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The Disney Afternoon Collection Review

by | @DJamesSC | on April 18, 2017

The number of games based on licensed properties has definitely fallen in recent years, but most of the ones that have released have been rather disappointing. This was much different during the 8-bit era of gaming, with Capcom being one of the most well known for such games, specifically with Disney. A handful of those games on the NES were based on very popular TV series that have now been brought back for modern consoles in The Disney Afternoon Collection.

Capcom enlisted developer Digital Eclipse to bring back the classic Mega Man games for NES in the well received Mega Man Collection two years ago, with many expecting them to continue with further collections of games starring the Blue Bomber. However, Capcom and Disney surprised us with the announcement of The Disney Afternoon Collection that would be handled very similarly to their previous compilation.

The Disney Afternoon Collection comes with six games includes that released between 1989 and 1994 for the NES, which includes Ducktales, Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, Talespin, Darkwing Duck, Ducktales 2, and Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers 2. Ducktales was the only game of this group that had any sort of newer release, which came in the completely redone Ducktales Remastered, but this collection includes each of the games in their original NES form instead.

As soon as you start up the game, you can easily choose between any of the six games included, which are ordered chronologically by year of release. By selecting any of the games available, you will have four options to choose from, which include Play, Time Attack, Boss Rush, and How to Play. Play is the simplest of the group, as you literally just start up the game as if you were booting it up on the NES to play.

Ducktales is the most well known of the bunch and still holds up incredibly well as you get to pogo around each level as Scrooge McDuck. This one is definitely a good example of a typical Capcom platformer where you are moving throughout different screens while destroying enemies and attempting to make it across dangerous jumps, complete with fairly simple but fun boss fights.

A few years later came Ducktales 2, which takes the original formula and builds upon it. Scrooge’s pogo stick is a little more versatile this time around though, as through different upgrades obtained by finding Gyro in different levels, you can now destroy and move different objects that were not possible in the first game. This one also has hidden pieces of a treasure map for you to find, which allows for a little more replayability.

Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers is a platformer as well, though it plays very differently than Ducktales does. Offering the ability to play with one or two players, you will make your way through a number of different levels that are selectable on a world map. There are even alternate paths you can take that will save you time, which is very reminiscent of Super Mario Bros. 3. The combat involves you picking up boxes all throughout the game and throwing them at enemies, with each level featuring multiple tiered stages that you can go up and down between throughout. The bosses here are very simple to take down, as you will be picking up a red ball and then throwing it at the various enemies until they go down.

Like Ducktales 2, Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers 2 is very similar to its predecessor with similar gameplay and everything, though this time there is no world map to choose levels from. While the levels themselves feel like they could have very well been in the first game, the boss fights are much tougher and more varied this time around.

Talespin moves away completely from the platforming style that the rest of the games have for a side-scrolling shooter. Taking control of Baloo, you will fly through a number of quite difficult levels. You must pick up items that provide you with money so that you can upgrade your plane after each level, with some levels being near impossible without the right upgrades.

The final game in The Disney Afternoon is Darkwing Duck, which very well may be the hardest of them all. While the others are mostly original, Darkwing Duck is very much inspired by the Mega Man series, but that isn’t a bad thing. The game requires pinpoint precision while playing and has very difficult bosses to defeat as well, which may require you to use one of the collection’s new features to beat, the ability to rewind.

Besides just playing through the games themselves, there a few new key features added in The Disney Afternoon Collection on top of the game’s themselves. For each of the six games included, you can rewind at any time by holding down the left bumper. This will be a huge life saver for if you are having trouble getting past a section or boss. This is a feature that Rare Replay used well, but the Mega Man Legacy Collection was sorely lacking, so it’s great to see it in place here in The Disney Afternoon Collection.

By pressing the right bumper during any of the games, you’ll also have access to the options menu that gives you a few choices. For one, you can save your game and then load it later, though you are restricted to one save at a time per individual game this way. You also have the ability to choose whether you want the screen size to be original, full, or wide, with a border unique to each of the six games available if using the non-widescreen versions.

Just like we saw in Digital Eclipse’s previous collection, The Disney Afternoon Collection allows the player to play with a completely clean and crystal clear version of each game or use two different filters that adjust to a more retro look. The TV filter adds in scanlines as if you were playing on an old tube television, while the Monitor filter is kind of an in-between option that looks better than the TV one quality wise, but still isn’t perfectly clear. Having no filter on just shows how much work has been done to make the game looks so clean, while the filters are a nice addition as a secondary option.

Just because The Disney Afternoon Collection looks great, that doesn’t mean the games always perform perfectly. As with any old NES game, you are going to witness slowdown at times when a lot is going on on screen. This isn’t an issue that is incredibly common while playing, but it will pop up time to time. The good news is that if you happen to die as a result of an issue, you can use the rewind feature to save yourself.

Still holds up incredibly well

Time Attack mode for the six games is basically the same as Play, but this time there is no rewind or save feature at all. You are instead timed in your playthrough of each game, with it being over if you run out of lives and continues. There is also a leaderboard that shows the best times for Time Attack with that specific game, as well as your comparative rank among friends and the general leaderboard. What is also really neat is that you can actually watch other people’s full playthroughs, as well as having the option to race against them.

Similar to Time Attack, The Disney Afternoon Collection has another competitive option with Boss Rush. Each of the games in the collection feature a number of bosses throughout, so this just has you facing off against each of them without having to play through the levels that come before them. This also removes the rewind and save features, but it includes the ability to watch other people’s runs and race them as well like in Time Attack.

The Disney Afternoon Collection also includes some bonuses that can be accessed from the main menu, including the excellent soundtracks for all six games. By selecting each game, you can then choose between any song from a full list. You’re going to hear plenty of this during the games themselves, but these catchy tunes are great to just put on the background while you’re working on something else, as they’re already going to be stuck in your head after playing.

There is also a gallery included that has different pieces of art that range from concept art from the TV shows being compared to the in-game designs to original artwork and box art for each of the games. This is a great inclusion for anybody that loves gaming history, as it gives you not only various artwork, but also some very interesting trivia.

The Verdict

Capcom’s partnership with Disney back in the 8-bit era led to some really fantastic games, six of which have been brought back via The Disney Afternoon Collection. On top of making these often difficult games more accessible with a rewind feature, also having competitive game options like Time Attack and Boss Rush make The Disney Afternoon Collection a worthwhile trip back to the past.

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