If I was asked what my opinion is the best game for the nes is, a lot of my friends, and quite frankly a lot of my readers too, would think that my answer would be Mega Man 2. I love the Mega Man series, there’s no debate on that one. Hell, even the look of my site was inspired by the blue bomber. But in all honesty, it’s not the most fun I have with a Nintendo game. And you know what, it’s not even involving a plumber, or an elf, or some space bounty hunter. If we are talking about “fun”, then the honour goes to Ducktales, hands down. So what better way to start off my little retrospect series, then to talk about the game that I still play whenever I desperately need an 8-bit fix.
Based on a late 80’s early nineties cartoon series from Disney, who were dominating the Saturday morning lineups in North America, and created by Capcom, one of the biggest companies in the gaming world, it’s no doubt that it’s a perfect match that even eHarmony would be impressed with. The first game this conglomerate made was this game, and it set the bar so high, that not many of the other follow-ups could hold on. The game was so successful, it sold more units for Capcom than any game on the nes and the Game Boy, selling about 1.67 million copies worldwide. Ducktales sold more copies than any mega man game for the nes. How about that for popularity? But the question remains, does it deserve all this praise and gushing from fans and nes enthusiasts, myself included.
The story behind it is fairly simple, as is most nes games, as a lot of the games didn’t have cut scenes or full stories. But the premise seems pretty straight forward. Five treasures are located in five separate locations, them being the Amazon, Transylvania, African Mines, The Himalayas, and even The Moon. And it’s up to someone to go get those trinkets before someone else does.
And who will be getting these items for their own personal wealth? Scrooge McDuck, that’s who. The most awesome anthropomorphic duck in the world. He was raiding tombs well before Lara Croft. He was entering uncharted territory well before Nathan Drake. He’s the richest Duck in the world, and he didn’t do it with media companies or airplanes or just sitting on his lucky dime. He got out there, and got all the gold he can get, so he can swim in a vault full of gold coins. His wealth is even mentioned in Forbes as he hits the top 15 richest fictional characters for many years running, that’s how much of a rich duck he is.
What also makes this duck a badass is his weapon. His cane. That’s right, his walking stick is actually a weapon of intense awesomeness. Think about it. The cane only has two attacks in this game, the golf swings, which he can do to rocks and boulders, and the pogo stick jump and attack. Now think about it, we have seen jumping on heads enough times in side scrollers, but he is stomping on enemies with a walking cane. He is literally jumping from a distance, placing his cane around the stomach area, and landing in a way so that the tip of the cane is landing on the ground, or an enemy, and has enough force to launch Scrooge higher into the air, and not shattering his rib cage. Screw all those canes you see in Mafia movies where there’s a blade or a dagger, when I get old and crotchety, I want that cane right there. I want to jump out of that retiring home from the second story, and bounce to freedom on my cane of mass destruction.
The controls in the game are spot on. It’s one of the biggest compliments many people have. Mr. McD can go anywhere you tell him to, and there is no dispute from the controller, or anything. The only observation, is that sometimes, it feels that the pogo jumping likes to stop on its own, depending on where Scrooge lands. And it’s usually around the time you are bouncing off spikes, where you don’t want the bouncing to stop. It’s frustrating sometimes, but we are entering the nitpicking area.
Another issue that has to be mentioned is the limitations of attacks. Scrooge only gets two, the pogo and the golf swing. It really gets annoying when you have to play dodge with the spider and wait for the big arachnid to flinch, so you can sneak by. Sometimes there is a rock for you to swing, but if you miss, you’re out of luck.
The last complaint that people have is the fact that the bosses are really easy. Some of the bosses, you can defeat without taking a single point of damage. The pattern is similar to most. Wait for him to stop blinking and hit him again. Five hits, and you’re done. It really makes it anti-climactic to have easy bosses after wild levels. Sometimes, to counteract the simplicity, the bosses can get cheap shots onto you, which makes it annoying. The biggest violator of this is the rat on the Moon. When you walk into the boss area, the rat has four different directions to move around, which means that he can get a cheap shot onto you before you can get to the safe haven.
When you consider the last few points about the flaws, and you realize that these are the biggest complaints, you start to realize that if that’s all the problems the game has, when the game has so few issues to tackle, and the fact that they are minor annoyances and observations than flaws and bugs, you start to overlook the negatives, and just have a lot of fun.
The graphics are just as good now, as they were by today’s modern standards. Everything looks great, the levels are imaginative, the animation is seamless, and the sprites are well made. And the other thing is that all the familiar characters from the series are there, including Launchpad McQuack, all the nephews, and even Gizmoduck makes an appearance. Familiarity helps when you are playing a game based on a television series.
The best thing about the game is the music. All the levels have memorable music. Even when you turn on the cartridge, you get the opening theme from the show in 8-bit format, and it’s so recognizable immediately. Arguably, the best track, the one that a lot of chiptune fans will say is the best, is the Moon theme. It stands on its own as one of the best songs of all times, and it joins such a solid soundtrack. You can literally take the music from all 5 stages and listen to them anywhere like a soundtrack on your mp3 player. Why not? I have it on my playlist. Honest.
One of the other parts of the game, that makes it memorable for me, is that it’s the first time in my gaming life, that there were multiple endings to one game. The second ending isn’t much now, by comparison to the many games today that have 2 or more endings, even up to 15-20, but when I was young, that was a big deal. The ending is not spectacular by any stretch. The only difference, is either Scrooge has a treasure chest full of lots of gold, or he has a treasure chest full of a crap ton of gold, and has a crown, to mock his defeated adversaries. And the good ending is easy. Just get $10,000,000 at the end and get the two hidden treasures in the game. (Psst, they’re on the Moon and in the African Mines). There is a bonus round to get more jewelry. To get it, collect enough so that the fifth digit in your stage total is a 7, and get a lift from Launchpad. That’s it, go nuts.
Here’s my gameplay suggestions for you. Start in Transylvania. You can start wherever you want because it has the same level select feature like in Mega Man series, but I suggest this first. There are a lot of hidden treasure and a great warm up to the rest of the levels. What you have to find though is the hidden wall that has the extra health pip. You’ll need it. Afterwards, hit the Himalayas, where the second health pip is hidden. Afterwards, head to wherever you want.
While looking up, it’s upsetting to find out that the game is not on Wii Virtual Console. This stems to Disney getting Square to make those Kingdom Hearts games. To me, that’s a shame, because I would rather play Ducktales 20 times for an hour each than play Kingdom Hearts again for another 20 hours. Capcom has the resources to bring back the ultimate game for the Wii console, to share amongst the newer masses, and legally, I don’t think they can. Do you want to know how ignored the game is to Capcom now? Remember the link to see the highest selling games? Well, that’s an archive from Wikipedia. If you go to the live link, it’s not even listed.
If you have an nes collection, or looking to start one, this game is mandatory. No joke, no melodrama, no hyperbole. If you have never played this game, I strongly suggest you do so. I must recommend this game. It’s not a long game, but it’s too much fun to pass by. And in the end, that’s what games are supposed to be? Fun? And blathering blatherskite, this game is fun. This is one of the games I feel obligated to recommend to any gamer out there. Because when life is like a hurricane, you … Uh … Well, you know the rest.