Capcom has brought us another selection of 8-bit platformers like a hurricane, here on, PS4. Is the Disney Afternoon Collection here to rescue us with nostalgia? Or does it take a Dark(wing) Talespin into frustration?
Disney used to love a good spinoff telly series to beloved characters, even better if they had whole new lives that made little sense when looking at the source material. Donald Duck’s nephews were now treasure hunting with a rich Scottish Uncle in Ducktales. Chip n’ Dale were no longer pestering Pluto. Instead, they were gadget-laden Rescue Rangers (but not The Rescuers), and the animal cast of The Jungle Book could fly planes and essentially become smugglers in Talespin. Ridiculous? Yes. Awful? Never. These were fairly good kids shows, all with their own insanely catchy theme song.
During the late 80s/early 90s,Capcom was commissioned to create games for these licenses (and also Darkwing Duck). As this was during that time period, each game was naturally a platformer of some description, and the results were mostly positive. In all, The Disney Afternoon Collection compiles two Ducktales games, two Rescue Rangers, Darkwing Duck, and Talespin, all in their original, colorful visual glory, topped with some extra little treats, to lure those who have yet to experience them.
The highlight of this package? Well, unsurprisingly, Ducktales. It is a game often brought up in conversations regarding the great platformers of gaming’s more youthful years, and it’s definitely the jewel of this retrotastic crown. The chiptune soundtrack still holds great appeal, and pogoing about as Scrooge McDuck in some neat levels remains good, tough, and fun. It’s not quite up there with the elite of that era, but it’s damn strong for what it is.
Second best is Darkwing Duck, a cartoon Disney version of Batman…as a duck. The game feels a bit slower than the rest, and is probably the furthest any game here goes from the MegaMan mould. Quite intentionally, it is highly reminiscent of the 2D Batman titles of the time, only more child friendly. Visuals and pace aside, it’s good enough, but hardly one to stick in the memory after you finish it.
Sitting in the middle of the card like the Dolph Ziggler of this Collection are Chip n Dale: Rescue Rangers and Talespin, with the charismatic chipmunk duo edging it by virtue of playing like a low grade Mega Man title, while Baloo’s Hawaiian shirt-filled adventure is novel enough to have flying in it, making it stand out somewhat. It’s a bit boring though.
Ducktales’ sequel and the sequel to Rescue Rangers are the weakest part of the collection, though, containing largely recooked aspects of the originals with less of the charm and flavor, but they are still half-decent, if unmemorable, time fillers.
Thankfully, Capcom has thought to do more than just throw a bunch of games together under one banner and slap some trophies on. There’s an impressive bit of effort put into boosting this package with extras. Sure you’ll get galleries, which are nice, but much like the Mega Man Collection, Capcom’s put challenges into each game to provide a bit of variety in bite-sized portions. They’re well thought out, and being separate voluntary pursuits, they don’t interfere with the main games.
There are also options to fiddle with the display, so you can recreate playing on an old TV or monitor for more immersive nostalgia if you so wish, but the absolute best feature is the rewind button.
In lieu of difficulty levels, Capcom has implemented all six games with the option to reverse time. By holding down L1 for as long as you need, you can correct mistimed jumps, restart difficult sections instead of restarting entire stages, and redo boss fights in an instant. It’s such a simple idea, yet it gives players of all skill levels an equal shot at finishing some admittedly tough games. So no matter what your proficiency at games may be, you’ll be able to solve a mystery, and rewrite history like everyone else.
There’s a small downside to this, of course, as it impacts the longevity of six games you could feasibly finish in a Disney Afternoon (I assume this is on a similar timescale to regular afternoons). In fairness, the cheap entry price is just right for a selection of 8-bit platformers draped in sheets of the finest Disney (alright, it’s not actually the finest), so it’s a relatively minor complaint to have, and an avoidable one if you want it to be.
There’s no doubting that the Disney Afternoon Collection is a great example of how to do a retro games compilation right. The games on offer, as a collective whole, aren’t particularly worthy of such treatment, but it’s nice to see the likes of Ducktales (which is actually returning to TV this year) and Darkwing Duck brought forward in their original state for a new audience at least.