DuckTales DOS review

With the return of the most ear-catching cartoon theme song of all times (and the show too), I decided to take a look at the videogame. No, not the popular NES version but the PC version instead. I’m talking about DuckTales (WOO HOO!).

DuckTales: The Quest for Gold is an action-platform game developed by Incredible Technologies and published by Walt Disney Computer Software. It was originally released in 1990 for Amiga, Atari ST, Apple II, Commodore 64 and DOS.

But first let’s look at the cover, shall we?

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“D-D-Danger lurks behind you
There’s a stranger out to find you
What to do? Just grab on to some…”

The cover could perfectly be used on a VHS, DVD case or even a comic book, because it looks like it was directly taken from the show or drawn by Don Rosa. It depicts Uncle Scrooge and Launchpad McQuack running from a mummy while carrying a pot full of gold and gems. And if you know the show, it’s a typical image from it.

But it’s time to boot this sucker:

The title screen is taken from the cover art and of course it wouldn’t be a DuckTales game without its infamous theme. I swear, I’m hearing it in my head while I’m typing this. WOO HOO!

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The intro then shows us Scrooge’s rival, Flintheart Glomgold, barging in Scrooge’s office and challenging him to a contest: whoever amasses the most riches in a month, gains the title of “Duck of the Year” and appears on the cover of Dime Magazine (Disney’s equivalent of Time Magazine, get it?). Wasn’t that in an episode of the show?

Then you choose between three difficulty levels and off you go. You start in Scrooge’s office where you can swim in Scrooge’s money bin (and find rare coins), play in the stock market, buying and selling stocks (I’ll get back to that later on) or you can click on the map on the right.

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Yes, you can travel around the world, but only to four different locations that are constantly repeated.

Clicking on the map grants you access to the copy protection in some versions and after passing it, with the help of the manual, you can choose between several locations around the world to travel. Now you must be thinking that this game has lots of levels in it because of all the locations, right? Wrong! It has only four different stages:

  • A mountain stage, where you control Scrooge’s three nephews (Huey, Dewey and Louie) and with a climbing rope, you need to get to the top of the mountain to reclaim the treasure while avoiding enemies and falling rocks. You only get three opportunities (one for each nephew).

  • A jungle stage, where you again control the nephews, but this time you travel from left to right while jumping on branches, swinging on vines and avoiding dangerous animals. Easily the hardest stage in the game.

  • A photograph stage, where you take control of Webby and need to take photographs of animals that pop up. Photographs of rare animals are more valuable. Because there aren’t any enemies or obstacles, it’s the easiest stage, but it has a time limit.

  • A labyrinth stage, where you take control of Scrooge, the nephews and Webby, all at once and you need to travel across a labyrinth while avoiding pits and mummies before your torch burns out.

But before starting any of the above, you need to travel to them. Enter a flying stage, where you take control of Launchpad’s plane and fly it from left to right without crashing to the ground and other obstacles. If that happens, you lose time and money. In some cases, you get to race against Glomgold and if he finishes the stage first, he gets the treasure.

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In case you’re wondering, you’re the pink dot. The yellow dot is where the treasure is and the brown dot is a mummy, who’s looking for you.

Apparently, you can find in some stages Bombastium, which can be used by Gyro Gearloose to invent a teleporter, thus bypassing the flying stage, but I haven’t found it so far. Also, for every stage that you finish successfully, that particular location on the map turns green and can’t be played again. Consequently, every treasure found by Glomgold, turns a location red and can’t be accessed either.

During the 30 days, you can return to the office for more money-swimming or to check your investments in the stock market. While I get the money-swimming part (it’s a staple of the character), the stock market minigame baffles me. I mean, yes in the comics and show, Scrooge is depicted as a business man but the main focus of the show was adventure, exploration and treasure hunting. Buying and selling stocks isn’t what I call exciting and this game was supposedly targeted for younger players. Did anyone actually played the stock market minigame? Even when this game was released?

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How is this physically possible?

Anyway, back to the map, you can also travel to the Island of Macaroon where a giant weighing scale waits to weigh all the gold you and Glomgold have amassed so far. If you go there before the end of the 30th day, it weighs your current gold and keeps it until the end of the month. When you reach the end of the month, you’ll be automatically transported there to weigh the final gold and determine the winner.

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Like always, the Junior Woodchuck Guide is a godsend.

And that’s the entire gameplay! No special stages nor anything. There’s practically no difference whatsoever between the four stages, just very small variations. The graphics are colorful but the animation is very stiff. And the controls, even with a gamepad, aren’t very responsive. The music is OK (nowhere near as good as in the NES version) but the sound effects are very limited. While I found the easiest difficulty setting not much of a challenge, the other difficulty setting posed a real challenge during the gameplay, but with only 4 different stages, it gets very repetitive in no time.

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“When it’s seems they’re headed for the final curtain
Bold deduction never fails, that’s for certain
The worst of messes become successes!”

The Amiga version not only has better graphics and sound effects, it also has digitized speech taken directly from the show. But the controls are a bit over-sensitive, especially during the flying stage.

In conclusion, this game pales in comparison with the NES version. While it has a few funny visual jokes here and there (like every time you crash the plane), in overall it isn’t a great game, despite having some cool cameos from the show. However if you’re a DuckTales fan, you might want to give it a shot by clicking here and enjoy it in your own browser.

I’m terribly sorry for the lack of reviews lately but I’ve found a new full-time job in another city, which prompt moving and everything, so there isn’t going to be as many reviews as before but I haven’t quit on playing and reviewing games.

Well, do you like DuckTales? What are your favorite episodes? Tell me on the comments below and while you’re at it, tell me of you think of the new show. See you guys around and keep on playing. WOO HOO!

Dr. Doom’s Revenge review

With the new Spider-Man movie in the theaters now, I’ve decided to take a look at one of the earliest Spider-Man games ever made for the PC. And since the new movie is part of the MCU, I think is fitting that I review one of the few Spider-Man titles for computer more integrated into the Marvel Universe that I know of. I’m talking about Dr. Doom’s Revenge.

The Amazing Spider-Man and Captain America in Dr. Doom’s Revenge (definitely a contender for the biggest game title award) is an action game developed by Paragon Software Corporation and published by Medalist International. It was originally released in 1989 for the Commodore 64, DOS and ZX Spectrum and it was re-released the following year for the Commodore Amiga, Amstrad CPC and Atari ST.

But before we take a look at the game, let’s check the cover, shall we?

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Cap: “Gee, take a look at this guy, will ya?”

The cover looks just like a comic book cover, with our villain looming over our heroes. Very fitting for a game that features classic superhero imagery and artwork. I suppose you couldn’t ask for more.

But it’s time to boot this webslinger:

The title screen, despite being colorful, is kind of ugly, artwork-wise. It has a nice music theme though. About the backstory, the game comes with a comic made by Marvel itself, explaining why our heroes are facing Dr. Doom. But about the comic itself, maybe I should someone else properly review it:

(Video courtesy of Atop the Fourth Wall)

Thanks Linkara! And don’t worry, I’ll handle the game.

The game starts right after the comic ends, with Spider-Man and Captain America splitting up to cover more ground, so the game alternates between both. It starts with a comic panel featuring Captain America and then changes to a side-view in which you control the character against a robot. Then after defeating said robot, it goes back to the panel to continue the story and then back again to the side-view where you need to avoid some traps. And then it goes to another panel, now featuring Spider-Man. And that’s practically the entire game, with both heroes facing enemies and avoiding traps with comic panels serving as sort of cutscenes, telling the story as it happens.

But it’s during the action sequences that the game turns ugly. From terrible controls, to awful animation and pitiful sound effects. This is not a fun game to play!

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I didn’t knew that Danny Trejo was part of the MCU!

The side-view depicts all the action and characters, while the bottom depicts pictures of said characters along with their names and health bars. Spider-Man, however, gets a second bar reflecting the level of his web-fluid. And during the stages where you have to avoid traps, a “Super Hero Challenge” image appears at the bottom, next to our character’s health bar.

The graphics aren’t anything special, with very ugly (but colorful) sprites during the action scenes and the artwork in the comic panels range from ugly to acceptable. At least some of the backgrounds during the action stages are somewhat nice and detailed.

There are only three music themes throughout the game: at the title screen, at the game-over screen and at the ending screen, after defeating Dr. Doom. There’s no more music during the rest of the game. And the sound effects are as basic as possible with a lot of screeching noises.

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Arch-nemesis?! Red Skull isn’t going to like that.

But perhaps the worst parts of the game are the controls and the animation. The animation is almost non-existent, with the characters moving extremely slowly. And as far as the controls go, I actually recommend the keyboard over a joystick or gamepad. The controls are limited to an action button and arrows and it’s easier to use the numeric keypad over the keyboard arrows. You have to press the action combined with a direction in order to attack your enemies and the distance between your character and your enemies determines which attack you’ll use. So you have to be far from the enemies for your character to use their signature attacks (Captain America throwing his shield and Spider-Man using his webs). There aren’t any special or particularly strong attacks, but some of the latter enemies do have special attacks that can drain your health bar.

But what makes the game particularly hard, it’s the fact you only have one life and no way to recharge your health bar (and neither Spidey’s webfluid). Also there are some traps that are insta-kill and if one of the characters dies, it’s automatically game-over. Even in the easiest difficulty setting! And then it’s back to the beginning.

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“Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does everything a spider can”

Depending on your skill (or luck), the game isn’t very big, but a tremendous amount of patience is required to finish it. And after finishing it once, there’s virtually no reason play it again. Despite the fact that it features several villains from both characters’ rogues gallery.

So, the only good things I can say about the game is that it has a good title theme and some of the backgrounds are well detailed, but the gameplay is just dreadful. The comic that comes with the game is also quite good but still, I can’t recommend this game, not even to Marvel fans.

I haven’t played the other versions, but the Amiga version seems to have better animation though. If you want to give it a shot, you can play it right here in your own browser.

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“When Captain America throws his might shield”

And if you want to kick Dr. Doom’s ass with Spider-Man and/or Captain America, there are several other games out there, each one better than this one.

So, what’s your favorite Marvel game and/or hero? Comment below and let me know. I think I’ll go the cinema and check out Spider-Man Homecoming. Well, see you around and keep on swinging and playing.

Ninja Rabbits review

Happy Easter! With all the painted eggs and rabbits and whatnot. So, instead of writing an article about Retro Easter Eggs (too much work and I’m lazy as hell), I’ve decided to just review a game with rabbits in it. And unfortunately, the first game with anthropomorphic rabbits that came to my mind is Ninja Rabbits.

Ninja Rabbits is an action game made by Microvalue and originally released in 1991 for Amiga, Atari ST and Commodore 64. It was re-released the following year for DOS.

And yes, this game was made to capitalize off TMNT’s fame back then. And no, it also has nothing to do with Usagi Yojimbo, an anthropomorphic rabbit SAMURAI.

But let’s look at the cover, shall we?

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It looks like they never saw an anthropomorphic rabbit with a karate gi before.

As one can see, the cover shows our titular “ninja” rabbit doing a weird Karate Kid pose and scaring a couple of punks, in the middle of a highway or bridge. Kind of uninspired, but it conveys well what the game is about.

Time to hop to this genin, shall we? I recommend turning off the sound, though:

For those brave enough to hear the entirety of the title theme, I apologize for the damage suffered to your ears. Don’t ask me what that aural atrocity was, but this is perhaps the first time I’m happy for a game NOT having any more music. The title screen might be the only good screen in the entire game, graphically speaking.

According to the game manual (a booklet actually), there was a toxic leak from a chemical plant that turns humans and other anthropomorphic beings into aggressive beasts, which prompts our protagonist to face them and travel to the plant to shut down the leakage. For that, he needs to travel from his home forest to the city and finally to the plant itself, facing all kinds of humans, other anthropomorphic animals, birds, etc.

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The game is only 3 levels long: the countryside (with good animations in the background), the city (full of punks, sewers and god-awful birds that will kill you in an instance if you’re not careful) and the chemical plant (with robots and some platforming).

You start with 3 lives and a carrot that serves as a life bar, which if fully depleted, you’ll lose a life. But don’t worry, there are some carrots distributed throughout the levels, which will grant extra lives.

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Underground versus other ninja… animals.

You control the protagonist with the arrow keys (if not using a joystick) and the space-bar for hitting your enemies with your stick. To perform other attacks, you need to combine the space-bar with any other arrow key. The stick attack is the most powerful attack but also the slowest one.

And talking about speed, our protagonist might be a rabbit but he sure moves like a turtle. He’s incomprehensibly slow compared with the rest of the enemies. You need to properly time your attacks or you’ll die fast! I don’t know if the controls are unresponsive, if the attacks use too many sprites or if the rabbit was programmed to be slower than the rest. Anyway, it makes the game almost unplayable.

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Those birds overhead are the worst enemies in the entire game!

The game has very few sounds, but they serve their purpose, I suppose.

But the worst part for me is that the game not only lacks boss fights at the end of each level, but after finishing the last level, the game puts you right back at the start of the first level without any rhyme or reason. Not even a congratulations text or whatever!

With just 3 levels, you’ll finish the game in no time, even with the hard difficulty. In fact, this feels more like a demo than a proper game. It’s painfully obvious that this game was made with as little effort as possible.

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I assure you. You won’t find any turtles down here.

The Amiga version is slightly better, with a proper title theme and a difficulty select screen, which is absent in the DOS version.

In other words, not only I don’t recommend this game (not even to furries) but I strongly tell you to avoid it. It’s without a doubt, one of the worst games I ever played! AND SOMEHOW IT HAS A SEQUEL! HOW?! WHY?!

You don’t have to take my word for it. Here, experience this atrocity in your own browser.

So I apologize for this being my Easter present to you. To make up for it, next time, we’ll take a look at a much better game! Another true cult classic, I promise.

Until then, leave your comments below and have a happy Easter and keep on playing (just not this game).

Alley Cat for DOS review

Hello and welcome to Retro Freak Reviews, where we take a look at PC games from the 80s and 90s and today we’re going to take a look at mine and several people’s 1st PC game: Alley Cat for DOS.

Alley Cat was created in 1983 by Bill Williams, based on a concept by John D. Harris and originally published by Synapse Software for the Atari 8-bit computers and one year later published by IBM for the MS-DOS.

But before taking a look at the game, let’s take a look at the box art. Unfortunately, my version of the game came in a simple floppy disk containing several games, which was offered to me when I got my very 1st PC. So instead, let’s look at the cover of the Atari version a friend of mine send me:

Alley Cat - Insert Front + Back Cover [side A].jpgAs one can see, this cover shows what the game is about: a lonely black cat against the injustices of modern society. Actually, it’s just a collection of mini-games. And this cat must be the most hated animal around, look at the faces of the people in the windows! Come on, the poor cat is hanging in there for his life! Have some sympathy!

And I just love the title screen and its tune. Check it out!

Even in a PC speaker, this little tune is great! And the title screen is quite nice, with the top score and everything as graffiti. Better than having the title of the game over a black background.

Aaaaaand speaking about black backgrounds, there’s the menu screen. It is pretty basic, with the joystick config and the difficulty levels, which I have to admit, naming them after cat names is just adorable.

According to the game description, you control a black cat named Fred, who has to climb trash cans, then a fence, and then hang on clotheslines with mice while avoiding the dog and objects thrown through the windows when open. And your objective is to get inside one of the windows.

In each window there’s one of the several mini-games waiting for you.

My favourite ones are the giant cheese room and the one with the fish-bowl. I mean, look at the size of that cheese! And you have to get the mice that live inside it! Holy Cheddar, Batman!

The other mini-games are also pretty good, especially the one with a room full of dogs, in which the cat has to eat all the food in the bowls WITHOUT waking the dogs. Easier said than done.

And after winning 1 of these mini-games, you end back in the alley, but now, each window that opens; it shows a white female cat calling you out.

So again you climb on the trash cans, the fence and the clotheslines to enter 1 of the opening windows, but this time you enter the most pink and hearty thing I ever seen in my life. Several rows of hearts surrounded by Cupids shooting arrows. Man, even Liberace would say to take it down a notch!

The objective here is to reach the top kitten while avoiding the other cats, the arrows and the broken hearts. Fortunately, you can use the present to offer to 1 of the cats on your path. And if you fall through the bottom row, the white kitten apparently insults you and end up back in the alley. But if you get to the top cat, they kiss and somehow it causes an explosion of hearts in your computer screen. Not even a St. Valentine’s parade has these many hearts!

And then you go back to the alley, but notice how the setup of the alley changed and you also have gained an extra life. This means you have restarted the game but in a higher difficulty level.

This is known as an arcade style gaming, where you play until all your lives run out. This game has around 30 difficulty levels and basically continues indefinitely until you reach game over. These types of games basically have no ending. Depending how good you are, you can play to your heart’s content.

So, does this game aged well or not? Graphically speaking, although the sprites and the animations are ok, the CGA graphics didn’t age well.

The gameplay is still pretty solid and believe it or not, this game was programmed to analyse your computer’s speed and run accordingly. Yes, you can run this game in a Pentium PC without using any CPU slowing program. Now that’s impressive!

There was even a fan made sequel called Alley Cat 2, which is more or less the original game but with better graphics, more colours and even some new mini-games, but not as well animated.

But back to the original game: Alley Cat is a fun little game, easy to get into and just perfect if you want to kill 1 or 2 minutes of your time, but don’t want to play anything more complex.

Does this game deserve a remake? Yes! It might be a bit challenging for casual players, but an easier remake for smartphones would be perfect! There are a few remake projects around the internet, but nothing definitive yet.

And luckily, you can try it in the Internet Archive.

And that was my 1st Retro Freak Review. How do you think it was? If you liked it, share it and leave your comments below or even a suggestion for future reviews.

Well, see you guys around and remember to keep on playing!