For a kid born in the early 80s, there were no better cartoons than the Disney Afternoon: Chip N’ Dale: Rescue Rangers, TaleSpin, Adventures of the Gummi Bears, Darkwing Duck, Goof Troop, and Gargoyles. My favorite was DuckTales. I adored Uncle Scrooge, Huey, Dewey, Louie, Mrs. Beakley, Webby, and the hapless pilot Launchpad McQuack. I liked the villains like Magica de Spell and the Beagle Boys. I could sing the entire theme song word for word. Every day after school you could find me parked in front of the television, giggling at the silly jokes and cheering on their madcap adventures through Duckburg and beyond (there was even an episode that retold the story of Homer’s Odyssey).
In the late 80s and early 90s, the Disney Afternoon moved into the world of video games. The first show to make the transition was DuckTales by Capcom. It was released in 1989 and was created by many of the same people responsible for the Mega Man games, including producer Tokuro Fukiwara, programmer Nobuyuki Matsushima and artists Keiji Inafuna and Naoya Tomita.
The game was a simple platformer. Players controlled Uncle Scrooge on his quest around the world (and outer space) to collect treasure. The miserly duck used his cane as his primary weapon and tool. He could attack enemies with it, break things with it, and even bounce on it. As Scrooge, the player travelled to the Amazon, the Himalayas, Africa, Transylvania and even the Moon. There was not a specific level order that players had to follow. Instead, they could pick where they wanted to go. Each level had a boss fight, with series favorites Flintheart Glomgold and Magica DeSpell serving as the obstacles between Scrooge and the final treasure. The game’s ending varied depending things like how much money players had collected.
The game was first released for the NES and later moved to the Gameboy. It achieved a high degree of commercial and critical success (the later being particularly notable for a video game using licensed characters). It regularly makes lists of the best games ever created for the NES. It even spawned a re-make, the 2013 title DuckTales: Remastered, which featured upgraded graphics and new areas.
DuckTales wasn’t a groundbreaking game, but it was a ton of fun to play. It was an exciting chance for a kid like me, all jacked up on sugary cereal, Pop Tarts, and Fruit Roll Ups, to dive into one of his favorite worlds and be a part of the adventure.