My childhood has never been “ruined.” People have taken old properties that I love and screwed them up royally, but no one actively went back and time and changed the plot of the original Ghostbusters or Transformers. The same can be said for video games as people complain about retro titles getting a relaunch and how they’re tweaked from system to system. Everyone’s got a beef with the controls or the graphics or even the soundtrack. But when someone gets it right, it’s the biggest bowl of mental comfort food you could ever receive. The same could be said for our 16-bit adventure back through time as we explore Capcom’s The Disney Afternoon Collection.
Back in the day, this afternoon cartoon black was the place to be after school. You’d rush to do your homework while at school or on the way home so you could sit in front of the TV and enjoy DuckTales, Chip n’Dale: Rescue Rangers, Darkwing Duck and more. The shows didn’t get much better than beyond the glory days of the early ’90s, and when Disney stopped airing these shows in favor of putting them on the Disney Channel, it felt like the end of an era. During this time, Disney and Capcom had a working deal to produce games based off the shows, and we got several games out of their partnership for the original NES. Some great, some good, and some you rented at the video store because that’s all they had.
After seeing the success of 2015’s Mega Man Legacy Collection, which was an awesome title that gave you the first six NES Mega Man games, Disney and Capcom (who have earned a reputation for not playing well with others on occasion) came together for a new partnership. Capcom was able to take all the old game data and give it to Digital Eclipse to port those assets to modern consoles with some new additions. The Disney Afternoon Collection comes with a total of six games: DuckTales, DuckTales 2, Darkwing Duck, TaleSpin, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers, and Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers 2.
Having played these with my sister and friends growing up, I can attest that they are the exact games we used to play, all the way down to the frustrating deaths and weird platform moments where you don’t know exactly where to jump. And for those who are paranoid about having their childhood “ruined,” this is not like DuckTales Remastered from 2013. You’re playing the original games as intended like you just slid them into the console and pushed the power button. There’s a handy menu for a number of things, like adjusting the controls and customizing the buttons in case you don’t like which ones you’re pressing, or listening to the complete soundtrack for all of these games.
Game wise, you’re dealing with a small collection that has its ups and downs in The Disney Afternoon Collection. The two gems of the set are DuckTales and Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers—both for their creative style to platformers, their lovely soundtracks and the ease you have to become good at the game while still having a large challenge in front of you. The two middle games of the bunch are Darkwing Duck and Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers 2—DD is here because even with its interesting game mechanics and unique art style for the era, the difficulty can become frustrating and leave a lot of players stranded between Level 2 and 3; while RR2 feels like a clone of the original with a cleaner style and a different story, essentially not improving much or changing anything from the first.
The two at the bottom of the pile are (in order) DuckTales 2 and TaleSpin. DT2 is here because the game is shorter than the first and is more difficult, along with the fact that the controls are a bit stiff. TaleSpin sits at the bottom of the list because while it is well-designed, it’s basically a side-scrolling shooter that slows down at the worst times (which also made it to this port), weird patterns to enemies and a bad storyline. That being said… even TaleSpin is a good game compared to half of the original NES library. So while it and DT2 sit at the bottom of the list, keep in mind that there are a lot worse titles you could be playing from that era.
The bonuses you get with these are simply awesome. First, there’s a Boss Fight option, where you can pick a boss from whatever game and try to beat it. A fine necessity for speed runners that was fun to try out. Then there’s Time Attack where you’re just trying to beat a level as quickly as possible. But the best option is the Rewind option. Much like old VHS recording, you can go back and try an area again if you screw up. Didn’t see an enemy coming? Now you can go back a few seconds and try it again. An option the Mega Man version didn’t have, while 10-year-old me is screaming from the past wishing this existed back then. There’s also a bunch of concept art, American and Japanese boxes, promos and unseen art that have been included in a gallery that is fun to look over.
The Disney Afternoon Collection is a must-own for old-school gamers, down to the 16-bit music from the block itself. Much like the Mega Man version from a few years ago, these are titles with nostalgia and history to them that will evoke emotion and bring you back to a special time for both companies. What’s more, if you have kids, this is a great introduction to the era and these shows without having to explain your age or their relevance. I don’t have a single complaint about it, as even the worst moments on here are coated in nostalgic sugar. If you have any fondness for these games or shows, I highly recommend seeking it out.
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