Guest Blog by Justin @JQWits
DuckTales was easily one of my favorite NES titles growing up as a kid in the 90’s. It was a game that I played so often that I literally have multiple images of it burned into my brain like some old, beaten up arcade cabinet from that same era. And even though I owned the physical cartridge for DuckTales, it remained a game that I had never beaten until just recently; over twenty years later. Remember when games were next to impossible to beat? Well I do (mostly because I wasn’t very good at them), and although I was never able to defeat the final boss in DuckTales as a child, there was still something about this game that made it stand out from the mostly mediocre titles that plagued the NES during the console’s lifespan. But what really makes DuckTales such a great game? Why was it so much better than the majority of games available at the time? Well, for starters the soundtrack is one of the best to ever grace the Nintendo Entertainment System; a bold statement if I do say so myself.
Or maybe it was because the game had characters we all knew and loved due to the popular DuckTales television show of the time. (Who didn’t come home after a long day at school to find Scrooge McDuck diving into his money pit, swimming around like a kid in a candy store)? Or maybe it was because the game was made by Capcom, and how basically everything that Capcom released on the NES in the late 80’s - early 90’s was nothing short of spectacular (see: Little Nemo: Dream Master, Ghost ‘n Goblins, or Strider). Or maybe it was the striking resemblance DuckTales had to the Mega Man series (another insanely popular Capcom franchise at the time). Whatever it was, it's more than just nostalgia that has kept me coming back to this wonderful game, time and time again.
In fact, this game was so popular that in 2013 it was remade into what can only be described as an abomination against video gamers everywhere and should never be mentioned again, like that strange bird-man from the Harry Potter movies...but, I digress. It's often said that if you want your happy childhood memories to remain...well happy, then you shouldn't go back and try to re-live them (because it won’t go well, like some pathetic high school graduate going back to school to party with the new freshman). And sometimes this can be true, like in the case with DuckTales: Remastered. But luckily for myself and for NES enthusiasts all around the world, this couldn't be further from the reality when it comes to DuckTales for the NES. Because when it comes down to it, a great game is a great game no matter how much time has passed since it was released, and nothing, not even some sub-par remake, will ever change that.
Back to the soundtrack. I’m just now realizing how much the music in the video games from my youth directly affected my enjoyment with them. Because it seems as if every game that I have fond memories over, also features a stellar soundtrack with unforgettable songs. And when I tell you that I've listened to the Moon Theme for over an hour on more than one occasion, I am definitely not lying. Developers couldn’t do much with the graphics on the NES due to hardware limitations, so music was absolutely essential in adding to the overall tone of the game; something I feel that most early NES developers failed to truly realize, or just didn’t care much about. (I can’t even begin to count the number of companies that would just lazily recycle the same thirty second song throughout an entire game; an idea that I’m pretty sure is still used today as a form of torture in some countries.) But here, every level has a unique song that matches the atmosphere, and really helps to pull you into the environment. In fact, it’s safe to say that after you play DuckTales for a little while, you’ll be humming the tunes while you’re brushing your teeth, cooking some breakfast, or even while you’re using your cane to break open some unsuspecting treasure chests.
Another aspect of this game that I really love is how at the end of every level there’s a new boss battle. This was a very common practice among Capcom games (See: Mega Man, Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, or Little Mermaid) and personally I always found that it greatly increased my desire to reach the end of each level. (I just had to find out who the end boss was before ultimately losing in a blaze of extreme anger and total frustration.) Which is now incredibly hard for me to say as I was very surprised to find out that DuckTales is a game that can be beaten in just twenty short minutes. I know things seem bigger when you’re a kid, but this is just ridiculous. I must have been really terrible at this game when I was younger, because the levels are all very, very short, and the bosses can all be reached in under a minute. How embarrassing is that? And speaking of bosses, they’re all easy to defeat and have simplistic patterns that take only a few attempts to master.
So how does DuckTales stack up after all of these years? Well, overall I was really shocked to find out just how easy this game is to complete. (Too bad that didn’t keep me from not finishing it as a small, impressionable kid!) But aside from the difficulty, this game is still extremely fun to play, the music is just as amazing as I remember, and because of these reasons DuckTales shall remain one of my favorite NES titles to date. Here’s hoping that one of these days I’ll stumble upon a game that I was actually good at back in my day, but aside from Super Mario Bros 3, nothing really comes to mind.
Guest Blog by Justin @JQwits
Retro Game Reviews. Mega Drive, Super Nintendo, Sega Dreamcast and more
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