Saturday, March 16, 2013

VGR DuckTales 2

Tales of derring-do, bad and good luck tales, WOOooo-hooOW!!

VGR: Disney's DuckTales 2
From Capcom
Played on Nes
Also available on Game Boy

Type Sidescrolling platformer
Year 1993

This is it!
The last Disney X Capcom collaboration on the original NES.
By 1993, the show DuckTales was no long gone off the air (it ended in 1990).

Since this was one of the last titles Capcom would be contractually doing for Disney, it's only natural it would be a sequel to the very first one, the original DuckTales.
At the time they already had worked on the SNES on such games as Aladdin or Mickey Mouse's Magical Quest series.
Though they at least released 2 more cartoon-based games later, Bonkers and Goof Troop, however those were on the SNES only.

You'd think they would keep the best for the end...right?

The stories seems to take bits here and there from the cartoon actually.

One day Huey, Dewey and Louie found some sort of map in Uncle Scrooge's manor.
Apparently it was part of a forgotten treasure map Scrooge's great great uncle Fergus McDuck left behind for his gamily.
It talked about a secret treasure that was hidden somewhere. But also led to several locations across the world where other treasures where waiting alongside the other parts of the map.

So, obviously, Scrooge jumped on this quest.
But careful!
His arch-rival Flintheart Glomgold is also on the trail of McDuck's secret!

This quest will once again take our ducks all around the world.
But instead of something that looks like a globe, several destinations are glued randomly alongside each other on the main map selection menu.
Once again, it's a non-linear experience, you can choose wherever you want to go first.
This time Scrooge will explore the Niagara Falls, the Bermuda Triangle, Egypt, Scotland and the legendary sunken island of Mu... that is, apparently, but it looks a lot more like the Easter Island honestly.

It looks, sounds and plays mostly like the original game.
So what has changed exactly?

Well, for one, despite it's non-linear nature, there really is an implied order to go through the levels here.

The game takes some more ideas from it's predecessor series Mega Man, as well as bits from the various other Disney/Capcom games released before.
This time the game features some upgrades.

You can find several characters in the levels themselves.
The nephews mentioned above as well as Webby, Launchpad McQuack and Gyro Gearloose.
The little ducklings usually provide hints to find the treasures/finish the stage.
McQuack serves as checkpoint either before the boss or at mid-level. And you can use his checkpoint to either leave to the map menu or come back to that exact point.
You absolutely need to find Gyro Gearloose, he provides some updates that are necessary to progress.
He will give three different upgrades to Scrooge's cane that will allow him to break through harder blocks, kick unmovable boxes and move stuff around with your cane.

These upgrades are mostly useful to find more treasures and therefore money, or secrets areas.
BUT you might also get stuck in some places if you don't have those.
And even with Launchpad's checkpoints to go back to the main map, you can get stuck in level.
For example if you play Mu first, you won't have any of the 2 updates necessary to neither reach the end NOR find McQuack. SO RESET IT IS!!

So there's an implied order (like in Mega Man where getting X weapon will serve to defeat X boss and move unto Y stage, etc.).
And that order is following the default order without picking stages yourself. The game will put you in the correct default order (which doesn't start on the up left corner...)

Besides that "minor complaint", the game plays exactly like you'd expect.
It's a super precise sidescroller platformer on the Nes. Since this one was made in the 90s, there's no sloppy controls here, everything's tight and responds really well.

Like the previous DuckTales, you can jump with the A button. The cane is assigned to the B button.
To use it as a pogo stick just jump and hold B down, you don't need to press down or nothing silly like that anymore.
You can use the can to hit boxes and platforms like a club.
The new abilities get added automatically.
Like in Darkwing Duck you can also hang on stuff, such as ropes and hooks. There's lots of precise segments that will have you jumping from hook to hook.

There's still gems and secret treasures to find around.
But this time they serve a purpose. The game uses an in-game shop similar to TaleSpin.
You get there in-between levels, there you can buy items that go from the jump/health power-up to the additional continue - very useful. Pretty standard stuff.

The game looks gorgeous. It's very colorful in a "Master System-kind of way", and I say that as a compliment. Though it does suffer from some rare slowdowns.

There's boss fights at the end of each level.
You don't need to find all the pieces of the map. Nor get all the hidden treasures.
But you want to you can always return to a level already completed to either get more money for the shop or the missed stuff.
Getting all the parts of the hidden treasure map will get you to an additional 6th level. The game does feature a bad ending, a good ending and a secret one.

The music was composed this time by Minae Fujii.
It maybe a bit more generic and less memorable. Less iconic certainly.
But it does the job.

Overall, it's a pretty good game.

Keiji Inafune's last title on the Nes.
But perhaps it suffers from some poorly implemented ideas or a rushed production.
The game is only 5 short but slightly difficult stages-long. And the final confrontation takes you back to one of those WITHOUT even exploring it a bit.

But it does have some good ideas, like featuring an optimized gameplay based on the original DuckTales.
Since it was developed after all these previous Disney titles, it does take the sum of the best parts from all of those.

My only complaint is that the stages order is important even if you can choose whatever you want (trial and error - try it a few times and choose carefully to avoid getting stuck on Mu like me on my last playthrough). It does feature some exploration and adventure elements in a way.
Like Mega Man games have you using items obtained from bosses to help you on other levels, here you need to practice a bit and learn the stages.

This game was not very succesful due to most people having moved onto the 16-bit systems by that time.
It is a decent sequel, but got ignored back then.
The Game Boy port fared much better with people even though it is the exact same game.
I give it:
2 / 3 Bruces!

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