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Remember When? “DuckTales”

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Main title screen.

No, not the TV show.  Do you remember the DuckTales video game released on the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)?  In the second of my series on retro games, I’m going to take you on a treasure-collecting journey with Scrooge McDuck around the world (and beyond).  So grab your cane and top hat and hit the link below!

DuckTales, like Adventures in the Magic Kingdom, was produced by Capcom.  It was released in North America in 1989 (with a version on the Game Boy coming in the following year).  The game features many of the characters from the cartoon series, including Scrooge McDuck (the character you control), his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie, Launchpad McQuack, Magica De Spell, the Beagle Boys, and more. 

Level selection screen.

Scrooge is on a mission to collect treasure to become the richest duck in the world, a mission that will take him to the Amazon, Transylvania, the African Mines, the Himalayas, and the moon.  Scrooge is equipped with his cane that also functions as a weapon and a pogo stick, allowing you to kill enemies by jumping on them pogo-style.

In the African Mines.

While you are able to choose what order you would like to play the levels, you may need to find objects in one level to gain access to areas in another level.  For example, you can’t play the African Mines without finding a key in Transylvania (shown in the screenshot above).  Also, don’t be afraid to do some searching for hidden treasures.  You are trying to become the world’s richest duck, after all (and you’ll get a small reward for doing so)!  Keep your eyes peeled for a golden ring and a golden mirror.

About to bounce on a mummy in Transylvania.

I said before that Scrooge’s cane has more uses than serving as a walking stick.  You can swing it to hit and move objects, and use it as a weapon.  To swing your cane, press the B button when up against an object.  To use it as a pogo stick and bounce on enemies (shown above), you have to jump (A button), then press down and the B button.  Sounds complicated, but you get used to it pretty quickly.  You can continuously bounce also, which can help you make a series of jumps or get out of an area crowded with enemies.

A crazed bunny and angry goat in the Himalayas.

If you get hit by enemies, though, be on the lookout for powerups scattered throughout the levels.  Ice cream cones replenish one point in the stamina meter, cake completely refills your stamina, Magic Coins make Scrooge temporarily invincible, Stamina Extenders (these look like stars) give you more stamina, and Scrooge dolls give you an extra life.  You’ll also get a plethora of diamonds, so collect these to increase your dollar value.

The boss for the Amazon.

When you get to the end of each level, you’ll face a boss that is guarding that level’s treasure (the screenshot above shows you the boss in the Amazon).  You can go back to a level after beating it to find other treasures in that level, adding to the game’s non-linear gameplay.  Once you beat all five bosses, you’ll have one final boss to face in Transylvania.  Beat the final boss and you beat the game, plus you’ll see how much money you’ve accrued on the way.


DuckTales was a decently successful game.  It definitely benefitted from the popularity of the TV show, which made the characters more recognizable to the public.  From the Wikipedia entry on the game:

DuckTales was released to generally good reviews, praised for its gameplay and soundtrack, which was composed by veteran Capcom composer Yoshihiro Sakaguchi (a.k.a. Yuukichan’s Papa). Of particular importance is the "Moon" stage theme, which has since become one of the iconic tunes of the late 8bit era. 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.

Also, for some wonderful inside information, head on over to this site featuring quotes from Darlene Waddington, a producer of the game.  These quotes were compiled over a small interview and from Waddington’s posts on a web discussion board.  There are some very interesting tidbits here.

DuckTales was one of my favorite games.  It was one of those that I never tired of.  I’ve gone back and played it since (most recently for this article), and I think it still holds value today.  The gameplay still feels good, it’s still pretty challenging, and I have fun playing it.

I said in the Adventures in the Magic Kingdom post that this series will be like a wish list of games I would like to see appear in Nintendo’s Virtual Console for the Wii.  With Epic Mickey creating publicity and with Capcom already a big presence in the Virtual Console scene, there’s no reason we shouldn’t see DuckTales on the Virtual Console.  So, I’ll say this to Nintendo, Capcom, and Disney: get on it!


5 responses »

  1. Wow!

    Talk about a walk down memory lane! I had forgotten how much fun we had playing that game.

    It does follow the Capcom “style”, just like the Mega Man games.

    • Very true. I loved playing the Mega Man games, too (except for the fact that I got way too frustrated with them!). I always had a blast playing DuckTales!

  2. This was a great game. I played it ENDLESSLY back in the day and somewhere I still have a Polaroid I took of my high score – it was something ridiculously high. Anyway, this was one of my absolute favorites and I’ve considered writing about it and Adventures in the Magic Kingdom several times.

    There have been very few Disney-related games of actual merit over the years, and DuckTales has always been something I wished they’d revisit.

    • I would love to see them revisit DuckTales. I think it’d be better for them to do it in a download service (like the Virtual Console, PlayStation Network, or XBox Live) rather than develop a new game. It’s pretty quick and cheap to port these older games to those services, and at around $5 a pop I think it would make some money.

  3. Pingback: Geek-End Update, Saturday, November 28, 2009 | Imaginerding

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