Race cars, lasers, aeroplanes: Duck Tales plays beautifully, with some concessions for modern gamers
“It was something we knew that fans wanted,” Rey Jimenez, the producer of the updated Duck Tales Remastered, told the Report at the Game Developers conference. Capcom and Disney had brought the idea of refreshing the game to each other a few times over the past few years, but it finally got to the point where they were on the same page at the same time, and the project went ahead.
The press and fans reacted with glee when the title was announced at PAX East, and that joy continued when it was announced that the original game play of the Capcom original wouldn’t be touched. Jimenez said that both the game play and level design are nearly identical to the game we remember on the NES.
I had a chance to sit down and play the haunted house level, and he’s right; I was able to bounce on my cane, swing at the coffins to release either treasure or ghosts, and I remembered the locations of the walls you could walk through for an extra heart piece or to get to the boss battle. The game now features beautiful character art and animations, but the actual mechanics of the game remain the same. You can, on the other hand, switch things to an easy cane mode where you don't have to push down to bounce on your cane.
You're a bad person if you choose this option.
There is new content, however, including a tutorial level and a final level that leads to the last boss. There are also story segments that open each level with new voice acting from either the original actors from the television show, or the official voice replacements Disney hired to portray the characters in the parks, video games, and other events. Wherever you hear these voices, they will be played by the same actors, giving the project a definite air of authenticity.
“The NES version did have some dialogue, but it was very basic. We have added new lines as well as expanded on the lines that are already there,” I was told. “The intro movie you saw when you started the level was pretty much all new dialog. We’re taking the story that was there and expanding upon it.” More things will be explained. Why are Huey, Dewey, and Louie missing? They fell into a trap at the beginning of the level, and now you see that.
“If there was a question you had about the story as a kid, you’ll get the answers here,” Jimenez said.
The game is filled with neat details and tricks. The pictures on the walls of the haunted house follow the character, but they weren’t animated to do so; the developers actually adjusted the models in the game's 3D engine to make the eyes on the pictures concave. They follow you due to the same optical illusion that’s used in the Haunted Mansion at Disney World. I was told the entire game was built this way; the character models are created in 3D with 2D textures laid over them.
“As far as tweaking for the modern audience, one of the biggest concessions is the map,” Jimenez explained. “As you fill out the map, it will show you where you’ve been, and there will be points on it that say where to go, and where to find bosses. If you play easy mode, the map will be completely filled out. If you play hard mode it won’t be there at all.”
The difficulty ratings will also impact the design of the bosses, and how much health is given to characters. The team did a significant amount of focus testing to make sure players who grew up with the game would be happy with the design, while children would be able to pick it up and play it without growing too frustrated.
This is more thought than the rest of us were given during the days of the NES, I’ll remind you. We were simply thrown into the pool while being yelled at to swim. Still, you can't fight progress, and the ability to simply remove the map is welcome. This is the right way to bring a classic game back to players, and I can finally confirm it plays as well as it looks.