♩ “Life is like a hurricane… Here in Duckburg.  Race cars, lasers aeroplanes, it’s a duck-blur.  Y’might solve a mystery, or rewrite history… DUCKTALES! (OOoo)…. “ ♩

Yes, that was all by rote from memory; thus is the life of us who grew up in the late 80’s.  For many people of my age DuckTales was a significant part of our childhood.  Everyone was watching the TV show and many were also playing the NES game.  Released in 1989 by Capcom and produced by one of the talents behind the Mega Man series, DuckTales was a huge leap forward in game design for the time.  While games like Super Mario Bros. 3 and Mega Man 2 could be considered objectively better games, DuckTales did so much in its mechanics to further games and still influence titles to this day.  It’s safe to say that Shovel Knight, one of the best games released so far this decade, would not exist in its current form today if it weren’t for DuckTales.  This is due in-part to the “pogo” mechanic, a core gameplay element that has Scrooge McDuck bouncing on the tip of his cane.  It’s used to traverse environments, defeat enemies and find any of the game’s many hidden items.  

Open levels with branching paths were also quite rare and DuckTales nailed that, too.  Borrowing the level select, play-your-way style of Capcom’s own design in Mega Man, players choose their path of choice, traveling to exotic locales around the world and beyond.  The goal is to retrieve the treasures stolen from Scrooge’s treasury but also to amass even more wealth along the way.  How can one take a dip in your Money Bin if it’s empty?  I suppose someone should get on that…

One thing that works in DuckTales’ favor is the pacing; This is a fast NES game.  While it isn’t as kinetic as something like the aforementioned Mario 3, it’s use of world design, enemy placement and exploration create an atmosphere to drive you forward and players have pushed this game to its limit.  It’s a speedrunning staple for the NES and is a game that inspires creativity in the approach to the game.  Sure, it can be played as a straightforward platformer but where’s the fun in that?  The goal for many players through the years has been to polish the use of the mechanics of the game in such as way to discover new ways to approach the challenges.  While there isn’t much in the way of upgrades in the game there is plenty to do, and trying to get the biggest score in the smallest amount of time possible is a popular test of skill among old-school gamers.

Visually, the game looks great.  Character sprites are bright and well-animated and Capcom took care to add detail in the animations and expressions.  Considering this is an NES game it’s astonishing how good this game looks.  In fact, I would say it is one of the more visually-impressive titles on the system.  The worlds are lush and varied as well and every scene just has a distinctly-Capcom feel to it.  Yet, as good as this game looks it is most often remembered for its soundtrack.  You may remember it listed high on my list of 20 Favorite NES Soundtracks and this is not simply due to the upbeat and melodic tones throughout the game, but primarily thanks to a single song; a song that could be the best song in the entirety of the NES library: The Moon Theme.  That is merely subjective, of-course.

Visually, the game looks great.  Character sprites are bright and well-animated and Capcom took care to add detail in the animations and expressions.  Considering this is an NES game it’s astonishing how good this game looks.  In fact, I would say it is one of the more visually-impressive titles on the system.  The worlds are lush and varied as well and every scene just has a distinctly-Capcom feel to it.  Yet, as good as this game looks it is most often remembered for its soundtrack.  You may remember it listed high on my list of 20 Favorite NES Soundtracks and this is not simply due to the upbeat and melodic tones throughout the game, but primarily thanks to a single song; a song that could be the best song in the entirety of the NES library: The Moon Theme.  That is merely subjective, of-course.