Welcome to Part 2 of The Retro Review Series’ third episode, covering DuckTales. If you’re just jumping in now don’t miss part one of our coverage, ‘The Intro‘.
DuckTales is an important NES game for a number of reasons. Interestingly, it was released in North America, before it was released in Japan. To this day, most Japanese-developed videogames are released in their mother country, before they are translated into English. Sometimes these gaps are longer than others, but rarely are they reversed. DuckTales was released in September 1989 in North America, and January 1990 in Japan. This is likely because Disney’s franchise was much more popular in North America, and might have even been completely unknown in The Land Of The Rising Sun. In Japan, the game was not called DuckTales, but had the much more accurate title Wanpaku Dakku Yume Bōken, which means “Naughty Duck’s Dream Adventures”.
In the early 80s, Capcom was mostly known as an arcade game company, responsible for 1942 (1985), Ghosts ‘N Goblins (1985), Trojan (1986), Bionic Commando (1987), Street Fighter (1987), and Strider (1989). In 1987 they released the first game in their Mega Man franchise, to mild success. The Mega Man series has gone on to sell over 30 million games worldwide, and Mega Man 2, which was released only three months before DuckTales (in North America) is still considered by many to be one of the best action platformers of all time. Capcom would go on to release 4 other Mega Man games for the NES, as well as plenty of other titles, such as: Mickey Mousecapade (1988), Willow (1989), Adventures In Magic Kingdom (1990), Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers (1990), Little Nemo: The Dream Master (1990), Street Fighter 2010 (1990), G.I. Joe: The Atlantis Factor (1991), The Little Mermaid (1991), TaleSpin (1991), Darkwing Duck (1992), Gargoyle’s Quest 2 (1992), Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers 2 (1993), and DuckTales 2 (1993). What’s important to note, is that DuckTales was released by Capcom, while they were perfecting the platform and action genres on the NES.
“In Japan, the game was not called DuckTales, but had the much more accurate title Wanpaku Dakku Yume Bōken, which means “Naughty Duck’s Dream Adventures”.
Capcom was known for creating quality licensed Disney games. Their DuckTales, Rescue Rangers, Little Mermaid, and Darkwing Duck games are all fantastic! This trend continued onto the Super Nintendo with the Magical Quest games, Aladdin, Goof Troop, and (to a much lesser quality extent), Bonkers!. I thought that Capcom had also made the SNES games for The Lion King, and The Jungle Book, but found out when researching this article that they were made by Virgin (who made the Sega Genesis Aladdin game). I also thought Capcom had made Mickey Mania, which was released by Sony. The point of all this is that Capcom made so many excellent licensed Disney games, that I thought all the early 90s Disney games were made by the same publisher/ developer.
Capcom’s first team up with Disney was 1988’s Mickey Mousecapade, which is not a very good game. Even though Capcom published the game in North America, it was actually developed by Hudson Soft. DuckTales was the first game developed by Capcom, for Disney, and it remains (arguably) the best of their NES releases… It’s also arguably the best game for the NES… and arguably the best platformer of all time.
DuckTales was produced by Tokuro Fujiwara, who was General Manager of Capcom’s game division from 1988 to 1996. Fujiwara directed Ghosts ‘N Goblins / Ghouls ‘N Ghosts and Commando / Bionic Commando (among other lesser known titles) in the 80s, and didn’t direct another game until 1998, when he created one of my favorite games of all time: Tomba!. Between those years, Tokuro Fujiwara produced a lot of classics, including (fasten your seatbelts, kids) Mega Man 2, Willow, DuckTales, Mega Man 3, Gargoyles Quest, Chip ‘N Dale’s Rescue Rangers, Street Fighter 2010, Mega Man 4, Little Nemo, The Little Mermaid, TaleSpin, Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts, Darkwing Duck, Gargoyle’s Quest II, Mega Man 5, Breath Of Fire, The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse, DuckTales 2, Final Fight 2, Mega Man 6, Aladdin, Chip ‘N Dale’s Rescue Rangers 2, Mega Man X, Mega Man Soccer, Goof Troop, Demon’s Crest, The Great Circus Mystery Starring Mickey & Minnie, Breath Of Fire II, Mega Man X2, X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse, Bonkers!, Mega Man 7, Mega Man X3, Final Fight 3, and Resident Evil. Whew! Easily one of the most important figures in the history of videogames!
Although DuckTales does not have a credited Director, Yoshinori Takenaka was the game’s Designer. It was his first major directing project, in a list that includes Mega Man 3, Magic Sword, Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts, Mega Man 4, Mega Man X, and Breath Of Fire. He later shifted roles to Producer, with titles such as Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, Mega Man 8, Mega Man X4, and Breath Of Fire III.
Keiji Inafune began at Capcom as the main Illustrator for the Mega Man series, and was the main Illustrator for DuckTales as well. This credit is worth mentioning because this Illustrator went on to become one of Capcom’s most important Producers, with credits that include Mega Man 8-10, Mega Man X4, Mega Man Legends 1 & 2, The Misadventures Of Tron Bonne, Mega Man Zero 1-4, Mega Man Battle Network 1-6, Onimusha 1-3, The Legend Of Zelda: The Minish Cap, and Dead Rising 1 & 2. He is also the Producer for the upcoming, massively successful Kickstarter project: Mighty No. 9. Another legendary game Producer!
The music in DuckTales was composed by Hiroshige Tonomura, and it remains his only major score credit. The soundtrack for DuckTales is incredibly memorable, but more on that next week…
These articles will be released every month on COGconnected, and split up into 4 weekly parts: The Intro, The History, The Review, and The Verdict. So here ends The History. Next week: The Review!