branchise's DuckTales: Remastered (Xbox 360) review

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Ducktales: Remastered Review

I was born in 1994. Some of my earliest, fondest memories involve me playing (mostly watching my big brother play) Super Nintendo or occasionally, pull out an NES and play that. We had lots and lots of games, – probably more than we should havewhen you consider that my family was kinda poor – and I have lots of nostalgia toward them. One game I have no memory of ever having any real exposure to is the original Ducktales (woo-oo). I have a vague recollection of the cartoon and somehow know the lyrics to the theme song, but other than remembering that I liked their cameos in Kingdom Hearts, I was pretty indifferent to that world. But when Ducktales: Remastered (woo-oo) was announced, I was immediately infatuated by the ingenious trailer and my love for sidescrollers, especially sidescrolling platformers. So, I decided that nostalgia or no nostalgia, I was buying this game. The excitement I read from game sites saying how much they loved the original only added to the anticipation. Well, I finally got my hands on it, and after spending about six hours with Scrooge McDuck, I feel like I experienced something that is an overall much more polished and fully realized, incredibly charming version of something that was a better actual game fifteen years ago.

First off, aside from some flat scenery in the background, the game looks exactly like a 2014 game based on Ducktales (woo-oo) should look: a higher resolution version of the cartoon. If the HUD were not there and I was not holding the controller, I would think that I was looking at a relaunched version of the cartoon. Colors pop off the screen, characters look alive and cute and fluffy, and the world has a sense of depth. Each of the seven stages – Scrooge’s bank, the vine filled Amazon, a ghost infested castle in Transylvania, the snowy Himalayas, an African mine shaft, the moon with a detour onto an alien spaceship, and a final lava pit which apparently houses the lair of Magica De Spell and Flintheart Glomgold – sport multi layered, unique, but equally pretty set pieces to traverse.

In the hub world of Scrooge’s office, you are allowed to dive into his money pit, and there is something that is just so innately pleasing in seeing it happen. From his office, using in game currency collected during your playthrough, you are able to purchase character art, concept art, and music to be enjoyed from the gallery.

I talked about how pretty the game looked and how the characters felt alive. Well, nailing the look of the characters is only half of what WayForward did to bring them to life. They also brought in the cast of the show to reprise their roles to voice cutscenes that contain lots – in fact, too much, but more on that later – of dialogue that is really well done, very charming, and at times, genuinely funny. This makes it feel even more like an episode of the cartoon.

The music is also very well done; WayForward uses re-recorded versions of the suites from the original game. All of them fit the mood of each environment, and are the kind of fast paced mood music that just works with this kind of game. The moon and Himalaya themes are especially good. Of course, also included in the game is the entire Ducktales (woo-oo) theme! It playing throughout the end credits is reason enough to the finish the game.

But is the game worth beating if it were not for the awesome credits? Unfortunately, I would probably say no. I have not been starving for a game like this as much as I was in previous years, but having a new one is never a bad thing to me. It’s just nice having a cute, colorful game with no over the top violence. But unfortunately, the gameplay appears to not have received the same amount of polish and care that the graphics and sound have.

This game is hard, and kinda unforgiving. I consider myself to be pretty good at platformers, but I found getting through just the prologue part of the game nearly impossible on hard, and decided that it would be the best for me to play through it on the medium setting. But even then, spots were extremely hard and forced me to play it on easy, where you have unlimited lives and take only half the damage you do on medium. And I still died… A lot, albeit with no real consequence aside from having to wait two seconds to respawn and the shame I felt. So, either I really suck at games, or this is game is no joke.

What adds to the game’s difficulty is the lack of consistency and precision in the jumping, which in a game that is essentially all about jumping, is kinda a big deal. When not using Scrooge’s umbrella as a pogo stick, going from platform to platform just never felt as solid as it ideally should, and you never know exactly where you will land on any given jump, which again, is kinda a big deal. Those shortcomings are disappointing, frustrating, and impossible to ignore.

Aside from the overall difficulty and shaky platforming, the biggest problem with this game is its pacing. Earlier, I mentioned how there was maybe too much dialogues and cutscenes in the game. Well, I was not joking. These cutscenes really hold the game back from ever getting going. This is most apparent in the Amazon level, where it felt like I could not go forty-five seconds without the game stopping to have some kind of talking. This problem is compounded by the fact that these cut scenes are only skippable by pausing the game and clicking on the “Skip cutscene” option. This seems like a very minor issue, but it gets old real fast, especially in a game where you are constantly dying and are forced to re-watch each one of them after you respawn. The problem would have been alleviated if the game simply recognized when/if you have already seen a cutscene, but it does not.

And the thing is, I really hate that I dreaded getting to a cutscene because like I mentioned, the dialogue is one of the best parts of the game, but I guess even the best things can get tired when you are forced to watch and listen to it over and over again.

I really wanted to love Ducktales: Remastered (woo-oo). I fell in love with the aesthetics, charm, and faithfulness to the show, but sadly, those are the best parts of the game by far and not enough to carry it to being worth investing too much time in. Probably because I am not nostalgic toward the show or the original game, I am less likely to let some of the shortcomings of the game. There is definitely fun to be had, but unless you are just the hardest of hardcore Ducktales (woo-oo) fan, this will probably be more frustrating than anything else.

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