DuckTales is often a subject of NES-related nostalgia and was generally popular. The game provides a good example of the work produced by Capcom in the late 1980s and early 1990s, along with such titles as those in the Mega Man franchise; both shared key personnel such as Tokuro Fujiwara, Keiji Inafune and Yoshihiro Sakaguchi. DuckTales has much in common with the Mega Man games: bright and colorful graphics, tight play control with unique gameplay dynamics (such as using Scrooge's cane as a weapon, tool and pogo stick) and non-linear gameplay.
The player controls Scrooge McDuck, the richest duck in the world, on a quest for even more treasure. Scrooge can jump using the A button; his cane is used as a weapon to defeat enemies or strike objects (B button) and as a pogo stick to jump higher (A then B + Down). There is a wide variety of helpful non-player characters and enemy characters.
DuckTales comprises five levels that can be played in any order. A boss guards the treasure that Scrooge seeks at the end of each level. There are also two hidden treasures: a golden ring in the African Mines level and a golden mirror in the Moon level. Upon finishing all five levels, the player is directed back to Transylvania for the final boss fight. DuckTales contains some non-linear gameplay, in that the player can revisit levels to get items that unlock parts of other levels.
Lands and treasures
- African Mines – Giant Diamond of Inner-Earth
- Amazon – Sceptre of the Incan King
- Himalayas – Lost Crown of Genghis Khan
- The Moon – Green Cheese of Longevity
- Transylvania – Coin of the Lost Realm
- Scrooge McDuck—The player controls Scrooge throughout the game, making use of a variety of techniques, while collecting different items.
- Huey, Dewey and Louie—Scrooge's nephews pop up in various spots in the game, usually to offer hints or to restrict areas (e.g. in the Moon level) Scrooge does not yet have access to.
- Webby Vanderquack—Serves a similar function as Scrooge's nephews.
- Gizmoduck—Briefly appears to blast a wall open.
- Launchpad McQuack—Helps Scrooge over a pitfall in the Amazon. Also, he is found in every level (except Transylvania) where the player has the option of letting him take them back to Duckburg. If certain conditions are met, the player will enter a bonus round. Launchpad can be used only once per level.
- Gyro Gearloose—Shows up only in the bonus level, where he will launch diamonds at Scrooge.
- Mrs. Beakley —Appears in certain levels where she will drop life-regenerating food to Scrooge.
- Bubba—If you release him from the ice in the Himalayas, he will reward Scrooge with an extra energy slot.
- Magica De Spell—Scrooge fights this nemesis of his in Transylvania.
- Flintheart Glomgold—Scrooge must stop Flintheart from reaching the treasure before he does.
- The Beagle Boys—The Beagle Boys show up occasionally, usually as guards of a passage or while kidnapping one of Scrooge's nephews.
The NES version of DuckTales contains an alternate ending shown when the player finishes the game with at least $10,000,000 and has found both hidden treasures. The alternate ending consists of the same newspaper at the end of the game except the picture shows Scrooge McDuck with a crown on his head, and the paper also states that he "stunned the world with his discovery of 2 Lost Treasures."
There is another, lesser known alternate ending, shown when the player finishes the game with $0. Doing so requires very careful planning and is the most difficult ending to obtain. Scrooge is seen sobbing and the newspaper states that he has "lost his fortune in his search for the legendary five treasures. He will use them to rebuild his empire."
There were many differences between the beta version of the game and the final release. Many of these differences were seen in the 1990 book Consumer Guide: Hot Tips for the Coolest Nintendo Games.
- The levels went by different names: Jungle, Ghost House, Underground, Snow Mountain and Moon Surface
- Hamburgers were featured as the primary life restoring item (likely a reference to Burger Beagle's appetite); this was changed when it was learned that ice cream is Scrooge's favorite food
- The coffins in Transylvania had crosses etched on them instead of R.I.P. (although the "NES Game Atlas" Player's Guide released by Nintendo retained the crosses in its stage maps); contrary to popular belief, the crosses were removed from the Japanese release as well
- The Moon music played at a much slower tempo in the beta
- The Transylvania stage was entirely different in its structure
- GizmoDuck went by his Japanese name RoboDuck
- Launchpad referred to Scrooge as "Uncle Scrooge" in the beta, which made no sense in context
- The value of the gems was lower in the beta; red gems were only worth $3000 originally before their value was bumped to $10000 in the final version
- The drop rate for items was higher in the beta
- The alien enemies in the spaceship on the Moon level were an entirely different creature unrelated to the DuckTales franchise; these were changed to the fat one-eyed alien who appeared in the TV episode "Duckworth's Revolt"
- The conversation box was originally much shorter in the beta and was considerably lengthened in the final product to allow room for longer sets of text
DuckTales was also known as La Bande à Picsou in the French NES version, after the popular TV program of the same name (the French version of the DuckTales cartoon). The Japanese version of the game featured the same changes that were present in the western releases of the game (contrary to popular belief).
DuckTales was later ported to the Game Boy. That version features the same gameplay, music and levels with different sound and graphics. The layouts of the levels were changed slightly due to the lower screen resolution. In addition, the player only needed to press the A and B buttons for Scrooge to cane jump in the Game Boy version unlike the NES version where you also had to press the down button.
A sequel, DuckTales 2, followed in 1993. It didn't match the success or popularity of its predecessor, as consumers were focusing on the 16-bit consoles by that time, though the Game Boy version sold very well.
DuckTales was released to generally positive reviews, praised for its gameplay and soundtrack. Of particular importance is the "Moon" stage theme, which has since become one of the iconic tunes of the late 8-bit era (ScrewAttack listed it at #6 in its Top 10 Video Game Musics, where it was described as evoking the feel of the video game industry's recovery from the 1983 crash). The graphics were considered above average for the time. The characters were part of a popular Disney franchise and were easily recognizable. The game is considered a classic among many NES enthusiasts. Nintendo Power listed it as the 13th best Nintendo Entertainment System video game, praising it as fun in spite of being a licensed video game. The game was also a commercial success, as Capcom cites the game as having sold 1.67 million copies worldwide.
- Main article: DuckTales Remastered (Official Game Soundtrack)
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