REVIEW: DuckTales, Chip ‘n Dale return in classic game collection

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  • reviewed on PlayStation 4 / rated E10+ / $19.99 / released April 2017
  • FINAL: You WANT this game. 4 out of 5 stars

25 years ago, kids’ weekday afternoons were ruled by cartoon hits like “DuckTales” and “Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers.” Often featuring Disney characters in all-new roles (like turning Baloo from “The Jungle Book” into a cargo pilot), the “Disney Afternoon” shows naturally spawned video game adaptations. However, unlike many licensed tie-ins, these games from the late 80s/early 90s are actually well-remembered today, which is why the assortment is ripe for a re-release here in 2017.

In Capcom’s “The Disney Afternoon Collection,” you get six games from the Nintendo Entertainment System era: “DuckTales,” “DuckTales 2,” “Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers,” “Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers 2,” “TaleSpin,” and “Darkwing Duck.” These are all faithful reproductions, maintaining the original pixel designs while clarifying and updating for high-definition televisions.

If you would rather relive your nostalgia inside the tube TVs of time past, the “Collection” lets you turn on filters to replicate that look. You can also choose between a “native” display or a larger view that fills your screen, at the cost of a slight blurriness. All of this is framed inside a purposefully ghastly “Disney Afternoon” design aesthetic of floating triangles and spirals. It looks like a birthday cake topping factory exploded… which is pretty much exactly what the “Afternoon” looked like back then.

The six games represent the predominant genre of the era very well: side-scrolling platform-jumping games where you collect items and bop (or avoid) enemies. “Chip ‘n Dale” stands out here due to being a co-operative two-player game, but “TaleSpin” is the real wild card. “TaleSpin” is a light shoot ’em up where you fly Baloo’s plane through airborne mazes and sky pirate fleets. Baloo’s adventure is a nice break from the other five gravity-based adventures, but it’s a chore until you unlock the plane’s rapid fire ability.

The most amazing addition to the “Collection” – and it helps make “TaleSpin” bearable – is the “rewind” button that acts like an instant undo. Did Uncle Scrooge miss a jump or get attacked by an angry snake? Hit rewind and try it again. Old video games like these can sometimes feel far too difficult and exacting when compared to modern releases, so the rewind feature can put things back in reach (especially if your arcade reflexes have slowed down a bit since 1989.)

And here’s another outstanding feature: you can watch replays from other players. “Disney Afternoon Collection” has a couple of bonus modes where you compete against the clock. If you’re stuck on a particular boss fight – or if you simply don’t believe somebody can beat “DuckTales” in under eight minutes – you can browse replays on the leaderboard and get yourself educated.

At the bottom of it all, however, is the fact that these are 25-year-old video games, and they still contain all of that ancient goofiness that modern gaming has long since improved or moved past. The rewind button and easy-view replays help, but you’ll still hit that frustrating flakiness commonly found in gaming’s formative years.

“The Disney Afternoon Collection” includes an onscreen archive of design documents, artwork and scans of original boxes. This museum is a great bonus for nostalgia buffs and gaming historians, and it underscores the care that went into putting together this “Collection.” It doesn’t have any video pieces, however, which means you’re stuck trawling YouTube for radical old TV ads like this one:

Not every video game can stand the test of time, but the combination of Capcom’s legendary design and Disney’s legendary charm landed (most of) these games in hall-of-fame status. “The Disney Afternoon Collection” is no slapdash re-release; it’s a loving presentation of classic games, upgraded with modern features that add even more value.

“The Disney Afternoon Collection” is available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. This review based on product supplied by the publisher. Images courtesy CAPCOM.