15 August 2013

DuckTales: Remastered

I should be in bed, but I'm still kinda wired. So I might as well write this while it's still fresh in my mind...

DuckTales: Remastered was released today for PS3 (and other platforms). I bought it, downloaded it, and just played through it (on the easiest setting). And it was fun.

Let's not kid ourselves; this game is all about the nostalgia. The original DuckTales game for the NES is a classic. I played it a bunch as a kid. It was one of the few NES games I could actually 'beat' back then (though I mostly played on the 'easy' setting—and of course the game actually having a difficulty setting was pretty progressive for its time). So I've been waiting for this game pretty impatiently ever since it was announced last spring.

Remastered brings the game to the 21st century. We're talking hand drawn, high definition sprites, re-arranged music, voice acting by the cast of the original animated show—the whole shebang. The game looks and sounds great. And the gameplay is, of course, the same as it was, all those years ago. Except, of course, now you have modern comforts, like saving progress between levels, a map screen etc.

The level designs are, for the most part, true to the original, though I think there are some small differences (I cannot remember the original game that well—it's been, like, a couple decades since I've really played it, after all). The levels have new added objectives, mostly involving retrieving some items spread through the level, which means you'll need to visit more areas of a level in order to beat it. There is also a whole new final level leading to the final boss (instead of returning to Transylvania), and a new tutorial level. Oh, and speaking of boss fights, they've been expanded and made tougher. Money you collect actually has a use now; it's used to unlock bonus content (concept art etc.).

I mentioned voice acting, and indeed, dialogue plays a much larger part than in the original. They've attempted to add an actual story to the game. It's pretty simple treasure hunting stuff, of course, but it works well enough in the context. Some reviewers have even criticised the game for having too much dialogue, disrupting the flow of the game. I didn't find it a problem first time around, but when re-playing it some of it may, of course, seem unnecessary...

Some downsides as well, of course. During this single session the game crashed twice. And I actually had to replay most of the final level (including the boss) since progress is saved only between levels. Some points in the game were also pretty darn tough, even on the easy setting. I had most trouble with segments involving hanging from ropes. I discovered that for some reason these were easier using the left stick for control rather than the directional pad, even though mostly I favoured the pad for this game. Thankfully you have infinite retries, and checkpoints are fairly frequent.

The price, at 15€, might seem a mite high for a game you can play through in one sitting. But it's obvious that a fair amount of effort has gone into making DuckTales: Remastered, what with the animated sprites and voice acting and all. For those with golden memories of the original NES game it is, of course, a blast from the past. It's hardly perfect, and of course it's pretty simple and short by modern standards, but it's still a whole lotta fun, at least in my humble opinion. For those not familiar with the original... well, it's still a decent, fun, oldschool platformer, although it probably won't make quite the same impression as it will on fans.

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