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DuckTales Remastered preview: classic gems

by Steve Watts, Mar 26, 2013 11:15am PDT

When Capcom debuted DuckTales Remastered at its PAX East panel, the reaction was palpable. The classic NES game is still held in high regard, and an HD version with the pedigree of developer WayForward behind it seems like a perfect match on paper. But the proof is in the gameplay, and after some time with it at PAX East, I'm convinced that it's on the right track to honor the game's legacy.

The demo consisted of a short run through the haunted mansion, a familiar locale from the original title. But not everything is exactly where it was, since WayForward has been given creative freedom to change up the level layouts and shortcuts. For example, the minecart segments, which were originally very brief, have been extended. Despite those changes, the game carried the feeling of the original perfectly. The weight of the platforming, jumping, and bouncing on Scrooge's pogo stick were all exactly as I remembered them.

Producer Rey Jimenez told Shacknews that stages have generally seen some form of revisions. Secret areas are mostly kept intact, but some of the exploits have been made less broad. The African Mines area, for instance, won't allow you to skip straight to the boss. Similarly, some stages offer the story more context. Instead of simply finding a remote control to summon GizmoDuck on the Moon, you'll have to rescue Fenton and find the parts to activate his superhero alter-ego. "The goal placement is the same but the content is different in some places," Jimenez said.

That expanded story was present in the Mansion stage as well, where a brief sequence had Scrooge McDuck and the ducklings (Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Webby) talking about the spooky manor. The sequence was fully voice acted, including a slightly older but still impressive performance from original cast member Alan Young as Scrooge. The added story beats make more sense out of finding the kids throughout the mansion, and listening to those voices again was like hearing from old friends.

The game will include a few extra areas as well, including a tutorial stage that serves to set up the story. The computer is back to serve as a mission select, but is also the hub for visiting the Gallery to use in-game currency to purchase bonuses like original concept art and music. (In the original game, the money gathered was little more than a score counter). As you collect funds, Scrooge's money vault will fill up, allowing him to take a dip inside.

Finally, the climactic race against Flintheart Glomgold has been given a revision. Jimenez said that instead of simply climbing a rope, this game features a more difficult vertical platforming section, which can even border on the frustrating. He also teased that the ending will pack a surprising "twist," but refused to say more.

DuckTales Remastered has been in talks for three years, and it shows. "We came to terms [with Disney], and WayForward came into the picture because Disney suggested them," said Jimenez. "They fit perfectly, they had the passion for this kind of gameplay, and it turns out they have a lot of passion for DuckTales and Disney in general."

Their passion has turned out what appears to be a lovingly crafted recreation of the original. The refinements that I saw were significant, but didn't radically alter the feeling of play. Between gorgeous HD art, a new chiptunes soundtrack from WayForward's Jake Kaufman, and the still-solid mechanical underpinnings of the original, DuckTales Remastered holds a lot of promise. If only Capcom would give all of its classics such loving treatment.





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