Console: NES Company: Capcom Release Date: September 1989 Genre: Action Number of Players: 1 Save Feature? No
Ducktales is a real sentimental favorite of mine. The catchy music brings back a whole flood of memories, the play control is intuitive and fun, and the game captured the mystique of the Ducktales cartoons brilliantly! Ducktales doesn't try to razzle and dazzle; it's simply good clean fun.
Overview: Back in the late 1980s and early 90s, I remember coming home from school and watching the newest Disney cartoons like Ducktales and Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers. For some reason, Ducktales was always the overwhelming favorite in my mind. There was just something about exploring an ancient temple or mysterious forest that I found enticing. I always enjoyed the great characters and even some of the villains (the Beagle Boys...need I say more?) I don't know; there was just a mystique about the cartoon that Disney has never been able to replicate.
Needless to say, when I happened across a copy of the NES game Ducktales at our local Marsh way back in 1990 (remember the days when everyone would rent NES games?), I decided to give it a whirl. The game didn't disappoint either. In an era when action games were the rave, Ducktales stood out for a few reasons. First of all, I felt that the gameplay itself was rather intuitive for its time. Instead of simply mashing on the B button and blasting enemies to a molten crisp, you had to attack them from above with Scrooge's pogo jump attack. You could also lean against an object and press the B button to swing Scrooge's cane...knocking obstacles into enemies in the process. Like in all the great action games, timing is everything!
Another reason why I found Ducktales so enjoyable was simply searching for treasure! For an NES game, I felt that Ducktales was more non-linear than your typical action pak which resulted in more replay value than the norm. Hidden diamonds, illusion walls, and secret rooms are commonplace in the world of Ducktales. In addition to the main objective of snagging the five greatest treasures in the world, there are two hidden treasures worth a cool million each! If you enjoy searching for treasure, you'll dig Ducktales!
Graphics: I felt that the graphics captured the spirit of the Ducktales cartoon perfectly! The characters look exactly as they should and the atmosphere just feels right. There's just enough comedy to keep this game from becoming too serious as well. I got a kick out of some of the enemy animation like the billy goats jumping incessantly and the skeleton ducks crashing into everything in site. I was outright laughing when I figured out how to unwrap the mummies in Transylvania as well.
Like a typical Capcom release, the graphics are very colorful and give the game its unique personality. Even though the smash hit Mega Man 2 was released just a month or two before this Disney classic, Ducktales has a different feel to it (i.e. it's not simply a Mega Man clone).
Music: In yet another inspired effort by Capcom, Ducktales features an incredibly catchy soundtrack! From the eerie tune of Transylvania to the heroic melody that plays on the Moon, everything is just very enjoyable and memorable. While the music is catchy as all get-out, it also helps to create the wonderful atmosphere that permeates this game. It's one of those rare games where every tune seems to fit perfectly; each melody creates just the right feel. And more importantly, every tune is catchy which means that you'll find yourself humming the music well after playing the game. None of the music in Ducktales qualifies as being bad or even average; from the amazingly catchy African Mines track to the playful Himalayas tune, Capcom nailed it once again.
Even the sound effects are surprisingly good! You've gotta love the sound of defeating an enemy and some of the little sounds like skeleton ducks ramming a boulder or bees buzzing. It's the little things that give this game its unique personality.
Play Control: Although the controls are slightly different than your typical action game, they are still very easy to learn. Jumping, using the pogo attack, and swinging Scrooge's cane can all be learned within minutes. Easy to learn yet difficult to master pretty much sums it up.
Challenge: Considering that the targeted age group was probably 8 to 10 years old (which I was at the time...lol), the challenge level is probably about right. Granted, this game is far easier than some of Capcom's other offerings such as Strider and Mega Man 2 but at least it had a difficulty feature that you could play with. I always play the game on Hard Mode so the difficulty feels about average. Still, there are areas such as the Himalayas and the Moon and enemies like Lunarat (that boss always gives me trouble for some reason) that you've gotta watch out for. And finding enough treasure to get the game's best ending is a challenge in itself!
Storyline: The background story for Ducktales is quite simple really. Scrooge McDuck and his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie have decided to embark on an epic quest to find the 5 greatest treasures in the world! However, Scrooge isn't the only one after these relics; the Beagle Boys and Flintheart Glomgold are after the treasures as well! This treasure hunt will take Scrooge & Co. deep into the Amazon jungle, a haunted mansion in Transylvania, the diamond-rich African Mines, the snow-capped Himalayas, and even inside a UFO on the Moon itself!
While it was nothing groundbreaking, the story certainly is true to cartoon form. After all, what can be more fun than going on a treasure hunt with friends?
Funfactor: In my opinion, Ducktales is one of most enjoyable games ever released for the NES. The gameplay is simply wonderful, the non-linear layout gives the game its high replay value, and the atmosphere/feel captures the essence of the cartoon in grand fashion! Some of the controls are intuitive enough to separate Ducktales from all the has-beens and simply searching for treasure is more fun than diving in Uncle Scrooge's vault! Well, perhaps not, but in this gamer's opinion, Ducktales was released back when Capcom was in its "NES prime" and it shows.
Negatives: Even with all of its secrets and non-linear gameplay, I still felt that Ducktales was way too short. Eight levels would have been the perfect amount for this type of game; five just wasn't enough. Every time I beat this game, I get the feeling that there's got to be more.
While the play control was excellent, I do wish that you wouldn't have to press down on the control pad every time you want to execute the pogo jump. Simply pressing B would have been easier (This was fixed in Ducktales 2.) And while the game certainly has its share of challenging moments, it does tend to be on the easy side.
Ratings: Graphics: 4.5 Music: 4.5 Play Control: 4.5 Challenge: 4.0 Storyline: 4.0 Funfactor: 4.7 Overall Score: 26.2 out of 30.0 Overall Rating: Silver Stud!
Back to NES NostalgiaLast Updated: May 27, 2006