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Duck Tales

Year released: 1988
Company: Capcom
Genre: Action/Platformer

The NES is, for all intents and purposes, a child's toy. Let's face it: although we have transcended that age range and still find the console entertaining, the folks at Nintendo who made the NES did not intend it to appeal to folks in their early 20's. As such, it's almost unfair for us to be passing judgement on games targeted to an audience that's about 12 years our junior. Still, this reviewer presses on, but not without attempting to look at this game through a child's eyes.

The evidence that Duck Tales was created for an especially young audience is borne in the fact that the game is based off a cartoon show. And not a show that older folks watch as well1, either - this is a kid's show. So to rail on this game because it doesn't cater to a more mature taste wouldn't make sense. It's a game for children, and as far as games for children go, this game doesn't do a bad job at all.

For those poor souls who missed the Disney masterpiece known as Duck Tales, let me give you a brief overview: It centers around Scrooge McDuck trying to maintain his title of Richest Duck in the World. And for those who haven't played this game, here's the story: It centers around Scrooge McDuck trying to maintain his title of Richest Duck in the World. Notice a pattern? Granted, the stories on the show were somewhat more involving than in this game, but considering how Capcom could've mucked up the concept by adding scores of new characters or throwing a different motivation in, sticking to the premise was a good idea. Two gripes, though: First, I've always been under the assumption that Scrooge already is the richest; why does he have to go through all of these tribulations if it doesn't improve his standings? Second, I find the ending to have been constructed in quite a slapdash fashion. Yes, it's a short game; yes, it's a kid's game; but when all we get is two screens of contrived "Couldn't do without you" fluff, and not even giving us a credit roll, there's something wrong.

As stated above, this is an incredibly short game: five levels.2 And none of the levels are particularly demanding. So the common way to bash this game is to to say it's too easy. WELL, OF COURSE IT'S EASY! THIS IS A GAME FOR 9- AND 10-YEAR-OLDS!! WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM THEM?

Sorry. Hulked out there for a second.

Anyway, the real problem I have with the game's difficulty lies not in the fact that it's easy, but that the "Normal" and "Difficult" levels don't seem to be much more difficult. The only things that change from one difficulty level to another is that from Easy to Normal you lose a ball of energy for every hit as opposed to every 2; and from Normal to Difficult the cakes and magic coins all become ice cream. Other than that, there's really not much difference. Also, I've never seen the point of selecting the stages in order, especially considering how some levels have to be done in a particular order anyway. Unlike Mega Man, where the stage select enhanced the concept of one weapon working against another boss, Duck Tales doesn't have that.

The presentational aspects of the game are good enough. The graphics do a good job of bringing the atmosphere of the cartoon into the NES, although I've always thought that Scrooge dressed in blue, not red as in the game. I also have a bit of a complaint about the status bar on top of the screen disappearing whenever Scrooge bounces up that high. As for the music, that's probably the best element of this game. All five level themes are terrific, with the Moon and Transylvania receiving especially high marks. Unfortunately, the actual sound effects are quite annoying, particularly the sound that's played when an enemy is knocked out.

The play control is also fairly well done, par for the course when you're talking about Capcom. There is recoil present, although it doesn't handicap the player for very long and it pushes Scrooge back only about half a block. There are also two methods of attacking with your cane: the Golf Swing and the Pogo Bounce. The Golf Swing can be executed without too much trouble, although there doesn't seem to be too many places where it can be used. The bounce, however, is considered your primary method of attack, but employing it is awfully clumsy. You have to hold down, B and A to do it, and that's only going straight up and down - you have to press diagonally to move around.

Is the game fun? For kids, it probably is. As it stands, it works as a Quick Play, although it's a little long to be given that title. The music and atmosphere conveyed by the graphics make the game light and fun to play. Still, the game's shortness really hinders a person from playing the game for an extended period of time. I really don't see anyone pursuing this game past the one time they beat it.

In short, Duck Tales makes a pretty good game for kids, but those of us who are older aren't going to be as satisfied.

1. Powerpuff Girls, Gargoyles, and X-Men leap into mind.

2. Well, six, but the last one merely involves you going back to Transylvania.

Overall Ratings:

Play Control:
Technical Score: 13
Thrill: (Frustrating)
Aesthetic Score: 17
Overall Score: 71%

You are now listening to the Himalayas Music to Duck Tales.