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Along with Chip n' Dale Rescue Rangers, DuckTales began a successful wave of half-hour cartoons for Walt Disney in the late 80's and 90's. The show was extremely popular and best remembered as a frontrunner in The Disney Afternoon lineup, a 2-hour show widely followed by children. Because most of the DuckTales fanbase at the time also owned a Nintendo, it seemed like a natural move for Disney to infiltrate the gaming market. The verdict? Scrooge's Number One Dime never failed him in the animated series, and it didn't fail him in the Nintendo either: the 1990 DuckTales game by Capcom became one of the most loved NES games of all time.
In DuckTales, Scrooge McDuck, the richest duck in the world, hopes to amass an even greater fortune by collecting five legendary treasures scattered in five different locations. It's a typical platformer wherein the player hops from one place to another, taking care to avoid obstacles and enemies along the way. The unique thing about DuckTales is that Scrooge has the ability to use his cane as a pogo stick, thereby enabling him to jump at various heights and continuously bounce nonstop. Jumping with the cane also functions as the main weapon; any enemy that Scrooge lands on gets damaged. Unlike other games where the controls are shoddy, DuckTales has an excellent, finely-tuned jump action: you can predict how high Scrooge jumps and how far he lands. The jump button defines every platformer, and DuckTales nails it solidly.
In true Disney fashion, the different levels are colorfully done and the enemies are uniquely designed. Allies and villains from the show also make appearances in the game, either as friends who offer aid, such as Launchpad who helps Scrooge jump ravines, or troublemakers who hamper Scrooge's progress, such as Magica De Spell who acts as the final boss. The game has non-linear properties wherein the player can decide which of the five treasures he wants to acquire first. The player also has the choice of revisiting previous areas to search for items and hidden treasures that were missed during the first run. Finally, there are two alternate endings depending upon the total score.
DuckTales NES was a well-received video game, selling over a million copies. Adding to its value was an especially poignant piece of music in the Moon level. Rendered in beautiful 8-bit audio, the Moon Theme was simultaneously adventurous and bittersweet, like saying goodbye to the old and welcoming the new. Prophetically enough, within a year the 16-bit Super NES was introduced, and the 8-bit games were relegated to history. It also proved true for the players, who grew up and soon forgot cartoons and video games. Today, the Moon Theme holds a special place in the hearts of the NES generation and is a stark reminder of how quickly time passes.
DuckTales is a game with heart. It was created with significant effort and has large entertainment value. With the availability of DuckTales online, players can once again revisit the good ol' days gone by, even if only for a moment.
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