A Slow Trip Down Memory Lane
In March, to the cheers of retro gamers, Capcom made the announcement of The Disney Afternoon Collection. This collection bundles 6 noteworthy, classic NES titles from the late 80’s and early 90’s. Although this collection brings back a warm, fuzzy feeling of childhood memories and nostalgia for gamers who originally played on the NES, the games themselves do not transition well into the modern generation of console hardware. And even though it is over 25 years later, several graphical hiccups impacted the gameplay experience.
The Disney Afternoon Collection includes 6 titles straight from the NES and 1990’s after school television: Ducktales, Ducktales 2, Rescue Rangers, Rescue Rangers 2, Talespin, and Darkwing Duck. To start off, I only have played 3 of these titles in my younger days, and it shows when I played them again. I wasn’t very good at all! I found myself enjoying the Rescue Rangers and Ducktales titles a lot more than Talespin and Darkwing Duck, because of gameplay and familiarity of controls. Some games performed differently and aged a lot better after the last few decades. Let’s break it down.
The developer, Digital Eclipse, didn’t simply build an emulator for these games to run on current gen consoles. They added several features to keep it interesting and worth the $20 price tag. First of all, the soundtrack is what really stands out in these titles. They seem to have enhanced sound quality, and the 8-bit tunes are just really enjoyable to listen to, from the intro sequence for the collection to the world famous Moon level in Ducktales. You can find tracks from each game available for listening outside their respective game in the collection’s soundtrack. You are also able to view drawings, character models, box art, and advertisements in the Artwork gallery. Both of these are a nice extra touch to really bring value to the collection, and do not have to be unlocked through gameplay or any other method. Also, with each game, you are able to pick the screen ratio that best suits you. There’s Original, Wide, and Full screen options, based on the user’s preference. Personally, I liked Wide mode along with a special border with artwork of the game (which can be turned on or off as well). The resolution has been up scaled up to high definition, so you don’t get that “grainy” look to your games on your big screen; just a clear, crisp, colorful picture. Don’t worry if you’re not used to these classic games either. The collection has a rewind feature, where if you get hurt, lose against a boss, or fall down a hole, you are able to instantly rewind with the click of a button to the point you feel you need to. There doesn’t seem to be any limitations to this feature, and it was almost a necessity to have for the more challenging games. And lastly, and possibly the most enticing feature, there are new Time Trial and Bass Rush modes. For each game, you are able to challenge yourself by fighting bosses back to back in the shortest time possible. You are also able to time yourself in beating the entire game. Both of these features have worldwide and friends list leader boards, so you can see where you place. You are also able to view all of the videos linked to these users and watch in amazement of the skill of players across the globe. Both of these new modes disable the rewind feature for obvious reasons. The screen is also locked to Original mode, displaying the time and progress off to the side. Saving and loading is also a thing for the standard game mode, as expected.
Rescue Rangers 1 and 2
The first game in the collection, along with the first Ducktales, was a game that I actually had in my own collection growing up. Rescue Rangers brings a lot of good memories back, particular since I remember playing this with my sister. Although I haven’t used the feature, Rescue Rangers brings co-op play back into this collection, meaning two players can team up as Chip and Dale to conquer levels and take down the main enemy of the cartoon show, Fat Cat. Players find themselves in a side-scrolling platformer, taking down enemies by throwing blocks, apples, and other various objects. Several of the levels also feature boss fights that bring challenge and variation to how you play the game. The game features a “world” map, where you travel to various locations to find your kidnapped friend, Gadget. You can pick the direction in which you travel in only one section, and can even skip a level if you wanted to. Overall, the game play is quick and fun; however, Rescue Rangers shares the same issues as several of the other games in the collection: whenever there are more than 2-3 sprites or a lot going on on the screen, there is noticeable slow down and freezing of the game. This even caused me to lose health several times throughout my journey. Also, since this collection is on the Xbox, the controller’s buttons just do not have the same response and clickability as the NES controller, so I would find myself missing jumps or getting hurt by an enemy. The D-Pad was also an issue at times with reaction and moving characters back and forth.
This sequel brings back a lot of the same gameplay and formula that the first title created. It still feels fast and the platforming is great. There is no map to travel between levels, and the game adds more narrative in between, intertwining to tell a story. You are still chasing Fat Cat, who has escaped prison, and must stop him from blowing up a bomb. The game adds in different bosses, and each has their own challenge and strategy to defeat. The same issues followed from the first game, mainly due to the controller buttons and slow downs. I slightly enjoyed playing this game more and even hope to go back for the Time Trial challenge.
Ducktales 1 and 2
Ducktales follows the adventures of Scrooge McDuck as he travels to various locations (including the moon) for treasure and riches. You are able to pick the levels you want in any order you’d like. Every level features a challenging boss battle, rewarding the Scrooge McDuck with a special treasure worth a lot of money. You traverse each level by using Scrooge’s handy cane, hopping on top of enemies like a pogo stick to defeat them. Every level has a special path or puzzle to solve in order to progress through the level. In the end, your treasure is taken, and you have to recover it from the final boss.
Ducktales 2 follows the same formula; only this time you’re able to replay levels as you see fit to collect even more treasure. You also gain new abilities within levels, such as pulling heavy blocks and breaking harder objects with your cane bounce. You often see an area you can’t access within a level, and, after gaining a new ability, you can replay the level in hopes of accessing that hidden area. This game also brings use to the money that you receive after completing the level. You can purchase extra lives, heart pieces, treasure map pieces, continues, etc. After collecting the 4 treasure map pieces hidden in the game, you unlock a secret ending.
Out of the entire collection, I found Talespin to be the least imaginative and enjoyable, mainly due to lack of story and difficult gameplay. Not many people may know, but Talespin is a spin-off of the Jungle Book series. You play as Baloo the Bear, who flies a plane to find cargo and deliver them for money. There is no true story; Baloo is simply assigned new cargo deliveries in various locations. That’s all there is for a narrative. What’s unique about this game is that it’s a sky shooter. You fly around the screen, shoot enemies, and pick up cargo. Each level that you play does have unique sequences and challenges, and you have to maneuver carefully with your plane to shoot away enemies an avoid their shots. It is a sidescroller, but you have the ability to flip your plane upside down to shoot the other way, and also change the direction of the screen scrolling. This is what I struggled with most. As with the other games, the new controller buttons do not respond as well as they originally did with the NES, and can make flipping the pain more difficult than it should be. This becomes especially dangerous in boss battles where victory is required to progress. Good reactions and reflexes are a must for these fights, but the problems with button presses makes all that irrelevant. Talespin also features a neat system of upgrading your craft with the money you receive after each mission. You’re able to increase speed, hull strength, and firing rate to your liking.
Never having played this game before, I thoroughly enjoyed it. You can definitely tell that this is a Capcom game, as it takes a lot from the successful formula from the Mega Man series and incorporates it into its own formula. You play as Darkwing Duck, hero and savior to the city of St. Canard. You are given missions from the mayor of the city, and can travel around as you wish to stop the bad guys from succeeding in their evil plans. Unlike some of the other platformers in the collection, you’re able to grab onto platforms and fall through floors. This can be a little annoying, as I found myself stuck in some places and grabbing onto ledges when I didn’t want to. Your primary weapon is a gas gun that can change its “special” projectile when you pick up certain power ups. There is a heavy gas that’s falls to the ground and then shoots outward to attack an enemy, an arrow gas that shoots a large projectile at the enemy, and a thunder gas that shoots an electrical projectile. These do massive damage to enemies and bosses alike but requires rare special gas to use. There is a little narrative that involves Darkwing Duck searching for the Steel Beak, the crime boss of the city. Ultimately, you’ll come face to face with him in a final showdown.
The Disney Afternoon Collection is a great compilation of 6 classic NES games. With all of the new features like leader boards, soundtracks, and artwork, it’s definitely worth the $20 price tag. However, as someone who grew up with these games, I don’t see a new generation of gamers getting a lot of satisfaction from playing these retro style games. The controls just don’t transition to current gen hardware, and they do feel dated. The glitches and slow downs don’t do them any favor either. This collection is fun, don’t get me wrong, but simply may not be for everyone.
- Great Nostalgia
- Glitchy After 25 Years