The Disney Afternoon Collection Review
Sony PlayStation 4Also available on PC and Microsoft Xbox One
The late 80s and early 90s were a simpler time. Donald Trump was losing money and selling pizza, Disney ruled with great cartoons and most important of all, I was born. 1989 was a seminal year for games as well with the arrival of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game, the release of the now iconic Game Boy and finally the start of Capcom’s perfect NES run with the Disney licence. It all started with DuckTales (Woo! Hoo!) and lasted until 1994 with Chip 'n' Dale: Rescue Rangers 2. These games and more have now been collected into the Disney Afternoon Collection and are now available on PC, Xbox One and PS4. It is time to take a trip down nostalgia valley and see if these games still hold up today in this perfectly priced package.
Just to get everyone up to speed, the Disney Afternoon was a slot on American television that was dedicated to the best in Disney TV animation at the time. You had the likes of DuckTales (Woo! Hoo!), TaleSpin, Darkwing Duck and Chip ‘n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers to name but a few. You have six games to choose from in this collection. The now brilliant DuckTales (Woo! Hoo!) and its sequel, Chip 'n' Dale: Rescue Rangers 1 and 2, TaleSpin and Darkwing Duck.
Each game is a classic in its own right but this collection also comes with a whole bunch of extras. First it has each game's soundtrack available for you to listen to and we all know that DuckTales (Woo! Hoo! OK that is the last one) has one of the most iconic songs in TV history. Second is a media gallery that shows a collection of behind-the-scenes images of the cartoons and the game’s development. Next, each game comes with a boss rush and time attack mode on top of the original games. Finally - and this is the best part of the whole package - you can rewind time at any moment in the game. Messed up that jump and went plummeting into the death pit below? No problem, just hold the L1 button and time rewinds allowing you to reach a safe point and try again. It is an absolute godsend in these purposefully difficult games. It does however come with the downside of playing all the music and SFX backwards while you hold down L1. It is an absolute nightmare to hear, especially on the Himalayas level of DuckTales. It would have been nice for the developers to put in some other music or just turn the volume down at that point.
But what about the games you are getting? How do they play just on their own? How do they compare to the remakes of today and games that have taken their mechanics and built on them? Settle down because we are in for an afternoon of fun and flaws.
Needless to say, it is timeless. Not only does the TV show have one of the best theme songs of all time but the game has one of the best soundtracks of all time. Moon theme anyone? DuckTales is a platforming game that has you playing as Scrooge McDuck on a quest to find treasure and continue to be the richest duck in all the world. With the help of Huey, Dewey, Louie, Webby and Launchpad McQuack, you raid tombs and mansions for old treasure. With the now iconic music playing in the background and the walking stick pogo attack, DuckTales will forever remain a classic game that is worth revisiting again and again. The game does retain its old-school difficulty but with the rewind time feature the instant death pits are easily avoided. Honestly, I adore everything this game does and could listen to the soundtrack on repeat all day.
Chip 'n' Dale: Rescue Rangers
You play as Chip 'n' Dale on a quest to stop the evil Fat Cat who has kidnapped their genius inventor friend Gadget. Your quest takes you from houses, to casinos to forests and everything in between. This is a platforming game that can be played solo or with a friend. The main mechanic allows you to pick up boxes and throw them at enemies. The enemies often run right for you and are easily avoided by jumping over them or throwing a box in their direction. Boss battles are a similar affair with the bosses following an easy to recognise pattern. A very standard platforming game that is really easy to play.
TaleSpin was a continuation of the Jungle Book but it is now a weird 1950s utopia/dystopia where the human race has been completely replaced with anthropomorphic Jungle Book characters. Baloo is now a pilot for a cargo plane delivery company and Shere Khan is now the owner of a big corporation. It is as weird as it sounds. The game is a Gradius or R-Type shooter but is really slow and lacks anything that made those games great. The bosses are very unfair at times and will take you an age to beat due to randomness. For example, on the cloud level the boss is two green planes. The only time you can hurt them is to shoot them when they form into one plane. However, instead of the boss following a pattern it randomly picks one of three states with only one of those allowing you to hurt them. You can see how this may quickly become quickly frustrating.
Darkwing Duck is a parody of Batman but done really well. You play as the titular character trying to stop all the spoof versions of super villains. Poison Ivy is a half-duck, half-plant villain called Bushfoot, Hydro is now a half-dog, half-water bad guy called The Liquidator and the Joker becomes a former toy salesman called Quackerjack. Darkwing Duck is a standard platformer that uses Ninja Gaiden-style maneuvers to keep the level design interesting. The boss battles, on the other hand are just a nightmare, every single boss is more interested in wasting your time than actually fighting you. They jump around constantly and stay still long enough for you to hit them once before jumping around again. It gets repetitive and annoying very quickly. However, even with the boss fights, the overall game is actually really fun.
This was a huge surprise. Not only is it a sequel to one of the greatest NES games of all time but it also improves on the original greatly. In addition to using his walking stick to pogo onto enemies, Scrooge can now use it to drag objects and hang from platforms. This creates new opportunities in the game to make interesting levels and boss encounters. Instead of just jumping on enemies and beating bosses, levels now ask you to solve puzzles and look for extra treasures. It also does the classic game trope of giving you the bad ending if you don't find all the extra treasure.
Chip 'n' Dale: Rescue Rangers 2
A big improvement over the original and graphically it looks fantastic for the time - the last boss battle sprite is especially impressive. Once again you play as Chip 'n' Dale as they fight against the evil Fat Cat. The mechanics haven’t really changed much over the original with you picking up crates and throwing them at enemies however, it does improve the level design and the boss battles are a lot of fun.
All in all the Disney Afternoon Collection is a great deal; six great games for a very reasonable price, and three different game modes. The rewind feature is also great and solves a lot of problems that comes with old-school platforming games and instant death pits. They’re great fun and the best bit: you don’t even have to get up to change the cartridge if you want to switch games.