without the rocks you need to clear your path. Or get the timing slightly wrong and you’ll still take out the gorilla but it’s much harder to reach that high-up chest. The precise timing is made a little bit more difficult by a slight delay on actions – McDuck must ready himself up to bat a rock across the room.

Transylvania’s design is much more about exploration than careful jumps. You can run around quite safely (for the most part) but you’ll be looking for hidden rooms, mirrors to teleport you into new areas, and chests that only appear after you’ve already jumped through their position.

DuckTales Remastered TransylvaniaEach of the locations has its own quirks, so if you’re having trouble with one, you can always hop into another from the mansion’s menu.

Where the game get annoying is its purity towards the principles of the 80s. Die three times in a location and you’re sent back to the mansion. You’ll have to sit through the menu animation and skip no fewer than three cutscenes (with associated loading times) before you’re back in the action. That said, many the original voice actors have recorded their cutscene roles. It all sounds good, but the banal scripting itself is tedious even on the first time you sit through it.

You can change the difficulty setting of your pogo jumps between easy and hard at any point. Easy lets you hold down the jump button, while Hard needs you to press for every jump – tricky when you’re crossing rivers by bounding off attackers’ heads.

DuckTales Remastered Huey Dewey Louie Scrooge MansionThe Wii U version has no added bells and whistles at all. The entire game is mirrored on the GamePad, so you can flip to off-TV play at any time by, well, looking down at the GamePad. Always disappointing, but not at all surprising.

I’d recommend this game for children and anyone else who has the free time and patience to replay sections over and over, learning optimal routes and timing. Casual players, however, will just find the whole thing frustrating.

DuckTales: Remastered is out this week on PC, PSN and Wii U eShop. The XBLA version will be coming on 13th September.

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