10 years on, DuckTales Remastered nails nostalgia

Scrooge McDuck exploring the Moon in DuckTales Remastered

“Capcom and WayForward rejuvenated a timeless classic with a modern twist a decade ago, setting the stage for a strong decade of remakes and remasters.

Before 2013, the notion of Capcom reviving DuckTales seemed like a distant dream. The gaming landscape had embraced contemporary approaches, leaving behind the allure of the past. Then, unexpectedly, Capcom announced a full-fledged modern adaptation of its 1989 masterpiece. A rarity at the time, this licensed game, rooted in the beloved animated series, stands as one of the finest licensed titles ever created. As Shacknews celebrates its 10th anniversary, we reflect on what made DuckTales Remastered a triumph, particularly from the 2023 perspective, an era teeming with remasters and remakes.

Capcom’s initial reveal of DuckTales Remastered made a bold impact. The unveiling trailer began with a powerful orchestral note, accompanied by testimonials from gaming luminaries extolling the original game’s influence. The trailer then showcased the WayForward logo, burst into the iconic DuckTales theme song, and unveiled a new art style reminiscent of the classic Disney Afternoon cartoon. Despite the updated visuals, the NES gameplay formula featuring Scrooge McDuck’s pogo stick, golf swing, bounce mechanics, and hidden treasures appeared to remain untouched.

The 2013 announcement highlighted, “Every frame of movement from the original is represented, redefined and expanded upon. Oh yes, even side characters like Launchpad McQuack and Huey, Dewey, and Louie have graduated from static cameos to fully fleshed-out appearances.”

When DuckTales Remastered was released on August 13, 2013, Capcom and WayForward delivered on their promises. Players enjoyed an enhanced version of the original game, brimming with vibrancy. However, WayForward wasn’t the silent partner; they were integral to the project. Having proven their expertise with animated side-scrollers through the Shantae series and their adeptness with classic franchises in Contra 4 (2007), WayForward was well-equipped. Their contribution extended beyond a mere translation of the NES title; they went above and beyond.

The divergence from a one-to-one translation became apparent from the outset. WayForward’s intention to answer questions raised by the NES title, such as “Why was there a giant rat on the moon?” signified fresh content on the horizon. This approach paved the way for entirely new stages, like the initial romp through Scrooge’s Money Bin and the unprecedented finale on Mount Vesuvius. These stages seamlessly integrated with the original ones, providing a reward for players while infusing the ending sequence with newfound grandeur.

Furthermore, this new approach introduced cutscenes, marking a bittersweet juncture. Since 1989, time had claimed some of the original DuckTales voice actors. Joan Gerber, Hamilton Camp, and Hal Smith had passed on before the remaster. Notably, Alan Young, the veteran comedy actor and long-time voice of Scrooge McDuck, delivered his final performance for DuckTales Remastered. Young reprised his role flawlessly, reintroducing a new generation to the determined treasure hunter while paying homage to Capcom’s 8-bit adventure.

Scrooge and Launchpad's biplane in DuckTales Remastered

Music, a cornerstone of the NES DuckTales, demanded special attention. Fans worried about retaining perfection. Themes like the Moon, Himalayas, and Transylvania were iconic. Jake “Virt” Kaufman embraced the challenge, infusing symphonic and orchestral elements, resulting in astonishing improvements to these cherished tracks. Kaufman’s reimagining revitalized the boss theme and elevated the Moon theme, a musical trick that Disney officially recognized. Kaufman’s critical self-evaluation showcased his dedication to honoring the original while imprinting his touch.

Ten years later, remakes and remasters abound in the gaming landscape. 2023 has reintroduced Resident Evil 4, Dead Space, System Shock, Metroid Prime, Advance Wars 1 and 2, and Quake 2. A Super Mario RPG remake is on the horizon. In 2013, remakes and remasters faced uncertainty. Notable successes were rare, with some like Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (2008) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled (2009) falling short.

Amid cautious optimism, DuckTales Remastered emerged as a triumphant exception. Capcom’s perseverance has paid off; the game was briefly delisted due to rights issues but was eventually restored and remains available digitally, standing as a testament to its timeless appeal. Just as the 2017 DuckTales reboot paid homage to the original, 2013’s DuckTales Remastered skillfully brought forth the best of Capcom’s 1989 classic, setting a model for successful remakes and remasters.”

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