‘DuckTales Remastered’ preview: Mostly woo-oo

DuckTales 1

Disney cast a facet of video game history fully in stone when it made Wreck-It Ralph. The animated flick’s principal characters demonstrate that pixel graphics, those blocky little constructs used in video games before the modern marvel of 3D rendering, are what’s most familiar about games in the pop culture consciousness. If you see a blocky UFO on a screen bleeping and blooping, you automatically think “video games.” Forget the fact that most video games haven’t used pixels in years; pixel graphics are iconic.

So what happens when you strip those iconic pixels out of an iconic pixel-based game? In the case of Disney, Capcom, and developer WayForward’s DuckTales Remastered, it’s hard to say. It sure is swell to see the 1989 classic given new life, but part of its distinctive charm has also been washed away along with the now-absent pixels.

Story/Concept

Ducktales 2

Tales of derring-do. Scrooge McDuck is rich as hell and he’s kind of a jerk about it. The wealthiest duck in Duckberg is cruising around the world hunting for treasure alongside his nephews, Huey, Dewy, and Louie, plus pals Webbigail and crash-prone pilot Launchpad McQuack. The trip takes them to the Amazon, the Himalayas, Transylvania, and even the moon.

In Transylvania, an evil sorceress is hiding the treasure, so it’s sort of okay that Scrooge is nabbing the loot. Plundering ancient ruins in the Amazon, however, is little more suspect. Those are cultural treasures, Scrooge! Chill out with the grave robbing.

Gameplay

DuckTales 3

It’s a duck blur. The miserly duck makes Lara Croft look tame by comparison, and not just in the breadth of his tomb raiding. Scrooge also kills wildlife galore in his journey. In terms of action, DuckTales Remastered doesn’t deviate a lot from the original. Scrooge can hop around on his cane like it’s a super powered pogo stick, smushing snakes and apes. He’s got a mean golf swing too, using the cane to move rocks and obstacles. He explores these diverse side-scrolling environments, same as it ever was.

Bold deduction never fails. WayForward did modernize these levels in one regard: DuckTales’ levels were always maze like, requiring you to figure out the best way to get to the boss and win the treasure. Extra treasure was hidden away, but you only needed to find it to raise up a high score. In Remastered, you have to collect a set number of artifacts in each level to get to the end, forcing you to fully explore every level.

In the new Amazon stage that made its debut at E3, for example, Scrooge has to collect eight ancient coins before he can move forward. It’s a smart way to force the player to explore while also to lengthening what was originally a very brief game. 

Just grab on to some Duck Tales. The play’s as good as it always was. On Medium difficulty, I died easily before collecting all the items in the Amazon on my first try. The spikey vines, giant bees, and bottomless pits are tricky as ever.

Presentation 

DuckTales 4

Not pony tails. It’s difficult to judge WayForward’s work here. The hand drawn, expressive character sprites are lovely. Scrooge looks just like the Scrooge of the old cartoon, and the 93-year-old Alan Young even returned to lend his voice to the role. Screenshots don’t do the game’s backgrounds justice unfortunately. What looks muted and flat in a static screen actually looks vivid and colorful on an HD television.

Or cotton tails. It doesn’t, however, look as good as the pixel graphics or the original. No game looks quite like DuckTales on the NES, but plenty of other games, including a few of WayForward’s own titles, have the same sort of look. The characters almost look like paper cut outs on the 3D backgrounds. Why not just make 2D backgrounds, as in WayForward’s new Mighty Switchforce 2, to give it some more life?

But Duck Tales. Also problematic is the dialogue. It’s cute stuff and it’s awesome that the original cartoon show cast is back, but the action gets interrupted every other minute to listen to the characters gab about the level. DuckTales was all about quick platforming action and it interrupts the flow to listen to Scrooge berate Launchpad for the fourth time in as many minutes.

Takeaway

These are niggling problems. DuckTales Remastered is, based on the two levels shown off so far, an excellent game that plays like a retro remake should. Its concessions to modernity aren’t bad, they’re just a matter of taste. That wouldn’t be an issue if Capcom included the NES original in this downloadable package, but it’s just not happening. Even without the pixels, having some DuckTales is better than having no DuckTales at all.

Gaming

The best PS3 games of all time

Choosing the right PlayStation 3 game can be a conundrum, especially when there are nearly 1,500 titles to choose from. Thankfully, we've rounded up the best games to have ever made it to the platform.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Gaming

These are the best Xbox One games available right now

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.
Deals

The best cheap-but-awesome PS4 game deals under $20

The PlayStation 4 has hit its stride in recent years and is now more affordable than ever. If you have a PS4 or are thinking of buying one, we’ve collected some must-have games. The best part? Each of these is just $20 or less.
Deals

All the Best Target Black Friday deals for 2018

The mega-retailer opens its doors to the most competitive shoppers at 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 22, and signs indicate that the retailer means business this year. We've sifted through all of the deals, from consumer electronics to small…
Virtual Reality

Think virtual reality is just for games? These awesome apps will change your mind

Virtual reality isn't all about gaming. Swim with turtles, paint in 3D, and immerse yourself in some unique experiences the platform has to offer with our curated list of the best VR apps.
Gaming

‘Gears of War’ designer Cliff Bleszinski says he’ll never make another game

Cliff Bleszinski, the game designer best known for his work on the Gears of War series, says he will never make another video game. His studio, Boss Key Productions, shut its doors earlier this year.
Gaming

‘Fortnite’ gifts perfect for the video game fan in your life

Chances are someone on your holiday shopping list is a fan of Fortnite. As the most popular game on the planet, there are plenty of Fortnite-themed gift options available for purchase in stores and online. Here are the best ones we found.
Deals

The Best Black Friday Deals from Best Buy in 2018

We've been hard at work assembling all the best Black Friday deals Best Buy offers in 2018 and putting them in one place to save you time and money this holiday season. From laptops to TVs, game consoles to smart speakers and much more…
Computing

HDR monitors are beginning to have an impact. Here are the best you can buy

HDR isn't the most common of PC monitor features and is often charged at a premium, but the list of available options is growing. These are the best HDR monitors you can buy right now.
Gaming

Every rumor about the PS5, including a new game from Luminous Productions

PlayStation 5 rumors have been circulating for over a year now but there's still plenty we don't know. Here's everything you need to know about the PS5, including rumors about its release, specs, and games.
Gaming

Nintendo and Microsoft say they’re all-in on E3 after Sony bows out of 2019 event

Shortly after Sony announced it will not participate in E3 2019 for the first time, Microsoft and Sony announced the show will go on as usual for each software giant. E3 2019 now presents a unique opportunity for Sony's major competitors.
Gaming

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in 'Destiny 2: Forsaken'

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.
Gaming

Microsoft is reportedly planning an Xbox One without a disc drive for 2019

Microsoft is reportedly planning to release a new Xbox One model without a disc drive in 2019. The console will be significantly cheaper than other Xbox One systems, including the Xbox One S.