So, you like your nostalgia with a nice heaping spoonful of nostalgia on the side? Well then, do I have a game for you. The Disney Afternoon Collection offers fans a double dose of ‘member berries as it elicits memories of both playing NES and watching Disney’s newest animated offerings in our collective late 80’s and early 90’s memories. It’s a distilled after school experience consisting of 6 NES titles based off of the titular Disney animated show block. The real question is, then, how do they games stack up to modern offerings? Is this collection worth all the money in your bin or will a purchase send you into a tailspin of regret?
So what’s this about?
This game is actually a collection of separate Capcom developed games released on the Nintendo Entertainment System from 1989 to 1993. As a result, it would be easier to break this section up into what each game is about:
DuckTales – Scrooge McDuck, along with his trusty cane, must traverse a variety of locals around the globe in order to amass even more wealth. Because, you know, a duck can never be too rich. This game is both the highlight of this collection and an odd choice to champion since a fantastic remake was released by Wayforward just a few years back. Still, this game is one of the most solid platformers ever made and the soundtrack is an absolute classic. I would even go so far as to say that the experience of playing it in this form, without the superfluous voice acting, is a more streamlined and fun experience.
DuckTales 2 – This game has slightly more plot than the first. Huey finds part of a treasure map and it begins Scrooge’s quest to find the missing pieces. This game is not as well known as the first, but many would argue it’s a better game. The soundtrack is somewhat lacking compared to the first, but the sprite work is a bit better overall and the game has more of an emphasis on explorations within each level. It also includes some neat cane gimmicks as you can now push and pull blocks or hang from conveniently placed hooks.
Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers – No case too big, no case too small, if you need help you call – the Rescue Rangers. This game puts you in charge of either Chip or Dale as you track down the missing kitten of a little girl. It’s probably the best NES co-op experience starring rodent PI’s currently out on the market, although a case could be made for its sequel. This is an easy game, but it’s also a fun experience. Especially in multiplayer.
Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers 2 – I had never played this game prior to owning this collection, but if you are familiar with the first title you will be able to dive right in. It’s a very pretty game… it released in 1993 so Capcom was able to squeeze a lot of juice out of the aged NES hardware. New to this game is the ability to throw the other player. Once again, if you play this, please try to find a friend. It’s a fine 1 player game but it’s made for co-op. The plot is a bunch of fluff that involves Fat Cat stealing an ancient Urn.
Darkwing Duck – Darkwing Duck, St. Canard’s signature crime fighter, takes to the 8-bit streets to confront the nefarious criminal organization F.O.W.L. Unlike the previous two series mentioned, Darkwing Duck is a more classic run n’ gun style of game. The game is structured similarly to a Mega Man title, with a stage select and everything, but it does not have the same sort of variety that Robot Master weapons add to your classic Mega Man games. Still, this is a solid title for old-school platforming shooter fans.
TaleSpin – This game is certainly the odd man out in regards to this collection. Instead of being a platformer, players take control of Baloo the Bear’s giant head sticking out of an airplane. It’s an okay side-scrolling shooter with an interesting twist: you can turn around at any time to shoot enemies that are creeping up from behind. The game can be brutal as far as difficulty goes, which is a far cry from the other titles in this collection.
What does it do right?
Game collections are all about two things: presentation and the quality of the games being collected. I already went over the games in the previous section. Suffice to say they range from absolute classics to fun diversions. The games are all emulated with extreme faith to the originals, slowdown and all. Think of these as an attempt to preserve the originals and not as an improvement over the NES titles on which they are based. The collection does include a few neat features that make the games easier to traverse, though. The first of these are save states, which have become standard when it comes to these sorts of releases. The second is the absolutely brilliant rewind feature. You can, at any time, rewind a few seconds in the game with a push of a button. Sure, it might be cheating, but it’s one of the only things that kept me interested in TaleSpin this go around.
The Disney Afternoon Collection also includes a few nice extras. A boss rush mode, including an online leader board, can be found for each game. It’s an extra bit of challenge for those looking for it. The title also features a gallery that is filled with concept art that any fan of these games will want to check out. The overall presentation is also excellent, with several display options available to make sure the experience suits your personal tastes. They even did an 8-bit remix of the actual Disney Afternoon theme song that you can listen to while navigating menus!
The final verdict
This game is the best way to (legally) obtain some marquee NES titles. Capcom has gone a long way to include a premium experience that never feels cheap or thrown together. Like I said, when it comes to collections like this, it’s all about the presentation.