A sea monster ate my ice cream
(Note: This article is part of the Disney Afternoon Collection review set, in which all games included in the package, as well as the package itself, get a review of their own.)
In 1993, Capcom released a sequel to the first licensed game they ever developed with DuckTales 2. Similar to the first title, Scrooge once again travels the globe in search for treasure, but this time because his nephew Huey showed him a piece of what appears to be a treasure map. The journey then takes the rich mallard to the Niagara Falls, a capsized pirate ship in the Bermuda Triangle, the Egyptian pyramids, a Scottish castle, and the lost continent of Mu.
Some Capcom team members returned to work on this game, including the designer Keiji Inafune (稲船敬二) and producer Tokuro Fujiwara (藤原得郎), design-wise, Scrooge looks identical to the way he looked in the first title from 1989. The enemies and stages, however, have been upgraded and are a whole lot more colorful and detailed. Sadly, while the game looks great, the developers also made some awkward decisions with DuckTales 2.
For starters, the game is a bit heavy on the dialog, which wouldn’t be a bad thing if more text would be displayed on-screen at once or if it were skippable for those replaying the adventure. Reading dialogs would also be more enjoyable if the characters would more often stick closer to the source material. In DuckTales 2, Gyro and Launchpad, for example, refer to the protagonist as Uncle Scrooge, which they don’t do in the show, the comics, or the previous game; they call him Mr. McDuck because they are not related to him. And the cave duck Bubba talks in common English here, even though he doesn’t know how to do that in the cartoon (but maybe that change is for the better). You might think that these are little nitpicks, but children can immediately tell the difference.
The most out-of-character move, however, is the upgrade store at the end of each level. Scrooge McDuck is known to be a stingy penny-pincher who always emphasizes the importance of being prudent. He hates spending money to such an over-the-top degree that he doesn’t even buy newspapers but instead looks for already read issues people left behind in the city park. Even when he absolutely has no choice but to pay for something, he tries to lower the price through bargaining. The original DuckTales video game (1989) even incorporates his stringy nature by rewarding players who collect $ 10,000,000 by the end of the game. But in this sequel, so long as Scrooge doesn’t have $ 0 in his money bin, it won’t make a difference. He is even happy to buy upgrades. Why were the characters changed like this? Where did the attention to detail go?
Luckily, the music in DuckTales 2 is still on point, thanks to the marvellous compositions by Minae Fujii (藤井美苗, now Minae Saito, 斎藤美苗). The theme to the Bermuda or the Niagara Falls stage as well as the ending theme in particular are quite catchy. And just like in the predecessor, DuckTales 2, has three different endings, depending on whether or not Scrooge found all treasures and on whether or not he has any money left by the end.
The framerate in this title is a big issue. As mentioned in The Disney Afternoon Collection review, NTSC television sets used to run at around 29.97 frames per second (fps) while PAL and SECAM ran at 25 fps. Therefore, it makes sense that all games in this bundle run at around 30 fps while the hub menu uses 60 fps, common for games that came out in the 2010s. Now, the predicament that players of DuckTales 2 see themselves in is similar to someone watching a 30 fps video of a game that runs at 60 fps: When Scrooge or his opponents get hit, they don’t blink like they should, but completely disappear for a while. (For reference try watching video game footage on YouTube, twitch, Nico Nico or other sites.) This will probably lead to some cheap hits and is quite aggravating during boss fights, especially since DuckTales 2 is the only title in The Disney Afternoon Collection that has this issue. However, this is not to say that the game is magically unplaybale, because those who anticipate enemy movement will be able to deal with this.
Those players who were absolutely enamored with the Transylvania stage in the first DuckTales will love the level design in this sequel where every single stage is build a like maze and some even have puzzle rooms that lead to hidden treasures. Sadly, some areas are locked away until Scrooge finds Gyro in three of the five stages to let him upgrade his cane. The billionaire duck can then return an infinite amount of times to already beaten stages to collect more money while searching for the hidden pieces of the treasure map. Unfortunately the backtracking DuckTales 2 is a bit of a “fun dampener”, which at times feels like unnecessary padding.
With that said the game mechanics themselves feel much more refined this time around and controlling Scrooge feels a lot better than before. The game even tries to showcase this newly found agility in some sections where the duck has to jump and swing his cane at the same to break blocks. Even the boss fights were rethought, so they no longer play like copies of one another. My only complaint there is the bout against Golem Duck on the Mu stage. That boss can only be hit after Scrooge hurls rocks at him that the creature first has to knock down from the ceiling. When and if he decides to do so, however, is completely random, so players can sometimes spend around what seems like a minute for him to do just that. Even worse is that the location of where these rocks will fall to isn’t telegraphed causing a couple of cheap hits.
Overall it seems that the developers didn’t want to give this title as much love and attention as the first DuckTales. This might have been, because, by the time this came out the Super Famicom/SNES was going in full steam, so the prospects of DuckTales 2 selling well were limited. It isn’t a bad game, however, and has some great ideas that certainly could have done with a bit more dedication. Other elements should have just been right out stripped away; getting the upgrades from Gyro, as an example, is just unnecessary padding to give the illusion of additional content. It could and should have been left out entirely. The pyramid, where several rooms just lead back to places just visited by the player also just feel tedious. If it were sold individually, I’d tell people to give DuckTales 2 a pass, but since this title is included as part of The Disney Afternoon Collection together with five other games on the PlayStation 4, the Xbox One, and Steam, it’s a great way to play something that people might have missed the first time around. The bundle itself costs U.S. $ 19.99 or your regional equivalent.
Thank you for reading my article. If you like, please do feel free to leave a comment. There’s no need to register or login. Also, all screenshots shown here were taken by me during my playthrough. You can also follow my reviews on Steam: http://store.steampowered.com/curator/8839524-Gaos-Corner/ Have a nice day.
Links to the other Disney Afternoon Reviews
- Gao Li Reviews The Disney Afternoon Collection
- Gao Li Reviews DuckTales
- Gao Li Reviews Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers
- Gao Li Reviews TaleSpin
- Gao Li Reviews Darkwing Duck
- Gao Li Reviews Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers 2