Friday, December 2, 2011

Duck Tales (NES)




Rating: 4 out of 5
Pros: A fun little game with smooth controls, colorful graphics and recognizable characters
Cons: A tad short, characters from the show could have played larger parts in the game

Duck Tales was a cartoon series produced by Walt Disney Television Animation that aired between 1987 and 1990. In 1989 Capcom developed and published this video game version of Duck Tales for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Duck Tales is a side-scrolling platform game that is similar to Mega Man in a number of ways, being created by the same company.
 
Many of the characters from the cartoon make appearances in the game, including Huey, Dewey and Louie, Mrs. Beakley and Webby, Launchpad and Gizmo Duck. Usually they are just brief appearances to offer a hint, drop some food or blow up a wall blocking your path. Some of the cartoon's main antagonists also appear, including The Beagle Boys, Flintheart Glomgold and Magica De Spell.
 
Like Mega Man, players will move about the screens from left to right eliminating enemies, climbing up and down vines and ropes, jumping over pits and collecting items. Unlike Mega Man, Scrooge doesn't equip various weapons to complete his task. This duck's old, but he's not helpless - he jumps around on his cane like a pogo stick and eliminates enemies by bouncing on their heads Mario style.
 
There are five different areas of the game, these include the African Mines, Amazon, Himalayas, Moon and Transylvania. Each one can be selected from the main screen and completed in any order for the most part. There are exceptions, like if you enter the mine one of Scrooge's nephews tells you that you need the key to enter the mine, and the key is in Transylvania - and then you are teleported to Translyvania. The goal is to recover a piece of treasure from each area, and every area is distinct and plays a little differently from the others. One is full of mirrors that you touch to warp you around the level, another has vines to climb, and another has snow that keeps you from bouncing along the ground on your cane.
 
Duck Tales is a fairly easy game, and also fairly short once you figure out where to go in each level. There are three difficulty settings; easy, normal and difficult, which does help to add some challenge to the game. Still, you can breeze through it on hard in 10 or 15 minutes after you know where to go and what to do. Scrooge has 3 little orbs of health, and he looses one each time he takes damage. These can be replenished by collecting little ice cream cones from killing enemies or from treasure chests. You also collect various sizes of diamonds to add to your score. If you collect enough money and find the 2 additional hidden treasures, the game rewards you with a slightly alternate ending.
 
The graphics are vivid and colorful, characters easily recognizable and everything is smooth and polished for a game of this age. It's really very similar to the first Mega Man game, and that's a compliment folks. There are a variety of different enemies from little grey robots and white reindeer to gorillas and bees. The bees fly, deer jump fairly high and bounce around the ground - most every enemy is unique.
 
The music is also mostly above average and fitting. Each level has a different piece of background music that really adds to the ambiance - in Transylvania the music is dark and mysterious, on the moon it's upbeat and futuristic. The theme song from the cartoon also plays during the title screen in 8-bit synthesized glory, and it sounds terrific.
 
Overall, I'd say Duck Tales is one of my favorite Nintendo games. To this day, every time I plug it in and start playing it reminds me of sitting at my grandma's house playing it for hours with my cousin. It's also one of the few games based on a television show that's actually worth playing, and a must-have for anyone who still has a working Nintendo.

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