Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

Review: Ducktales (NES)

with 16 comments

dt_nes_boxConsole: NES
Released: 1989
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Difficulty: Moderate
Price: $14.05 (used, cart only), $48.98 (used, complete), $167.61 (new) – Please note: This is a recent spike in value with the release of Ducktales Remastered, approximately 45 percent, and may soon drop.
Digital Release? No, although a re-creation of the original, Ducktales Remastered, is now available on Xbox 360, PS3, WiiU, and PC

dt1Ducktales is one of those rare titles on the NES that has a universal love from anyone who talks about it.  That’s because it is a perfect example of what most of us who grew up with Nintendo’s 8-bit console loved about gaming, and all with a Disney license to boot.  Granted the developer was Capcom, who at the time was responsible for Mega Man and several other gems on the same console, but Ducktales proved that you could experiment and still get a game right.  It was fun, it was addictive, it looked good, it sounded great (one of the signature soundtracks of that era), and of course sought after thanks to licensing deals that will surely prevent a re-release.

At face value it was a standard side-scrolling platformer where you control Scrooge McDuck as he journeys the world looking for treasure.  Where it diverges from this classic formula is that of the five levels you explore (Amazon, Mines, Transylvania, Himalayas, and the Moon) you are given the option what order to complete them in.  It doesn’t really matter, although from a difficulty standpoint there can be a given order, but I know plenty of fans that have played it enough to do whatever order you choose.  I also think due to the various hidden items throughout each level there is a need to complete certain levels in an order if you want to collect a million dollars and get the true ending.  This is all before you even start the game, where you learn about the other great mechanic: the pogo cane.  Probably one of the most notable gameplay mechanics of the console, Scrooge’s pogo cane allowed him to take out enemies Mario style but also get through hazards like spike pits untouched.  Later in the game it will also be the only way to traverse large pits by jumping on the heads of attacking enemies or proper placement of an enemy to reach a seemingly untouchable spot.  Once you master the cane, this title is a cinch.

ducktales04If you know the game and are well versed, it can easily be completely within an hour, however like so many other NES games it’s the consistent practice and repeats that elongate this experience.  Unlike many other brutal titles of the era – Ninja Gaiden and Castlevania immediately come to mind – you will have a blast journeying through the world of Ducktales again and again.  Some games just get it so well and withstand the test of time that even publisher Capcom couldn’t resist bringing it back in Ducktales Remastered, which itself proves the popularity of this title.  If you’ve never experienced it, you may want to strongly consider the remastered version (although I have yet to play it), but I foresee plenty of fans picking up the original as well.  You have to be able to appreciate dated graphics and gameplay, not to mention it helps to be at least somewhat familiar with the cartoon, but in return you will experience one of the best games the NES had to offer.

Final Score: 5 out of 5

Written by Fred Rojas

August 12, 2013 at 11:05 am

Posted in NES, Reviews

Tagged with , , , ,

16 Responses

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  1. This is one of the games I missed back then, I played a ton of Super Mario Bros 3, and Rygar though.
    Great review.


    August 12, 2013 at 12:11 pm

  2. I missed out on the NES version of DuckTales since I was a bit too young, but the GB version is still one of my most favorite GB games and I even still own and play my original cart!

    It’s really surprising, because I never particularly enjoyed reading / watching DuckTales as a comic or cartoon, or any other Disney show for that matter (Gummi bears, boooring). I always was more of a Scifi / Anime type even as a kid (Sabre Rider / Galaxy Rangers FTW!!!), but the DuckTales game I simply loved to death, especially the soundtrack. And the arranged soundtrack alone has me extremely excited for the Remastered version of DuckTales.

    So thank you very much for this blast of the past review and the chance to win the new version!


    August 12, 2013 at 3:23 pm

  3. I wasn’t alive when this came out. But remember playing it with my cousins years after.

    This review makes me want to find the closest DeLorean and go back to play it new! Great great review.

    Isaiah Maurer

    August 12, 2013 at 7:57 pm

  4. I never played it back in the day because I preferred chip and dale rescue rangers over the original ducktales game. Now that remake is almost out I wanna see what the fuss is about this game.


    August 12, 2013 at 8:06 pm

  5. This one of my favorites growing up, back in the day everyone I knew owned few games so the ones you had you played ALOT. Duckstales was one of the ones I owned. I look forward to playing for the nostalgia and seeing all the remastering. Thanks for the chance.

    JD B

    August 13, 2013 at 2:37 am

  6. I want it on the PC

    Chip Cella

    August 13, 2013 at 6:08 pm

  7. this is an awesome review and its taken me back to my childhood thanks fred for being Awesome
    Robin-42 Level One


    August 13, 2013 at 6:09 pm

  8. I remember playing this back in the days, It was a great game. 🙂


    August 13, 2013 at 6:11 pm

  9. I love this game, It reminds me of my childhood, some many hours spent on this. I can’t wait to play the remastered version. 🙂 Great review. Wish I still had my collection from my childhood, I kept box and instructions for collecting reasons since I was 5.

    Jefferson Coote

    August 13, 2013 at 6:14 pm

  10. Would be much better if this was a steam code

    Fortytwo Effem

    August 13, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    • Trolls, all of you!


      August 13, 2013 at 6:31 pm

  11. What about on the Mac?

    Chip Cella

    August 13, 2013 at 6:17 pm

  12. Dude!! DUCKTALES! What the hell can I say? I love this game even though I’m completely retarded at it.


    August 13, 2013 at 7:02 pm

  13. I didn’t read the thing about the contest until just now. I still stand by the fact that I love this game even though I sucked at it. But I love everything about Ducktales. When I heard the announcement for the new one I felt like a little kid again. Hell, I’m gonna be getting it regardless if I win or not and also plan on getting the series on DVD.


    August 13, 2013 at 7:07 pm

  14. I really loved this game as kid growing up, and would love another chance/reason to revisit this, updated or not. Rented it about 3 times for Blockbuster, but never owned an actual copy, and beat it every time! It’s Definitely a game you power through to beat it in one seating, not just cause it did not include a battery save function, because its catchy tunes and awesome game play. Oh Capcom; how the once mighty have fallen.


    August 13, 2013 at 10:36 pm

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