Anyone that grew up in the late 20th century was excited to hear news coming out of Disney that one of its most revered animated shows would be returning for a whole new audience. Many that were raised in the 80s and 90s fondly remember the old Disney Afternoon and the early days when it was headlined by Scrooge McDuck and his nephews in DuckTales. That made yesterday's shocking news story more exciting than anything else, because given the high quality of some of Disney XD's animated shows, like Gravity Falls and Star Wars: Rebels, there's no reason that older viewers shouldn't be able to enjoy this new show alongside their children.
Before going any further, let's just get this out of the way right now.
Yes, it's the show with the unforgettable theme song. But DuckTales was far more than the world's catchiest opening song. In a decade filled with low-budget animation and nonsense that has since been lampooned by modern parodies, DuckTales was regarded as higher quality for the time period. It was a show filled with thrilling treasure hunts, suspenseful narratives, and some unforgettable characters. With its immense popularity, DuckTales naturally found its way into other aspects of pop culture and, yes, this includes video games.
In order to celebrate yesterday's monumental announcement, Shacknews is looking back at some of Scrooge's tales in gaming, from the obvious (Hello, Capcom!) to some of the more obscure.
Anyone that remembers the NES era likely remembers this all-time classic. While Capcom was setting its foothold in the gaming world with the Mega Man and Ghosts & Goblins series, the developer also dabbled in certain adaptations. One of the most recognizable was DuckTales.
DuckTales grasped the idea of the show perfectly, playing on Scrooge's desire for the world's rarest valuables. Players would travel to the world's most exotic locations (and even to the moon itself) in search of five great treasures before Flintheart Glomgold could beat him to it. Many of the settings were based on locations seen in the show, while many of the game's characters would make cameos as helpful NPCs.
Capcom recognized the formula to success for a game like this and that was to emulate the Mega Man formula. Scrooge would face similar hazards and some equally quirky enemies, deviously placed in such a way that would require some precision jumps. Levels could be tackled in any order, each with their own distinct theme, before Scrooge would head to Transylvania for one final climactic battle.
DuckTales would find a home on the Game Boy a year, but the NES version would be the one that stood out in players' minds, thanks to its faithful treatment of the license, its clever level design, and its unforgettable soundtrack.
DuckTales: The Quest for Gold (1990)
For as many people that remember Capcom's NES classic, just as many people have easily forgotten Scrooge's sole floppy disk adventure, released in 1990 on the PC, Amiga, and Commodore 64. Subtitled 'The Quest for Gold,' this particular DuckTales game from Incredible Technologies features a familiar premise. Flintheart Glomgold gets in Scrooge's face and insists on determining who the richest duck in the world is. Scrooge accepts this challenge. The race is on for the world's treasures. At this point, the premise sounds strikingly similar to its NES counterpart, aside from the fact that the race would only last 30 days.
However, that's where the similarities would end. For one thing, players would actually have to manually fly to their destinations via short 2D flight sequences. Players would have to watch out for obstacles and while Launchpad's crashes were always a fun part of the original show, crashing before reaching his destination meant losing precious days. From there, players would be placed in different stage types. The caves, for example, would see Scrooge and his party exploring adventure-style labyrinths, while other areas like the jungle would center around platforming. Unlike Capcom's platforming stages, however, Quest for Gold appeared far more primitive.
The Quest for Gold also featured some interesting qualities that the NES version did not. For one thing, the game featured some limited voice tracks. Launchpad McQuack would actually say "Ready to fly, Mr. McD!" prior to taking off on his bi-plane, while Scrooge's nephews would utter a line about reading out of the Junior Woodchuck's Guidebook. The different stage types also offered up some interesting variety, though none of those options proved particularly fun. Also, anyone looking for a soundtrack akin to what Capcom offered would be disappointed by the complete lack of background music. There's a reason Quest for Gold is largely left in the Disney vault and that's because it can hardly hold a candle to its cherished NES predecessor.
DuckTales 2 (1993)
While the original NES DuckTales was a revered classic, it's very easy to forget that Capcom would go on to create a sequel. That's because the sequel would land on the NES in 1993, two years after the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis ushered in the 16-bit era. Despite this, DuckTales 2 proved to be a solid game in its own right.
Many of the platforming elements of the original DuckTales game would remain intact, giving Capcom another chance to show off their level-making prowess. Capcom would also give Scrooge's cane some additional abilities. Players could now push and pull objects, hang onto hooks, and flip switches. It would offer a natural extension of the original's gameplay without overly compromising it, making it a fine extension of what fans of the original enjoyed.
DuckTales 2 doesn't get the same kind of love as the original game, mostly because it was a product of the past. Put aside the fact that it released after the 16-bit console wars had started. Not only had the DuckTales popularity period lapsed, but this game was also released nearly three years after the animated series was canceled. It was a case of "out of sight, out of mind" and it was far too early for nostalgia to kick in. With that said, DuckTales 2 is more of the same DuckTales goodness from Capcom and is something of a buried treasure. And even though the music wasn't as catchy, there were a few gems, like the "Niagara Falls" theme.
DuckTales: Remastered (2013)
Nostalgia for the old Disney Afternoon era was rising in the early part of this decade. However, no one ever expected to wake up on March 22, 2013 to the news that Disney Interactive, Capcom, and WayForward had all come together to bring back the beloved 1989 NES DuckTales with a complete top-to-bottom remaster. But DuckTales Remastered was indeed in the works and with WayForward's history of treating old franchises well (Contra 4, chief among them), there was every reason for fans to get excited.
While restored graphics was fine and all, all parties went the extra mile with this game's presentation. Animated cutscenes, updated music tracks, and even the old surviving voice actors were all trotted out for this update and the final product proved to be everything a DuckTales fan could have wanted. Not only was everything returning intact, but WayForward even added an all-new tutorial stage and a brand-new final level that gives the original story's ending a little more suspense. That final level also offers something of a glimpse of what a fully-original WayForward DuckTales game might have looked like, utilizing its own precision platforming sequences and even some cool graphical touches, like silhouetted art and a sequence in which Scrooge would move forward as Glomgold also moved along in the distant background.
Did I mention the music? Yes, the music was fully restored and better than ever. As an example, let's listen to that Moon theme again, only with a more modern twist.
For as beloved as the old DuckTales show was, cameos were few and far-between in video games. However, Scrooge had a few cameos you may have missed. The big one, of course, is Disney Infinity, where Disney Interactive has sprinkled in elements of the old show. Scrooge's Money Bin is available as a set piece, while Beagle Boy Costumes will lurk around Toy Boy mode as enemies. And while Scrooge isn't available individually, his Costume counterpart is an unlockable part of the Toy Vault and can be used as a prop.
There's still a lot of DuckTales content that hasn't made it in yet, but Disney Interactive hasn't forgotten the show. In fact, they closed 2013 with a special DuckTales Challenge that displayed the Disney Infinity community's amazing creativity.
Scrooge's other lone gaming cameo came in the Kingdom Hearts series, tying together a minor subplot surrounding that world's tasty Sea Salt Ice Cream treat. Sora first bumped into Scrooge in Kingdom Hearts II, where the millionaire duck's latest endeavor saw him trying to replicate the Sea Salt Ice Cream recipe with little success. While this subplot resolved itself neatly over the course of KH2, it wouldn't be the Kingdom Hearts series if there wasn't further backstory. Thus Scrooge momentarily appeared again in the prequel Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, this time with Alan Young returning to voice the character, where audiences would be reminded what makes the old bird such a voice of experience.
Should players expect to see more of DuckTales when this new Disney XD series arrives? Well, given that DuckTales Remastered performed better than Capcom expected, there's plenty of reason to believe that Scrooge will return to video games sooner than later. After all, it would make good business sense and nobody knows business sense better than Scrooge McDuck.
Any other DuckTales memories we may have forgotten? Let us know in the comments.
Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Like a hurricane: A DuckTales timeline
Life is like a hurricane here in Duckburg
Race cars, lasers, aeroplanes, it's a duck-blur!
Might solve a mystery
Or rewrite history!
Duckburg seems like a pretty bad ass place (for the 1%)
Swimming around in gold coins has got to be hard on the elbows, though.