Monday, January 19, 2015

#52GameChallenge - DuckTales: Remastered

I recently learned that no matter how long you’ve been gaming, and no matter much you’ve been able to say to yourself “it’s only a game…”, eventually a game will come along and make you not only rage quit, but also throw your controller like a petulant child. For me, it happened to be my third game in the #52GameChallenge, DuckTales: Remastered on the PS3.

Now I knew the original DuckTales for the NES was known for being challenging. I even have vague memories of a younger me playing it and not getting very far at all. However, despite this knowledge and history with the NES version, I didn’t expect the remastered version to be that difficult. Perhaps I expected Capcom to downgrade the difficulty significantly, or maybe I just thought that adult me could handle any game that younger me couldn’t handle. Regardless I was sorely mistaken, and my mental stability and controller both took a beating as a result.

That’s not to say that my overall experience with DuckTales: Remastered wasn’t enjoyable. On the contrary – I found the game to be not only beautifully redone in HD, but the artwork and voice acting were so well-done that I was bombarded with a wave of nostalgia multiple times while playing. Anyone who grew up reading DuckTales comics and/or watching the cartoon will immediately recall some of the tied-in stories (even the weird one about the Terra-Firmians), and I almost guarantee it’ll have you on YouTube looking for episodes to watch.

As stated above, DuckTales: Remastered was infuriating at times, but it wasn’t so all the time. The game is a great platformer at its core, with the added element of having to use Scrooge McDuck’s cane to bounce on enemies to defeat them, and to reach high places. The game gives you the option of making the cane-bounce either easy or hard to use, hard being you have to press a button each time to bounce, and easy being you just hold the button down for continued bounce. I took the easy way and still had a tough time getting through the very first stage. However, once you got the hang of the controls you start to appreciate the challenge presented to you.

Each stage consists of Scrooge trying to obtain a lost treasure, and sometimes rescuing his friends or nephews, and while they sound like simply fetch missions, you’ll be presented with different obstacles in each level that requires you to change up your style of play. For example, the Himalayan level causes Scrooge to sink into the snow when he uses his cane-bounce, something that to that point you’ll become reliant upon if you played any level previously. DuckTales: Remastered does a great job of keeping the game fresh despite a limited range of game mechanics (there are even some DKC-esque minecart portions), which, if taken from the NES edition, must’ve been crucial to the original DuckTales cult success.

Prepare to throw something in rage...
I guess I should talk about my controller-flinging frustration with the game. Really it all boils down to cheap deaths, and there were plenty for me to get angry about. The real kicker for me was the final chapter of the game, but I think my frustration was a culmination of many other cheap deaths along the way. During the minecart sections I mentioned above, if you jump your momentum carries Scrooge along with the cart so he always lands back in it…that is until the tracks end. A few times I simply jumped assuming the momentum would carry me to safety only to plummet along with the minecart to my death. Other cheap deaths were the result of enemies knocking Scrooge back into a pit, and other enemies/obstacles causing insta-death without any warning. It all came to a head when the final level provided not only a spike in difficulty, but also the longest sequence of platforming action to that point in the game. I won’t spoil anything but let’s just say that after a grueling romp to get to and finally defeat the end boss, there are not one but two other platforming sequences to finally beat the game. They completely surprised me and on two occasions I died and had to start over during those two ending sequences. Yea, that’s when my controller got chucked and I rage quit. Thanks Capcom!

Still, through all that I persevered and eventually beat the game. There were fun things to do after beating the game like collect more money for your vault and use it to buy gallery art and music from the game and TV show, but I wasn’t really interested in any of that. Perhaps it was the recent frustrations I’d experienced that turned me off to 100% completion. Regardless, I had a decently fun experience with DuckTales: Remastered. There’s plenty there for masochists who want more of a challenge, but I’m not that person. I will say that I’m glad it was free, because while the nostalgia factor was high, the overall value was not worth spending money on, putting this game in a “rent only” category. At least I got the DuckTales theme song stuck in my head for a week, so I had that going for me, which is nice.

#52GameChallenge Progress: 3/52

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