Growing up in the early 90’s, it used to be an after school ritual to come home and watch The Disney Afternoon block including Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, DuckTales and my personal favourite, Darkwing Duck. While also developing games like Mega Man and Bionic Commando, Capcom also had the license to many Disney properties, including shows from The Disney Afternoon block. With the release of The Disney Afternoon Collection, many more people will get the chance to experience these games, some of which for the first time after we’d thought they’d never be printed again. Licensed games often get a bad rap for not being that good, but these are the exceptions to the rule. Here’s a little about each game included in this collection and my take on them:
In DuckTales, you take the role of Scrooge McDuck as he hunts for treasure across various locations around the world…..and on the moon, because why not? Ducktales is one of the best platform action games on the NES and is the game that holds up best in this collection. Similar to Mega Man, each of the game’s 5 stages can be tackled in any order and depending on the amount of treasure you collect by the end can trigger one of 3 different endings. With tight platforming, memorable enemies and bosses and a rad soundtrack, Ducktales is just as fantastic now as it was back in 1989.
Ducktales 2 once again throws you into the boots of Scrooge McDuck as he travels to real world locations hunting for treasure, but also for map pieces leading to the lost treasure of McDuck. It preserves the same great non-linear action platforming that made the first game shine, but also throws in collectable upgrades into the mix. Similar to the original Ducktales, there are 3 different endings, depending on if you find the map pieces. While I don’t think it’s level design is as good as the first game’s I do think it’s a good game in it’s own right with more intricate environments and better enemy variety. It also holds up quite well!
While Darkwing Duck was my favourite Disney Afternoon show, it’s not my favourite Capcom Disney title (though it’s grown on me over the years). You take control of Darkwing Duck as he tries to stop Steelbeak and the members of F.O.W.L. from taking over the city. The game itself is very much inspired by Mega Man, from the platforming mixed with gunplay to the ability to choose the level order.
Similar to Ducktales 2, the enemy variety and level designs are well done but what separates Darkwing Duck from Mega Man is the weapon variety. Darkwing has a gas gun that shoots pellets similar to the Mega Buster, but the weapon damage is quite low, sometimes even taking 6-7 shots to kill standard enemies. You do have the option to find and use more powerful gas weapons, but you can only carry one at a time and they have very limited usage, meaning it’s better to save them for the boss enemies.
Overall, I think that Darkwing Duck is a fine game that does have a lot to like and it’s certainly grown on me over the years. It holds up fine and is definitely worth a playthrough.
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is my personal favourite game in this collection and it’s probably the one I’m most nostalgic for. As Chip or Dale, you are tasked with finding a missing kitty by the name of Mandy, before crossing paths with the infamous Fat Cat. The level design is pulled from locations found in the TV series and it’s level selection is similar to Bionic Commando’s. You choose the path to Fat Cat’s lair and you can bypass entire levels.
While it doesn’t have the same tight platforming that Ducktales has, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is one of the first NES games with 2-player simultaneous platforming. If you have a buddy, you can play as Chip and Dale for some chaotic action platforming. Similar to New Super Mario Bros multiplayer, you can pick up your team mate and throw them, which can result in you cursing out your teammate.
Whether you play alone or with a friend, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is still a tonne of fun to play to this day! It may be one of the shorter games in this collection, but it’s the most friendly game for new players, while still being fun on your 20th playthrough.
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers 2
Rescue Rangers 2 takes the same great co-op action from the first game and tightens up the mechanics and level design. As Chip and Dale, you are tasked with trying to stop Fat Cat from detonating explosives in the city. It has gorgeous visuals in comparison to other NES titles but that comes at the cost of having a linear story path rather than the original’s non-linear one. The game has lots of memorable bosses with their own unique mechanics and the music is better this time around.
Rescue Rangers 2 was one of the last games ever released on the NES, releasing in January of 1994, the same year Donkey Kong Country and Super Metroid (the PS1 released a year later). As such, it’s quite a sought after cartridge so as a result, most people haven’t had a chance to try it. While I don’t think it’s as good as the original, Rescue Rangers 2 is a lot of fun, especially for newer players or in co-op.
Talespin is probably the weakest entry in this collection and feels a bit out of place, simply because it’s wildly different from the other titles. You play as Baloo as he delivers packages in his plane while also fighting off Don Karnage’s air pirates. The game is a side-scrolling shmup with the ability to reverse the scrolling by the press of a button (which also flips your plane upside down). While this can be helpful in picking up missed items and shooting enemies coming from behind, I found more often than not that it would put me in a sticky situation that would result in generally getting hit. I also found the controls a bit stiff, constantly missing shots that an extra step would help with.
Talespin isn’t without it’s merits though, I did enjoy the upgrade system that allowed you to purchase new upgrades for Baloo’s ship in between levels. The soundtrack is pretty good and the levels look pretty cool overall, especially the 3rd level which takes place during a lightning storm. I think Talespin is still worth trying but I don’t think it’s aged as well as I would have hoped.
One big mechanic that has been introduced in The Disney Afternoon Collection is the “Rewind” feature. At any time, you are able to hold down the L1 button and rewind as far back as you want, allowing you to retry from any point in order to make these games a bit more forgiving. It’s a great tool for new and casual players as these games are really hard for those who didn’t grow up with them.
Like the Mega Man: Legacy Collection, you are able to customise the game’s look using filters, altering aspect ratio and adding or removing a game specific border. You can enable a “TV” filter that simulates viewing on a SD television or “Monitor” which allows you to simulate the look of a CRT monitor. You can also play the games at their native aspect ratio, stretched 4:3 and stretched 16:9. Providing these options is a welcome addition, as you are able to customise the visual experience based on your preferences.
Visually, all of the games hold up very well, with DuckTales 2 and Rescue Rangers 2 being standouts since they were released later in the NES lifecycle. Since these are meant to be 1:1 replications, slowdown in certain areas as well as flickering is present across most of the titles. While this may be a turnoff for new players, this leads to the authenticity of these ports and helps preserve the original versions.
The one constant across all 6 of these titles is their good chiptune soundtracks. While only a few of the game’s songs were lifted from the shows they were based off, the music certainly adds to feeling like you’re in the world they are based off of. While not every song is a hit, the music in each of these titles is as distinct and as memorable as the levels themselves and you’ll be surprised to find yourself humming them long after you’ve put the controller down. The sound effects are decent as well across the board.
Included in the package are “Time Attack” and “Boss Rush” modes that will test your skills. In Time Attack, you play the through the selected game in full as you are timed with both a replay of your run, as well as your time being posted to the leaderboards upon conclusion. Boss Rush works similarly in that you fight all of the bosses from the selected game with your replay and time posted afterwards. However, it’s important to note that Rewind is disabled in both of these modes.
Similar to Mega Man: Legacy Collection’s Challenge Mode, you are able to view replays of anyone on the Leaderboards for both modes, allowing you to learn how to optimise your times. Likewise, if you find that you’re getting stuck on a boss or a specific part when playing the games normally, watch a replay to learn how to get past it. These replays and modes serve as great entry points in learning more about the world of speedrunning and is a great place to start.
In addition to the 6 games, The Disney Afternoon Collection comes with some great extras! There’s an image gallery full of concept art with interesting information, box scans, print ads and original artwork. There’s also a music player that allows you to play any of the songs across all 6 games at any time, so you can kick out the jams to the Ducktales Moon theme whenever you want.
The overall look of the menus is inspired by the 90’s Disney Afternoon look which loads quickly and has a clean look and feel. There are also some nice touches, as you are navigating the menu there’s a chiptune version of the Disney Afternoon theme playing, with remixed tracks from each game when entering their respective menus.
Overall, The Disney Afternoon Collection is a great package with a lot of value! While Talespin and Darkwing Duck may not have held up as much as I would have hoped, even with those games removed I still think the package is worth it (plus in Darkwing Duck’s case it’s still pretty fun). With superb emulation, great extras and the addition of Time Attack/Boss Rush modes, it’s a fantastic package. Whether you’re jumping into these games for the first time, you’re new to retro games or you grew up on these games, The Disney Afternoon Collection is a great buy!
Initial release date: April 18, 2017
Developer: Digital Eclipse
Mode: Single-player, 2-Player Co-Op (Rescue Rangers 1+2 only)
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Genres: Action Platformer, Retro Collection
Reviewed on PS4