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January 9, 2017

DuckTales Remastered (Part 2)

In Part 1, we stopped an attack from the Beagle Boys on the Money Bin, and then we uncovered a backscratcher – I mean, an important scepter from an Incan castle in the clouds, in the Amazon. Or was it Aztec? Or Mayan? I’ve never been good at differentiating those three – and I’m far from the only one! Alright, so what’s our next stop?

Ah, these kids... always getting into trouble.
This treasure hunt now takes us to Draculesti Manor in Transylvania, to look for the Coin of the Lost Realm. The triplets and Webby absolutely want to join. Oh right, it is perfectly fine to bring kids along on an adventure taking place in a manor that belonged to an actual vampire! In the very first room, the triplets fall into a trapdoor, forcing Scrooge to go and look for them. Hey, I just realized; it’s the second time these kids get kidnapped… and Webby still hasn’t been captured a single time! Okay, let’s go.

Oh God, that music! It’s awesome! Wait, is that… dubstep I hear in there? In that tune about horror? Oh wow, that must be the first time ever that I actually enjoy a song using dubstep. I must also admit that while I love the upgraded visuals in every level of this game, I like the little touch in the Transylvanian manor: There are historical portraits of ducks in the backgrounds – and their eyes are moving to stare at Scrooge as he walks. Now that is really neat.

That painting is looking at me! I could swear it!

In the original DuckTales, this Transylvanian castle had a rather short path towards the boss, but a lot of bonus areas to collect diamonds in. Most levels of the game were like this, actually; the path to the boss was simple if you knew where to go, but you could also just aim for a high score and get all the diamonds you could. Once again, DuckTales Remastered instead forces the player to visit most areas – and here, you won’t be able to progress towards the boss if you don’t save the triplets.

And as luck would have it, each triplet has been captured by a ghost in a bedsheet… Oh wait, no, actually, each ghost is a Beagle Boy. And somehow they each take three hits, while every other generic Beagle Boy in the game takes only one. And for some reason, the last two Beagle Boys you fight are somehow aided by the indestructible real ghosts that are haunting the place! How much sense does that make? Scrooge defeats each Beagle Boy, saves Huey, Dewey or Louie, and the Beagle Boy storms off, dropping a piece of paper in the process. Ah, how I love the contrived coincidences of enemies running away and somehow having something ultra-important drop out of their pocket while they run!

Judging by Scrooge's lines in that part, it appears the authors
of the game are aware of the trope called "Minecart madness".

Once all three triplets have been saved, Scrooge realizes that the three pieces of paper form a scroll, with a spell that becomes necessary to reach the boss.

Scrooge is joined by Huey, Dewey, Louie and Webby just as he finds the great mirror, and inside it, Magica DeSpell appears to gloat. Not even realizing that Scrooge can actually go through the mirror now, and give her a pogo jump to the head. Have you ever had your head smashed by the full weight of an adult male duck balancing on a cane, pressing down on your skull? It friggin’ hurts, as Magica is about to learn.

She’s a pretty tough boss, with a lot of hit points – and some very dastardly techniques. The original game had her just fly around as a vulture and attack sometimes; here, she can summon rows of fire to burn Scrooge – Magica, you got it wrong, that’s not how you cook a canard à l’orange! She can also summon mirrors to attack. A pretty tough boss, but soon she’s defeated, and Scrooge finds the Coin of the Lost Realm.

Hopefully we’re done with Magica. Talk about a witch with a capital B. I swear, this damned Draculesti Manor… It was enough troubles as is, I'll be glad never coming back to it! With his wealth, Scrooge should just tear it down and build a hotel over it. He should call it… Hotel Draculesti. Hm… nah. We’ll think of a better name later.

My favorite line from that entire level: "If I hear one more word about
thee mines being haunted, I'll start haunting them meself!"
Okay, off to the African mines. In the original DuckTales, the level was closed off at the beginning by a locked door – forcing Scrooge to go back to the Transylvanian manor to retrieve the key. There was no actual explanation for this – why Transylvania? In the same level where we fought duck skeletons, ghosts and mummies? Here, as soon as we enter the mine, we see all the workers in it fleeing, calling the mine haunted. Of course, Scrooge doesn’t believe any of this – never mind the fact that, merely one level earlier, he faced actual, indestructible freaking ghosts. Oh, and if the ghosts weren’t enough, there have been earthquakes around the place for a short while now. This time around, Scrooge actually has to look for the key to the elevator so that he can go down and find the treasure hidden down there. Granted, it’s easy to find. What follows, however, is a pretty tough level.

In the original DuckTales, two levels had special, extra treasures to look for. Much like the treasure at the end of each level, that extra trinket would also give Scrooge a million dollars. These were hidden in the African mine and on the Moon; and as an extra, the hidden treasure in the African mines also led to a shortcut towards the boss. DuckTales Remastered actually did away with these extra treasures, meaning that if you want to reach the boss, you have no choice but to take the long route. And yet, it would have been a neat bonus to have these extras in the game, as you need a LOT of money to unlock everything there is to get! But nope. Oh well. There’s also a whole new section with a giant rolling boulder that you MUST go through, in order to unlock the path downwards. Because sure, let’s cut off some stuff and replace it by other, more dangerous stuff.

Although, once again, the revamped music is really great.

The second half of the level is pretty straightforward, so you can’t really get lost – it does feel, however, like they made a lot of major changes to the original level (as an example, the boss room is located a lot lower than before, and to reach it you have to do the last part of the long path from the original DuckTales, but backwards). We also get a quick scene of Scrooge encountering weird balls with protruding heads and arms. Soon, we reach the boss room…

With dozens of those ball creatures in the background, and one in front of the others – a king-like one, with beard, cape, crown, scepter, all that! These creatures, calling themselves Terra-Firmians, are apparently in the middle of their Great Games – an event in which they probably play dodgeball using each other. Either way, this is what’s been causing the earthquakes in the mine; Scrooge asks them to stop. The King of the Terra-Firmians thus challenges Scrooge.

A torrent of spheres? That's one ballsy attack.
The original boss would only roll around its room to try and attack. This one can do that, but it can also go into the background and call a wave of his fellow ball-people to try and ram into Scrooge, or blow into a horn, causing large boulder to fall on the battlefield. One the King is defeated, Scrooge explains that their games is stopping his workers from mining for diamonds. The King of Terra-Firmians then says that since those rocks can’t be rolled on and are too sharp for their taste, they’ll gladly fork over any and all “garbage rocks” they can find and slow down their “Games”; as long as they can stay in the mine, of course. And thus we receive the Giant Diamond of the Inner-Earth!

Let's take an impossible dive!
Back at the Money Bin, the nephews snicker and joke that, yes, a large group of ball-people living deep underground and playing sports that cause earthquakes, this makes so much more sense than ghosts! For all that trouble, I would have preferred a ghost, really.

A quick note about the Money Bin: This is where you select a level, but you can also go for a dive in the bin (which, again, is gross because that money could have been anywhere on a person, and yuck, and besides it’s still a hard surface that Scrooge should logically crash his face on, but now I’m just rambling). There’s also a whole section where you can buy art using the money you collected in the game. It’s divided in a few sections, and you must buy most of the art in the unlocked sections to unlock a new one.
With the corresponding 8bit sprites, no less!
-A closer look at the new art for the various characters, both allies and enemies, in the game;
-Concept art for the various locations seen in the game;
-Sketches for those same locations;
-Pencil renders for those locations – wow, that’s a lot;
-Paintings of the backgrounds on the seven locations;
-A Music section where you can listen to the tracks used in DuckTales Remastered; the last tracks in that section are the original 8-bit versions, so you can properly compare. Neat!;
-Last but not least, two full pages of art from the TV show: Pencil renders, cels, that sort of thing. Also the most expensive items to get here, some costing a full million, often more.

How much does it cost to unlock everything? Over 60 millions. Considering you get anywhere from 1.5 to 3 millions per level (with more money earned on higher difficulties), this means you can take quite a while to unlock all of the art. There’s an achievement linked to that, too, so you’d better be ready. Yup, you’re rewarded for doing the opposite of Scrooge and overspending on stuff that is near-useless.

Sorry Webby, you can not come along. Scrooge is a terrible sitter. I mean,
have you seen how often he puts his nephews in the middle of danger?

The next stop in this treasure hunt brings us to the Himalayas. Webby wants to come along, as she wants to see the Himalayan marmots, but Scrooge asks her to stay at the Money Bin with his nephews. He asks Launchpad to bring him there in the plane. No, Scrooge! Ask him to take the helicopter! The plane has wings! It isn’t safe! Helicopter, Scrooge! Helicopter! Fine, don’t listen to me. Crash in 3... 2…

Told ya so!

Sums my thoughts perfectly.
They can’t go anywhere until Launchpad repairs that damn airplane. Which will be easy, as long as he has that fuel regulator! …Which he subsequently accidentally drops down into the Himalayan caves. Scrooge tells Launchpad to get to work while he goes to recover the fuel regulator. Neither of them notices a young duck with a pink ribbon among the boxes… Webby, you should know that climbing into a plane piloted by Launchpad is dangerous!

Ah yes, getting stuck in the snow. I know that all too well.
We're waist-deep in the stuff in Quebec at the moment.
Scrooge ventures into the level and finds the fuel regulator… which is then attacked by Himalayan rabbits and split in three pieces. Eeeyup, gotta visit most of the level to find them, once again. Oh, by the way, the whole place is covered in snow, so if Scrooge tries to pogo-jump, he can get stuck in the cold ground. Okay, he still can use it on ice or on other hard surfaces, but anywhere else? Yeah, better forget it. I like how this level, simply by being on a snowy mountain, strips Scrooge almost entirely of one of his best ways to go around quickly and defend himself effectively.

Batman's Mister Freeze would have a field day making
puns out of this situation.
On his quest for the pieces, Scrooge finds a sector blocked off by large ice blocks, with something in one of them. It’s Bubba! I don’t really remember the new characters from the last seasons of DuckTales, but they still show up here: Bubba and Fenton Crackshell, AKA Gizmoduck. Here, Bubba can be freed by Scrooge using the pogo jump, after which he’ll gladly help Scrooge find his way around. In the original game, all Bubba did was open a way to an extra heart for Scrooge’s Hit Points. Here, he’s so overjoyed at being freed from the ice that he swings his club around, destroying any icy obstacles. Hey, watch it, you’re gonna hurt someone! Too late, there goes Scrooge’s webbed foot. Ouch. And it was his right foot, too; the one he used the most!

Better for Scrooge to (heh) duck while Bubba is smashing blocks of ice.
Wouldn't want to risk getting struck by that deep cold.

Quick note: Is it just me or Bubba sounds like he would start going “Bubba-saur!” at any moment now? It’s like a Pokémon was given the gift of speech. Not even a pun, I think the caveduck’s voice sounds like a Bulbasaur. Oh, he also gets rid of the enemies in the way, so that’s nice. Also, Scrooge decides to bring Bubba home. He sure owes that to his prehistoric pal.

Oh, and while I’m digressing, can I say that the new tune for the Himalayas is awesome? For some reason, they went with an electric guitar for part of it. Always a good thing in my book!

Ah please, Scrooge, that's not very nice to Webby.
Soon enough, Scrooge finds all three pieces and returns to Launchpad. Weirdly enough, there are also Beagle Boys in this level! Goddammit, how can they be in every single level Scrooge goes in? Do they spy on him or what? Do they know about the treasure map – even though they failed to retrieve it at the beginning of the game? Doesn’t make much sense, does it? Anyway, Scrooge comes back to Launchpad. Bubba’s there, and they find Webby. At first Scrooge is angry, but has no choice but to tag her along. And hey, the plane is ready! But the crew is attacked in the skies by Flintheart Glomgold, Scrooge’s rival from Africa, who’s in his own plane!

Uh oh! That bomb is gonna blow! Also dammit, even in
the skies, we gotta encounter Beagle Boys!
Surprise boss battle in the skies! Not a dogfight, because I’m sure Launchpad would crash his plane into the opponent somehow. Nah, instead, Glomgold will toss bombs and Beagle Boys over to Scrooge’s plane, and Scrooge has to pogo-jump on the Beagle Boys to defeat them and toss the bombs back at the enemy plane. A quick boss battle, not extremely tough, but still tricky – since there was no such fight in the original and it comes a bit out of nowhere. Gotta wonder how Glomgold knew that Scrooge was in the Himalayas, though. Also gotta wonder why neither duck freezes in place, without any pants or shoes in one of the coldest places on Earth.

Not a very impressive yeti there...

Finally, Scrooge and crew find Shadow Pass, where the Lost Crown of Gengis Khan can be found. Except it’s guarded by a yeti. In the original game, since the battlefield was covered in snow, Scrooge couldn’t make a high jump with his pogo-cane, so the yeti was about as big as him. This time around…

Holy crap! All the other bosses look tiny in comparison!
Yikes, that is one large, angry creature! How to defeat this one? It’ll often cause ice and stones to drop down, so Scrooge can send one of those rocks upwards with his cane, to make a large block of ice fall on the yeti’s head, sinking it down into the snow – low enough that Scrooge can pogo-jump on the creature’s head. When the yeti is defeated, Webby and Launchpad run in, with Webby explaining that the yeti here is a lady. As for why she was in such a duck-killing mood, Webby explains, through her unexplained ability to understand animals that don’t speak human languages, that she was angry due to stepping on a spiky thing, and that it’s still on her foot. Realizing that it could be what he’s looking for, Scrooge dives into the snow – no weirdness there, he can dive into money, snow is hardly a problem – and comes back out with the Crown! Yay, we did it! Gee, it’s awfully convenient that Webbigail was with them, huh? This game has more convenience than a friggin’ store!

Oh alright, she tried to kill me, but she was just angry because
she had something under her foot. I suppose that makes her
murderous intent perfectly A-okay, huh?

Alright, we’ve found four of the five great treasures. Only one left, on the… Moon? Oh great, that’ll be pretty far from here! But Scrooge has never backed down from an opportunity to make more money, even if that means going to space! See ya in Part 3! (Wow, I never expected this review to get so big…)