Sunday, November 20, 2016

Retro Game Review: Darkwing Duck (GameBoy)

Publisher: Capcom
Year: 1993
Ranking: Four Quarters

"Let's get dangerous."

About a year ago, I discovered the Nintendo GameBoy. It's a great little handheld system that allows you to game on the go. It has an embedded gamepad, so you don't need to struggle with the awkward touch screen controls seen in portable tablets like the iPad. It also doesn't spontaneously explode like some other newfangled devices that can also play games. 

The fact of the matter is that I never had a GameBoy growing up. It's something that I had always wanted, but the limited funds I earned from helping out Dad or scooping ice cream were always prioritized elsewhere. Once my more recent investments in my Atari 2600 and 5200 collections had tipped past reasonable and into obsessive, my interests shifted to the long desired GameBoy. 

There are several things to love about the GameBoy. First, the system is portable. You play the games anywhere, anytime. Second, the games are short and easily digestible. With the exception of some of the RPGs, the games can be completed in a relatively short amount of time. Third, there is a deep collection of games for this family of systems. In fact over 2,500 games were released worldwide for the GameBoy, GameBoy Color and GameBoy Advance. Finally, collecting for the system is relatively affordable. Compare, if you will, Darkwing Duck for the NES versus Darkwing Duck for the GameBoy. Currently, according to PriceCharting, Darkwing Duck for the NES is selling for approximately $45 while the GameBoy version comes in at $15. As long as you stay away from Pokemon, most games will come in well south of $20. 

"I am the terror who flaps in the night! I am the spider who nips at your neck! I am Darkwing Duck!"

Darkwing Duck was one of my favorite cartoons in early High School. Although I probably shouldn't admit it, I remember coming home from school, turning on the TV and settling into an afternoon of fantastic Disney television programming. DuckTales and Darkwing Duck were my favorites. What I didn't realize at the time was that Capcom was making great video game versions of several  Disney Afternoon shows and porting them over to the NES and GameBoy.

The internet will tell you that the GameBoy version of the game hews closely to the NES version. I can't comment on that, but what I can say is that the GameBoy version is well worth the price of admission. Snappy graphics, responsive controls and a great soundtrack all come together to make a fun game. Multipathing and hard to reach items made the platforming elements rewarding as well. Darkwing Duck was built using the MegaMan engine and this solid foundation shows. There were a few times where I got frustrated enough to check the internet to see how to make a particular jump (see below), but overall it was just the right difficulty for me. I feel particularly proud that I didn't need to resort to the internet to beat any of the bosses. In the end it took me about a week to beat the game. A straight play through will take about 30 minutes to an hour.

I'll leave you now with some of my favorite Darkwing Duck quotes. I have no doubt these will be included on the HD remake that I am sure will be coming out for the Nintendo Switch....
  • I am the terror that flaps in the night, I am the special news bulletin that interrupts your favorite show...
  • I am the terror that flaps in the night, I am the onion that stings your eye ...
  • I am the terror that flaps in the night, I am the hairball that clogs your drains...
  • I am the terror that flaps in the night, I am the smoke that smokes smoked oysters ...
  • I am the terror that flaps in the night, I am the little mouse that eats your cheese ...

GameBoy Advance SP: The best way to play GameBoy, GameBoy Color and GameBoy Advance Games. Make sure you grab the AGS-101 model number.

Darkwing Duck Level Select Screen: Launchpad presents Darkwing with three level options in the first screen. Make it through these and another three possibility are shown. The seventh and final level is shown only after clearing the first six stages.

Darkwing Duck First Level: Darkwing clammers up scaffolding to leap over a Dagger Duck. 

Leap of Faith: This particular jump on level one gave me fits. If you try to leap from where you first land you'll never make it. You have to short hop onto the end of the hook in order to make it to the next rope.

The First Boss: As with many platformers, once you figure out the pattern it's a simple task to take out Quackerjack and then march on to eliminate the rest of F.O.W.L.

Useful Links

Retro Game Rankings: No Quarters to Four Quarters. It should be noted, that although the going price of an arcade game was a single quarter when many of these games first came out, I feel that true retro game fans would be willing to pay a little bit more to capture the glory of playing some of the truly great ones one more time.