He is the terror that flaps in the night. He is the metal key in the sardine can of justice. He is…Darkwing Duck!
Another classic of the Disney Afternoon, Darkwing Duck premiered on the Disney channel in 1991, before going into weekday syndication and becoming a part of ABC’s Saturday morning cartoons. It featured Drake Mallard (a clever reference to The Shadow’s alter ego Kent Allard), whose alter ego was masked crime fighter Darkwing Duck. In hero form, Darkwing defended the city of St. Canard from the forces of evil. He was assisted in his work by daughter Gosalyn and his friend Launchpad McQuack (who also featured in DuckTales). He faced off against various villains, characters like Megavolt, Quackerjack, and members of F.O.W.L. (the Fiendish Organization for World Larceny).
In the Darkwing Duck video game, created by Capcom and released in June of 1992, F.O.W.L. serve as the primary antagonists, though they have hired a number of Darkwing’s greatest enemies to help their nefarious cause. Quackerjack, Wolfduck, The Liquidator, Moliarty, Megavolt, and Bushroot serve as the bosses for the first six levels of the game. The game’s final battle was against Steelbeak, F.O.W.L.’s primary agent.
Like the DuckTales and Chip n’ Dale: Rescue Ranger video games, Darkwing Duck was a platformer. As Darkwing, players were equipped with a gas gun to defeat enemies, collecting various types of weaponized gas as the game progressed. Darkwing could also defend himself from certain attacks by using his cape as a shield.
Side characters from the cartoon appear throughout the game. Gosalyn helps Darkwing collect items in the game’s first bonus round, J. Gander Hooter (the head of S.H.U.S.H., the super secret spy agency that opposes F.O.W.L.) is featured at the beginning of the game when he describes Darkwing’s mission and at the end when he congratulate him on his success. Launchpad Mcquack appears before each level, providing Darkwing with helpful information.
The game was developed by slightly altering the engine behind the Mega Man 5 game. Players familiar with the Mega Man series will note several similarities, such as selecting your weapon (or gas type) from a subscreen, and the fact that the character drops from the sky at the beginning of each level. A slightly stripped down version of the game was released for the Gameboy system a year after the original NES version was released.
Like the cartoon, the video game embraced and was rooted in pulp and comic book cliches. It’s what made the characters and stories so brilliant. Players (or viewers, as the case me be) could laugh at the genre tropes, even as they enjoyed the action.
Now, let’s get dangerous…