Thursday, March 28, 2024

DuckTales (Game Boy, 1990)


Another classic from the Game Boy Player's Guide that I wanted to check out for a long time. The six-game Capcom/Disney series on NES was pretty awesome and something I'd really like to do more with. This, however, is probably the only Game Boy port I'll play from that set, due to it being in the guide and me trying to check out everything from it. Duck Tales! Woo-ooh!

As a kid, I remember this game being one of the less-appealing ones in the guide. Nothing really jumped out at me as interesting, and it looked a bit like a Mario clone. However, the subject matter was a show I really liked, and that kept this game on my radar.

The title screen of the game is something people probably saw a LOT of. This is one of those "run out of lives and go back to the beginning" games. Luckily the game is on the easy side, so as a kid I probably would have done fine with it. If you're going to send people back to the beginning on a game over, the least you can do is make the game a bit easier. Though personally I'd rather it be a bit challenging and have unlimited continues, which is what most great games of this era did.

We get a stage select right off the bat. As a kid, I loved stage selects solely because there was a lot less chance of getting stuck in a game. Also considering most of my gaming sessions were short / at friend's houses / at store kiosks / etc, stage selects allowed me to see a lot more of a game in a short span of time.

This is...pretty much just like the NES version. Pogo off of enemy heads, collect loot to raise your $ score, get a better ending if you get more money.

I'll say this though, this game is actually easier to control than the NES version. Pogoing requires only pressing B in midair, not Down+B. My sympathies to anyone who played the NES version without an instruction manual and had no idea you could pogo.

Anything you have to press Up to grab onto is an issue. For whatever reason the collision detection is spotty on up-grabs. This is a problem when you're over a pit.

Like right here, where Launchpad gives you a lift over a gap. Not the time when you want the controls to fail you.

Another issue is the music. The music is...not good. It seems like they just ported the NES version's music straight over without compensating for the Game Boy's sound channels. So what you get is a noisy mishmash at times, and every time any sound effects are triggered, several music channels cut out.

This statue could be cheesed/skipped in the NES version, but not here. It's the bane of my existence, and requires you to make sure you get pretty much EVERY gem in the level up to this point. Had to redo the first level because I simply didn't have quite enough (was $28k short) and it would have been a lot of trouble to backtrack.

Launchpad appears about halfway through each level to give you the option to return to the stage select. However, considering you have to do the entire game on one set of lives, there's very little reason to exit out of a stage that's half-completed. Except for this stage, where you might end up stuck due to the money statue.

Also, Launchpad functions as a halfway checkpoint for every level which is nice.

First boss is the jumping Incan Statue. I like how this thing is also a duck.

The next stage is one I'm really glad I have a map for, because it's full of teleport mirrors that warp you around the stage. I was lost for a while here in the NES version.

This level is generally kind of disorganized, considering how much use they mined out of it. Like there are parts where you have to go through a hidden wall or climb over things that look like the sides of the room.

The boss is this sorceress lady who turns into some sort of buzzard. This would probably make sense if I could remember the show a bit better.

The African Mines requires a key from Transylvania to get into. Always found this a little odd. However, this isn't an open world Metroidvania, so it isn't like this is a big expedition to figure out.

For some reason the guide refers to the mines as "Underground". This is also the end of their coverage. Come on, they couldn't do two more pages to cover Himalayas and The Moon? Was it THAT important to cover Revenge of the Gator?

I wonder if this is the mine in Niger that the people coup'd from the French government a few months ago. "Zis is OUR uranium!" said the French government when reached for comment.

Third boss is... alright I definitely don't recognize this dude from the show.

He proceeds to go all Armored Armadillo and roll around the room. However he alternates which side he zips around, so once that's figured out, the fight is easy.

Himalayas is my favorite level, for sure. It's pretty basic and to the point, and has a snow/ice theme. You can't pogo on snow, which puts a new spin on things (you CAN pogo off of enemies in snow).

Next we have HOCKEY DUCKS attacking on ice. Is this a reference to The Mighty Ducks? Hard to say. That movie was a Disney property, as this is. However that movie was in 1992 so this game pre-dates it...slightly.

While Scrooge cruises along on this Mega Man style platform, this would be a good time to mention that the game doesn't seem to have any way to increase your health like the NES version does. That or I completely missed it, because I was stuck at 3 health for the entire game.

Here's THE YETI.

Moments after I won this fight, he got back up and started swinging his own head at me. Wait, wrong game.

Last stage is The Moon. For the longest time I thought the music from this stage was Star Man's theme from Mega Man 5. Heard it in various Youtube videos and whatnot. Now I hear it here and I'm like "whoa"

Unfortunately the Game Boy version of this stage has really mangled music. It can't handle the sound channels that this (great) track requires.

This stage involves infiltrating a UFO and battling... whatever the hell these things are.


Eventually this robot shows up and blasts through a bunch of rock so you can get to the boss:

...a giant, New York sized rat. One of the easiest bosses since it gives you these platforms to hang out on and line up pogo shots.

The sixth and final "stage" is basically half of Transylvania, which they're repeating (again) so you can track down.... Dracura Duck.

Capcom did this "reuse a stage as the final stage" thing in Mega Man X2 as well. So if someone ever asks you "What do Mega Man X2 and DuckTales the game have in common?" you'll know the answer. However I doubt anyone will ask you this.

Dracula Duck is the game's toughest boss, since you have to pogo off of his bat minions to reach him and they're often too high to reach. The game's lack of continues really becomes apparent here, and I feel for anyone who got to this point and didn't win.

There's one final challenge, required to get the good ending: Outrun Flintheart Glomgold, Scrooge's nemesis. He's like the Gungho to Scrooge's Strago.

This requires climbing a rope really quick and pogoing this box before he gets to it. As far as final escape challenges from this era go, it's no Metroid.

Got what I think is the best ending, since my money count was pretty high and I found all the optional stuff.

What? You three didn't do SHITE!

He's rich in money, but more importantly, he's rich in friends.

One last note for this game: The invincibility theme is pretty good. Not so much on the Game Boy with the sound channel issues, but on the NES you can hear it well. Lot of good invincibility themes in this era of gaming. ...that said, this one gets pretty old pretty quick.

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