Sunday 14 November 2021

Disney's Darkwing Duck (NES review)

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Released: 1992

Disney's Darkwing Duck is a platform game that was later ported to the Nintendo Game Boy in 1993.

It consists of seven stages and the objective is to stop the F.O.W.L. gang from seizing control of St. Canard. Your main weapon is a gas gun, but special weapons can be obtained that include Arrows, Heavy Gas (ground-based shock waves) and Thunder (2 x bolts). The stage design offers some decent variety in its locales and features some interesting layouts that see you traversing horizontally and vertically; however, the enemy types are repeated so often that the action never really advances beyond its initial concept in each level. Being able to select from three stages at a time is a great idea though, as while it helps aide strategy it also allows inexperienced players to see further into the game. The difficulty curve is wildly inconsistent and bizarrely the main stages are often frustratingly challenging (due to spaced out checkpoints and enemies being total bullet sponges), while the bosses are a complete pushover with their uncomplicated attack patterns. The controls are also incredibly stiff and at times Darkwing ignores your buttons presses entirely. I also don't like how you have to come to a complete standstill in order to shoot, as it frequently leaves you in compromising positions. The defensive manoeuvre of using your cape as a shield is inspired though and leads to some interesting hide-and-seek style attack battles. The special weapons are a mixed bag, as while some (e.g. Heavy Gas) are very useful against tough ground-based foes, others (e.g. Thunder) are more of a hindrance as the level design often works against its usefulness once collected (therein making items seem randomly placed).

Disney's Darkwing Duck might be enjoyable to those who like the Mega Man series of titles on the NES, but others will likely find it more frustrating than fun due to its often unfair challenge. It has a few interesting moments in its stage design, but overall it mostly consists of forgettable layouts and recurrent enemy types. 

Random trivia: The music in the credits sequence appears in truncated form, but can be listened to fully here.

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