Quality Control – Duck Tales (NES)


Get Duck Tales for the NES from eBay
Get Duck Tales for the NES from eBay

Alright, so after trying our hand at a Falcom action-platformer/RPG, that was part of the insanely long Dragon Slayer series, our next Quality Control column (as I mentioned yesterday), takes us to a more traditional platformer – Duck Tales, from Capcom, part of a long series of Disney themed platformers from Capcom, this one based on the TV animated series, which featured Scrooge McDuck going on various Indiana Jones-ish adventures, plus having to contend with more conventional enemies like the Beagle Boys (who want to steal his money).

The Premise:

It is the first part of the show’s description that the game is based on.  As Scrooge McDuck, you travel around the world, to the Amazon Rainforest, “The African Mines” (presumably meant to be King Solomon’s Mines – just shortened to fit the NES’ character limit), Transylvania, the Moon, among other places, retrieving various legendary treasures, among other stuff, while going up against such classic Duck Tales foes as the Beagle Boys, Magica DeSpell, and Flintheart Glomgold.

The Good:

I have to say that the platforming in this game is very good. There isn’t any real “Mega Man” platforming in this game. I never got killed by jumps disappearing out from under me, or from particularly getting knocked off a platform by an enemy. If the platforming in Mega Man, or Castlevania annoyed you, you should be fine.  Additionally, the time limit for each stage is very generous, giving you plenty of time to figure things out.

The Bad:

This game has some re-spawning enemy problems, in that with most enemies (with a few exceptions), when the screen scrolls away from their spawn point once you’ve beaten them, if you scoll back or have to back track for any reason, the enemy comes back.

Also, while the game has multiple difficulty settings, the increase or decrease in difficulty is rather cosmetic – on easy the enemies deal less damage, on hard the enemies deal more damage. The number of enemies you face, the number of hits it takes to bring down bossses, or the amount of health or lives you posess, or the behaviour of enemies is not affected by this. This brings me to…

The Ugly:

This game is fairly long – there are 6 stages here, each with multiple paths to the end, and with a lot of treasure to collect, and you only start out with 2 lives. You can get extra lives by finding them in hidden areas of the game, as well as finding extra health in hidden areas of the game, howevere – ther are no continues and there is no password option, so when you get a game over, you will have to start over from the very beginning of the entire game, having to beat all the levels you’d previously beaten all over again.

Further, there is a fair bit of trial-and-error in this game, specifically related to enemy location, and to boss patterns. As I said, while there are extra lives you can find in this game, they’re hidden and there aren’t a lot of them, thus making every death in the game a bigger setback.

Considering that this game came out after Mega Man II came out, and the game lets you approach the levels in a non-linear fashion (similar to Mega Man), I would think that the game would give continues, or even a password option, so you could set the game down and come back to it later.

The Verdict:

This is a decent platformer, but the small number of lives, and the lack of either a password option or continues hurts the game in the long run. Unless you feel like banging your head against the wall, I’d reccomend giving this a miss for now.

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