Say what you will about how great the Mega Man games are, but in my book, the very best Capcom titles of the NES era were the ones tied to Disney properties. For one, they just happened to make use of some of my favorite cartoons at the time, and boy, they were fun. Who would have thought playing as a cane-swinging septuagenarian trillionaire duck would be so great? Capcom did, apparently.
Back then, people weren’t as jaded as they are now in regards to licensed games, so anything coming in with a familiar brand on it would get eaten up even if they were the worst garbage ever to hit the market — I’m looking at you, LJN — but in Capcom’s case, they were fantastic, so much so that still to this day, decades later, those cartridges are among the most coveted and valued by collectors.
But fear not, the folks at Digital Eclipse have got us covered. We don’t have to brave eBay and the whatnot in search of an used copy of Duck Tales 2; instead, we can just play The Disney Afternoon Collection, which includes alongside both Duck Tales games the tough-as-nails Darkwing Duck, as well as Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers, its sequel and TaleSpin. Say what you will about that last one — I certainly can attest it wasn’t very good back then and it still isn’t these days — but the overall package is pretty damn impressive.
Seeing a re-release of Duck Tales in particular isn’t anything new, we got a beautiful remake only a couple of years ago, but this time, everything is as faithfully reproduced as they could ever be, short of basically reprinting the original carts and having you play them on your dusty Nintendo. The original games are as playable as they were back in the early nineties, and they look just as crisp in modern HDMI as they did then on your old CRT, thanks to the impeccable work done by Digital Eclipse.
And even if your memories of these games prove to be a match for their challenge, there are special features to beef up their replayability in the form of boss rush and time attack modes. They aren’t particularly noteworthy per se, but they’re done pretty well and help provide an extra incentive to jump back and hone your skills in each game, especially if you’re into online leaderboards. It’s also neat to have the collection keep track of your previous times and have you race against yourself as you continuously get better and faster.
As with their previous release, The Mega Man Legacy Collection, which also included the same leaderboard speedrunning modes, The Disney Afternoon Collection is also benefited by the inclusion of save states, which much like the grayer side of gaming, emulators, prove to be incredibly handy. The same goes for the entirety of this compilations presentation, which evokes the look and feel of Disney’s old TV block, as well as the sheer detail and colorfulness of the recompiled cover art for every single game, not to mention the surprising amount of concept art tucked away and accessible a button press away.
In case you’re coming in fresh to any of this retro goodness, or if you don’t fancy yourself an expert at any or all of them, there’s also a rewind button that does what its name implies, shifting you as far back as needed, so in case you find yourself in a pinch, you can easily hop back to an earlier moment in the game. While on one hand this might be extremely useful to younger players and those looking to play these more casually, there’s a certain sense of accomplishment when finishing them without making use of this toggle, as they “used to be” as it were. Add to that the fact that none of the games in this collection is long at all, the longest clocking in at a little more than an hour and change from start to finish (less if you know their optimal routes).
For all intent and purposes, The Disney Afternoon Collection is a worthy addition to any retro gaming fan’s library. Considering that licenses expire pretty quickly when it comes to Disney, it’s a good idea to pick this one up while it’s available. Digital Eclipse’s lovingly meticulous work is to be lauded. They did their best to keep these games as close to what they were back when they were new, and gosh darned it, they totally are still incredibly playable and fun to hop into for a few minutes or for even longer. Personally, I would have loved to see even more of the Disney NES and even SNES-era games, so with any luck, (and if this sells well), maybe we’ll get to see more of these compilations making their way to our hard drives!