DuckTales - Another classic DOS review by DarkwyndPT

With the return of the most ear-catching cartoon theme song of all times (and the show too) to TV, I decided to take a look at the videogame. No, not the popular NES version but the DOS version instead. I’m talking about DuckTales (WOO HOO!). DuckTales: The Quest for Gold is an action-platform game developed by Incredible Technologies and published by Walt Disney Computer Software. It was originally released in 1990 for Amiga, Atari ST, Apple II, Commodore 64 and DOS.

But first let’s look at the cover, shall we?

“D-D-Danger lurks behind you
There’s a stranger out to find you
What to do? Just grab on to some…”

The cover could perfectly be used on a VHS, DVD case or even a comic book, because it looks like it was directly taken from the show or drawn by Don Rosa or Carl Banks. It depicts Uncle Scrooge and Launchpad McQuack running from a mummy while carrying a pot full of gold and gems. And if you know the show, it’s a typical image from it.

But it’s time to boot this ducker:

The title screen is taken from the cover art and of course it wouldn’t be a DuckTales game without its infamous theme. I swear, I’m hearing it in my head while I’m typing this. WOO HOO!

The intro then shows us Scrooge’s rival, Flintheart Glomgold, barging in Scrooge’s office and challenging him to a contest: whoever amasses the most riches in a month, gains the title of “Duck of the Year” and appears on the cover of Dime Magazine (Disney’s equivalent of Time Magazine, get it?). Wasn’t that in an episode of the show?

Then you choose between three difficulty levels and off you go. You start in Scrooge’s office where you can swim in Scrooge’s money bin (and find rare coins), play in the stock market, buying and selling stocks (I’ll get back to that later on) or you can click on the map on the right.

Yes, you can travel around the world, but only to four different locations that are constantly repeated.

Clicking on the map grants you access to the copy protection in some versions and after passing it, with the help of the manual, you can choose between several locations around the world to travel. Now you must be thinking that this game has lots of levels in it because of all the locations, right? Wrong! It has only four different stages:
  • A mountain stage, where you control Scrooge’s three nephews (Huey, Dewey and Louie) and with a climbing rope, you need to get to the top of the mountain to reclaim the treasure while avoiding enemies and falling rocks. You only get three opportunities (one for each nephew).
  • A jungle stage, where you again control the nephews, but this time you travel from left to right while jumping on the tree branches, swinging on vines and avoiding dangerous animals. Easily the hardest stage in the game.
  • A photograph stage, where you take control of Webby and take photographs of animals that pop up. Photographs of rare animals are more valuable. Because there aren’t any enemies or obstacles, it’s the easiest stage, but it has a time limit.
  • And a labyrinth stage, where you take control of Scrooge, the nephews and Webby, all at once, and you need to travel across a labyrinth while avoiding pits and mummies before your torch burns out. Luckily you have a map at the bottom of the screen to help you out.

But before starting any of the above, you need to travel to these locations. Enter a flying stage, where you take control of Launchpad’s plane and fly it from left to right without crashing to the ground and other obstacles. If that happens, you lose time and money. In some cases, you get to race against Glomgold and if he finishes the stage first, he gets the treasure.

In case you’re wondering, you’re the pink dot. The yellow dot is where the treasure is and the brown dot is a mummy, who’s looking for you.

Apparently, you can find in some stages Bombastium, which can be used by Gyro Gearloose to invent a teleporter, thus bypassing the flying stage, but I haven’t found it so far. Also, for every stage that you finish successfully, that particular location on the map turns green and can’t be played again. Consequently, every treasure found by Glomgold turns a location red and can’t be accessed either.

During the 30 days period, you can return to the office for more money-swimming or to check your investments in the stock market. While I get the money-swimming part (it’s a staple of the character), the stock market minigame baffles me. I mean, yes in the comics and show, Scrooge is depicted as a shrewd businessman but the main focus of the show was always adventure, exploration and treasure hunting. Buying and selling stocks isn’t what I call exciting and this game was supposedly targeted for younger players. Did anyone actually played the stock market minigame back in the day?

How is this physically possible?

Anyway, back to the map. You can also travel to the Island of Macaroon where a giant weighing scale waits to weight all the gold you and Glomgold have amassed so far. If you go there before the end of the 30th day, it weighs your current gold and keeps it until the end of the month. When you reach the end of the month, you’ll be automatically transported there to weigh all the gold and determine the winner. And if Scrooge has more gold than Glomgold, you win the game.

Like always, the Junior Woodchuck Guide is a godsend.

And that’s the entire gameplay! No special stages nor anything. There’s practically no difference whatsoever between identical stages in different locations, just very small variations. The graphics are colourful but the animation looks very stiff. And the controls, even with a gamepad, aren’t very responsive. The music is OK (nowhere near as good as in the NES version) but the sound effects are very limited. While I found the easiest difficulty setting not much of a challenge, the other difficulty settings posed a real challenge, but with only 4 different stages repeated throughout the game, it gets boring in no time.

“When it’s seems they’re headed for the final curtain
Bold deduction never fails, that’s for certain
The worst of messes become successes!”

The Amiga version not only has better graphics and sound effects, it also has digitized samples taken directly from the show. But the controls are a bit over-sensitive, especially during the flying stage.

In conclusion, this game pales in comparison with the NES version. While it has a few funny visual jokes here and there (like every time you crash the plane), in overall it isn’t a great game, despite having some cool cameos from the show. However if you’re a DuckTales fan, you might want to give it a shot by clicking here and enjoy it in your own browser.

Well, do you like DuckTales? What are your favorite episodes? Tell me on the comments below and while you’re at it, tell me of you think of the new show. See you guys around and keep on playing. WOO HOO!

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