Saturday, 24 January 2015

GROW - DuckTales

Review by Clint 'ThoRn' Thornton
Disney Interactive Studios
Producer(s)Tokuro Fujiwara
Designer(s)Yoshinori Takenaka
Programmer(s)Nobuyuki Matsushima
Artist(s)Keiji Inafune
Naoya Tomita
Hironori Matsumara
Miki Kijima
Composer(s)Hiroshige Tonomura
Source: Wikipedia
Release date(s)Famicom/NES
  • NA September 14, 1989
  • JP January 26, 1990
  • EU December 14, 1990
Genre(s)Action platformer
DuckTales! Woo-oo!
Everyday they're out there making
DuckTales! Woo-oo!
Tales of derring do-bad and good
Luck Tales! Woo-oo!

Remember those lyrics?  Well I sure do!  It was one of the catchiest cartoon theme songs to come out of the 80's.  Come to think of it, it was one the better Disney cartoons to come out of the 80's as well.  Can we get the Trifecta with one of the best NES Disney games to come out of the 80's?  Well.....  That depends who you ask but most will agree that this is one game that left an impression on most kids.  Let's go find out why and play some DuckTales old school Nintendo style!

This is one of the simplest stories for a video game yet somehow creates a game that is far from simple.  Scrooge McDuck has decided to travel around the world collecting treasure to become the worlds richest duck whilst rivaling against Flintheart Glomgold....  Yep!  That's it.  It's basically the whole premise of the DuckTales cartoon all wrapped up in to one neat little package....  A little package that will kick your butt every time!!!

Remember Mega Man?  Remember that guy and the games he was in and how as a child you were  first introduced to a world of frustration by playing those games?  Well guess what, this game isn't much different.  Yet somehow still retains fond memories for most of us who played.  DuckTales is essentially a Mega Man game with a different skin.  It's built off the same engine, consists of the same platform style and has a million and one reoccurring enemies.  But even after taking all that in to account, this game still feels like it's own unique game if you don't try to compare it to that little blue guy with the helmet and is a very enjoyable experience.

Scrooge's travels take him to five different locations to not only find diamonds on his journey, but to also search for the five different treasures scattered throughout the five locations which are The Amazon, Transylvania, African Mines, The Himalayas and the Moon.  During the stages Scrooge will encounter enemies and platforms that are only there for one thing, to see you die.  So when these two combine and when you're trying to platform and there is a bee flying your way....  Good luck with that!

Scrooge has two attack styles both useful but both requiring the right time to use them for success.  The simplest of the two is the 'golf swing' with his cane.  This can be used to launch rocks at enemies as well as open chests and throw different objects.  The second is the Pogo stick attack, again with his cane.  This is a very effective attack and enables you to continuously take out enemies as long as you keep the Pogo momentum going.  The only problem is learning the button combination that enables the attack so it works all the time, every time.  But we'll look at that later.

You can play each level in any order and can also revist them to find new areas that have been unlocked from the other levels.  This can sometimes feel a little repetitive but at the same time doesn't feel like a cheap way the programmers added longevity to the game as you are visiting new areas so it tends to balance itself out in the end.  Each level ends in a boss battle that you must defeat in order to retrieve the treasure for that location.  After you have completed all five levels you return to Transylvania one last time for the Final Fight (Like my Capcom  After you have finished the game you will get to experience one of the three endings.  Each ending is dependent on how much money you make throughout the game as well as finding hidden treasures.

The music is definitely a strong point for this game with each levels' melody being very catchy without it sounding like it's on a continuous loop.  Although it is catchy music it doesn't really suit the stage environment it plays in except for 'The Moon' level and possibly 'Transylvania' depending on what music you think Ghouls and Ghosts would listen to (Wow....  Another Capcom  This can be easily looked past but take notice when you play it next.  My only real gripe is with a few of the sound effects, most notably the sound when you Pogo attack an enemy.  After the 50th time it starts to sound like nails on a chalk board and this I can't look past.  The graphics are all nice and colorful with each level having its own unique feel.  The animations are smooth and each character has been well drawn and all have been given their own personalities.

This is one of the few NES games that really would have benefited greatly from a third button.  The controls are tight and responsive with zero button lag and Scrooge stops moving on a dime as soon as you take your fingers off.  But unfortunately even with 99.9% of the controls being spot on, learning the skill to use your cane as a Pogo stick can be very, very, VERY frustrating.  Some people don't have any issues, but many do and I did.  Its combination of both buttons and down on the directional pad and although there are a couple of combinations to make it work it's still a pain as it just doesn't feel natural.

When people talk of this game being a must have for your NES collection I certainly wouldn't argue.  Yes, it's a very difficult game and will require many attempts to learn the patterns, but it's still a fun experience learning everything.  If you are a Mega Man fan (and who isn't) then this is the game for you.  You are met with challenge but also met with reward if you succeed so it is a very satisfying experience once you get the hang of the game.  It has replay value as you can always go back and challenge yourself to get more money if you haven't been awarded with the best ending and even if you have seen the best ending, you will no doubt be called back subconsciously to pop this cart in to your NES as time goes on like you do with Mega Man (II), Super Mario Bros 3 and Contra.

There might be a remastered version of this game out there, but in my opinion it really doesn't compete with the original.

Until next time...  Stay Retro!

1 comment:

  1. Excellent review mate! I never played this back in the day, as I was a computer gamer who swore to his C64 and later on Amiga 500 :-) I picked it up for my NES two or three years ago, and I instantly fell in love with this title. I really dig the music - especially the moon level - and for me the difficulty was spot on; not too hard and not too easy. I obsessed on it for a week or so until I could beat it in a single sitting :-)

    About the connection to Mega Man: Keiji Inafune, who came up with Mega Man, worked on Ducktales as well -

    My kids have played and enjoyed the remake, but I must admit I haven't tried it myself. For me the NES version is close to perfection, so I'm afraid of playing any other version.

    Check out Smooth McGroove's version of the moon theme: