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January 13, 2017

DuckTales Remastered (Part 3)

We’ve got five levels completed and only one major treasure left to find – on the Moon! (Be sure to read the previous parts if youmissed them!)

Treasue hunts always put Scrooge in a jolly, jumping mood.

And thus, Scrooge prepares to go where few (if any) ducks have gone before, on his quest for the Green Cheese of Longevity! Geez, these treasure have fancy-as-Heck names. It’s a good thing Gyro Gearloose has a rocket ship ready for the trip! Scrooge brings along his accountant, Fenton Crackshell, in case he’d need the duck’s various talents.

I'm not blaming WayForward, they made excellent spriting
work, but Fenton really needed a "astonished", "wow"
expression here. No one goes to the moon and is this bored.
This game also answers the existential question many gamers have had since the original DuckTales game: How could Scrooge breathe in space? The answer, apparently, is a special chewing-gum recipe by Gyro that supplies the chewer with oxygen. A very poorly-tasting gum that is mentioned once with chewing sounds, and then every subsequent interaction on the Moon forgets the chewing. Still doesn’t explain why there’s Earth-like gravity on the surface of the moon, nor how Scrooge, Gyro or Fenton’s bodies don’t suffer in any other way from the lack of oxygen or atnosphere…

Let's explore this gigantic spaceship that conveniently
appeared on the Moon. Gee, I sure hope they're not
invaders trying to take over Earth. If they are, my hunt
for the Green Cheese will be the least of our troubles...

Scrooge seems way too happy to be able to swim in the
air. Perhaps it reminds him of when he swims through
solid metals back home.
A moment later, a giant alien spaceship comes over them and takes away Fenton and his briefcase containing the pieces of the Gizmoduck suit. We gotta save him because, as it turns out, Gizmoduck is needed to blast open the way towards the Green Cheese. In the original game, we just had to retrieve the remote control to call Gizmoduck. Here, we actually need to find Fenton (and save him, then repair the artificial gravity), and then find the three pieces of the Gizmoduck suit. After which we must go back to Gyro’s ship, where Fenton will have the Gizmoduck suit equipped on him, and then Scrooge and his bodyguard will run to the blocked path towards the Green Cheese.

God, that music is amazing. Such a huge improvement over the original theme for the Moon level, which is already considered one of the best NES tunes of all. And this art! The moon scenes are so great, and so are the screens in the alien spaceship!

Killing space ducks is fun! Even if you're a duck too!
Soon the pieces of Gizmoduck are collected, and Scrooge brings them back to Fenton, who puts on his superhero outfit. And thus, we get one of the most awesome moments in the game: Gizmoduck following Scrooge around, destroying every enemy in sight on the way to the blockade. It. Is. Glorious. As for the blockade? Scrooge’s assistant tosses everything he got at it, including missiles, bombs, and a pair of dirty boxer shorts. Which, where did he get that? These ducks wear nothing below the belt!

These guys aren't bright. Scrooge's there, they don't attack.
That’s when an army of Beagle Boys, accompanied by Glomgold, run into the cave to look for the Green Cheese. Riddle me this, Batman: We know how Scrooge, Fenton and Gyro breathe in space, but how do the Beagle Boys and Glomgold do? This is never explained, and I doubt the writers ever will explain it. I mean, don’t even count on them to explain just how the Heck the Beagle Boys knew Scrooge was on the moon at that precise moment, or how they got there themselves!

Most bosses turn red when they're pissed enough.
This one turn fluo green. Points for creativity, I guess.
Scrooge goes in the cave and defeats the hordes of Beagle Boys, and arrives at the final room, where the Green Cheese of Longevity awaits… well, until it’s gulped down by one of those rats freed from the alien spaceship along with Fenton earlier! The giant rat is an admittedly tough boss, though its original pattern was ridiculously simple; run left or right, then jump left or right on the higher platforms, then go back down and resume. Easy as Heck. Here? When the rat is struck a few times with the cane, it’ll become invincible for a moment and pop out of any of the holes in the background before running at Scrooge. Still, that only makes the boss a little harder, and soon it’s defeated, spitting out the treasure.

That Magica... why does she always show up at the worst times?
Almost makes me miss Merlock.
With now all five main treasures found, Scrooge returns to the Money Bin, where he celebrates his victory. Sadly, this is short-lived, as the Beagle Boys and Glomgold show up, kidnapping Huey, Dewey and Louie, and taking the treasures in the process, even forcing Scrooge to fork over the Green Cheese. Poor triplets. They have already been kidnapped twice, and now, a third time! Meanwhile, Webby hasn’t been kidnapped a single time… huh. Nice way to play with the audience’s expectations on who gets captured. Then Magica shows up, saying that she was the one to bring Scrooge into this adventure in the first place, through the painting she sold him, so that he’d go and chase down these five legendary treasure items, so that she would take them and use them to bring back to life the mighty Count Dracula Duck!

…Wait. Wow, that is one Hell of a complicated plan. So, Magica sold that picture to Scrooge at bargain price, so that he would bring it home, and she completely expected that he’d someday find the secret treasure map hidden in the painting, also fully aware that Scrooge would not resist the envy of spending money to find these treasures, so that she could snatch them from him as soon as she could… which, a) doesn’t explain why she battled him in the Transylvania level, since she would have been perfectly able to flee with the Coin of the Lost Realm, or just let Scrooge have it since she wanted him to gather all five, and b) doesn’t explain how the Hell did Flintheart Glomgold and the Beagle Boys find out about each treasure, and became a threat in some of the levels – in particular, in Transylvania, in the Himalayas, and on the Moon. Unless Glomgold knew about the treasures as well, but how could he? Scrooge had no idea about the treasure map until he found it, once the Beagle Boys tried to steal the painting…. Also, the Beagle Boys were playing ghosts in Transylvania, as if they were helping Magica… could they be actually… and Glomgold, could he actually be helping Magica or… wait a second, none of this makes any sense. Whatever.

"Am I the only one feeling like a oasted duck here?"
"That is nothing compared to the roast we were preparing
for the 'Richest Duck in the World'!"
Magica freezes everyone else, takes the five treasures, kidnaps the triplets, turns the Beagle Boys into pigs, gloats (no incredibly evil deed is complete without a hefty dose of gloating), asks for Scrooge to bring her his Number One Dime if he wants to see his nephews alive again, and leaves. Scrooge and Glomgold decide to team us to take back what they’ve lost – and Scrooge accepts to hand Glomgold the five treasures (and become the second richest duck) if they help each other to save Huey, Dewey and Louie.

On a quick note, I like that we can skip any cutscene, because the one containing this entire scene is long enough for one to take a bathroom break. You can probably guess why I know that.

Ah yes, there's another item to cross off the list.
"Piece of level with stylistic darkness forming silhouettes".

The kappa ducks from African are back!
And they are mysteriously able to swim in lava!
Thus, we get the most difficult level in the whole game, Mount Vesuvius. Its feel like the developers took the hardest part of each previous level and taped all of these parts together for a truly grueling platforming experience. Instant magma boulder death traps! Deadly lava! Breakable chains! Long sections of pogo-jumping on enemies’ heads over deadly lava! Spikes everywhere! Bats! Cameos by Glomgold! All of these combined for a level that will make you beg for mercy. Granted, Glomgold is actually helping, but still… Think of it as the Doctor Wily stage of the new DuckTales. Heck, the original was made by Capcom, this just invites comparisons to Mega Man.

Talking about the original, the NES game’s final level was just a remake of the Transylvania level, minus any diamonds and special zones. Bo-ring. And since we had already been there, we knew which way to go already. This was kind of a disappointment (and the last boss, Dracula Duck, came the Hell out of nowhere). All of these issues were solved for Remastered; that’s awesome. Even the new level’s music is amazing!

"It's been great doing business with you too, ya heartless windbag."
Finally, we get to the boss’s room. Magica soon welcomes them, and asks for the Number One Dime, which Scrooge reveals… only for Glomgold to steal it and run to Magica. They’ve been working together! All of a sudden, the repeated appearances by Scrooge’s rival, and the attack on the Money Bin, it all makes sense; this was all planned! Gee, good thing it let Scrooge discover the treasure map! What, Magica, was the billionaire taking too long to fall into your trap? That’s why the Beagle Boys tried to take away the painting? Gee, so many things make more sense now… I still doubt there’s any explanation for why the Beagle Boys could be on the moon earlier, though…

At least this Dracula Duck is less nekkid than the one in
the original.
Anyway, Magica uses the treasures and summons Dracula Duck! I still have no idea how 5 so wholly different legendary items could help resurrecting a monster… but it does, and so we get our final fight. Dracula behaves much like he did in the original game: He’s floating too high for Scrooge to be able to drill into his head with a simple pogo cane jump. However, he also tosses bats towards Scrooge, which the billionaire can then use to jump higher and smash some vampire cranium. For a creature of evil, it sure is dumb; if it weren’t for these bats, Scrooge wouldn’t stand a chance. Tssk, and then they say that good is dumb. 

Each time Dracula Duck takes a hit, he reappears over Magica’s cauldron, and she uses one of three spells on him; each one makes him indestructible for a moment and he can use attacks that must be avoided at all costs.
Good thing there are no other teeth on this guy!
-The green spell turns Dracula Duck into a dragon that will spit a few fireballs; it stays in the background for that, so it can’t be hit.
-The yellow spell makes Dracula giant, after which it will attack Scrooge with its vampire fangs. Let’s just say that it is a very impressive attack.
-Lastly, the red spell turns Dracula into a huge swarm of bats that will descend upon Scrooge… leaving always only a square of free space for the old duck to protect himself. This is the hardest attack to avoid, because you barely have any time to move towards the safe space!

Halfway through the fight, Dracula will float even higher, so Scrooge needs to pogo-jump on two bats to reach the monster’s head. Still, a few more hits and Dracula is defeated, turning into stone that soon crumbles into dust. Good riddance! Gotta admit, this boss fight was better than the original in every way! The triplets are freed and Scrooge tells them to flee towards Launchpad, while he goes out to retrieve his Number One Dime.

In the original game, after Dracula Duck's defeat, Glomgold and Vulture-Magica just appeared out of nowhere, intending to steal the treasure that was now somehow resting atop a tall column, and Scrooge just had to keep climbing a rope to get to it first. No explanation, not even an actual challenge.

That's not even the tough part.
In Remastered, it’s explained that Glomgold and Magica are fighting over the Dime, and Glomgold grabs on Vulture-Magica to prevent her from getting to the Dime first, slowing her down long enough that Scrooge can get to the top before them. Artisans of their own defeat, they say. Don’t expect it to be easy to beat them to the Dime, though; if you thought the grueling platforming was over, think again. This time, if you don’t jump correctly at the right places, and go to the right spots, you will be beaten by them. Okay, it’s not impossible, but it is difficult. Oh, and when you get the dime? The whole place gets covered in lava that keeps rising! So you need to keep climbing upwards! THAT part is near-impossible. Hell, this is where I got a Game Over most often. It’s extremely hard to reach the top, unless you learn about some shortcuts. These will let you climb faster than the lava; the normal path involves a lot of jumping from dangling chain to dangling chain, with every single chain crumbling down seconds after Scrooge has touched it!

Pictured: Chains breaking shortly after use.
Not pictured: The friggin' rising lava down below!

Soon enough, Scrooge reaches the top, where he’s picked up by Launchpad in the nick of time. As they leave Mount Vesuvius, Scrooge is just happy that he got his Dime back. His nephews remind him that they lost the treasure items, to which Scrooge replies that he’s just happy he got to have such a marvelous adventure with his family. And of course, he got what counts the most: Dream and friends.

The bad guys are arrested, the good guys win,
the true evil, Magica, is still at large though...
But who cares, let's go for ice cream!
Heh! If you’ve beaten the original game, you knew this joke was coming. Anyway, Glomgold and the Beagle Boys get arrested, and Scrooge brings his nephews to the ice cream shop – where he promises to give each of them an ice cream cone. With ice cream, this time! Hah! Ah, scrooge, a miser in every possible way. Hm, wonder if he was visited by three ghosts last Christmas? Apparently not. Roll credits, with the full DuckTales theme song, followed by a piano version of the Moon theme. Yay!

This game. Is. Amazing. An improvement over the original in just about every possible way. The graphics have all been revamped, sprites, backgrounds, everything, though that was to be expected from a modern remake. The music has all been upgraded to orchestral quality, but that was to be expected as well – although you couldn’t expect the odd combinations of instruments and musical genres found in some levels, combinations that still somehow work! Dubstep in the Transylvanian level, it’s still a surprise to me. There’s now one song with dubstep that I like; glory to the wub wub, I guess.

The big challenges were to update the levels and create a cohesive story for the old classic. The levels were updated alright, forcing players to visit most of the areas that weren’t obligatory in the original – and this, by including a little treasure-hunting in some levels. In the original, there were gigantic portions of levels that you could skip, mostly if you were speedrunning; there was, after all, a special ending if you finished the game with 0$ in bank. Many sections were simple bonuses to earn more money or find extra hearts for Scrooge’s life bar. Here, we need to:
-Collect the eight coins in the Amazon;
-Gather the three pieces of scroll in Transylvania;
-Find the pieces of the fuel regulator in the Himalayas;
-And find Fenton and the pieces of the Gizmoduck suit in the alien ship on the Moon.

This does make the levels a lot longer, but makes the player visit just about every section of each level. Adding to this, some layouts have been edited ever so slightly, mostly for a better flow with the story or to prevent the player from getting to the boss before collecting the plot trinkets demanded by the current plot. The toughest part was to create a cohesive story, tying all the locations together and explaining the bosses and villains of the original. On this they managed to do this rather well. Oh, sure, not everything makes sense still (Let’s see you explain how Miss Beakley and the Beagle Boys were on the moon!), but they tried to explain the treasure hunt and everything that happens around it. The final stretch has some fun twists, mostly the revelation that Magica and Glomgold were working together (something that you could guess only if you went through a trail of logic like I did). I also like how it spins a few details of the original game, like saying that the two villains weren’t actually helping each other when trying to reach for the dime. I consider that they’ve done it rather well, although the overabundance of cutscenes (which happen before every level, after every level, usually before a boss, and every time Scrooge finds a plot trinket) doesn’t help much. You can skip them all, yes, but it feels a bit too much sometimes.

Of course, topping the awesome game with an awesome finale...
That was pretty much a requirement.

So, aside from these few issues, the game is great. I heartily recommend it. You can currently buy it on Steam for 14.99$ CAD. If you liked the original, you should like Remastered.