Tag Archives: ducktales

FGC #276 Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers

Zip alongMuscle memory is a hell of a drug.

While I’ve become something of a videogame glutton over the years (now celebrating my 70th purchase of a port of Tetris), when I was a wee Goggle Bob, my inventory was severely limited. If memory serves, by the time the Nintendo was being retired (which, reminder for you young’uns, the NES kept on trucking well after the release of the SNES, as companies didn’t quite know when to stop back in the day), I owned a whopping thirty NES games, and considered that dirty thirty to be more NES games than anyone would ever need. After all, I had Mega Man 1, 2, and 6, why would I need anything else?

But the flipside to this titanic collection was the rolling “neighborhood” games. I was a Nintendo kid, and my best friend was a Nintendo kid, and that one guy down the street was a Nintendo kid, and… you get the idea. We had our collected collections, and, pooling our resources, we created a sort of neighborhood library of Nintendo cartridges. Ultimately, it was no different from trading baseball cards or…. What do kids today play with?… Pogs? It was just like trading pogs, only with videogames, and, ya know, there was a significant expectation that you’d get the game back. And if not, then it was time to tell mom, because I wasn’t the one that blew fifty bucks on Wizards and Warriors 2. And speaking of mom, it was clear the parents of the neighborhood were on to our little NES black market, so it was very common for birthdays and Christmases to see complimentary games across the region. I got Ducktales, and Jon got Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers. And when we’re both done, guess what’s going to happen? Trading time!

Of course, not all games are created equal.

Ducktales is a great game, but it’s a “kiddie” Disney game, and I have always been a totally, radically mature soul. So, right before Christmas, I changed my vote, claimed Ducktales was stupid, and convinced my parents (errr… Santa Claus) to purchase some other Nintendo game. I want to say it was TMNT: The Arcade Game, but it’s entirely possible it was any other videogame on Earth. Unfortunately, my best friend Jon’s parents didn’t get the memo (or didn’t care), so he still wound up with the “matching” Chip ‘n Dale. This, I figured in my young mind, was fortuitous, as it meant I got to play excellent Disney Capcom gaming just as easily when he was inevitably done with the game and I’d borrow it away to my Nintendo. Everybody wins! The only hang-up was a few months later when I discovered that he wasn’t ever going to let it go.

MeowChip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers is a two player co-op game. What’s more, it’s a two player co-op 2-D sidescroller on the NES, meaning it was released at a time when that kind of thing was almost completely unheard of. If you think about it, that’s really weird, as 2-D sidescrollers were all over the place, but I guess Super Mario Bros. was 2 player alternating, so that’s what everyone aped. In a way, this made CnDRR a magical unicorn in a field full of tubby cow ponies. But even more than that shining bit of rarity, CnDRR was just plain fun, and it was just as fun to play with a buddy as it was to play alone. Yes, two player “cooperative” might lead to a few more deaths by Chip scrolling Dale right off the screen, but it also meant instant respawning, which was fairly essential in some of the later stages/bosses. This all Voltroned together to make CnDRR the first “Smash Bros.” in my memory: if we were getting together (what today might be referred to as a “play date”), we were going to play Chip ‘n Dale, because it was fun for the whole (two people) gang. It didn’t matter if it was a joyous Saturday afternoon or ten minutes after Great Aunt Bernie’s funeral, it was time to hurl red balls at Fat Cat.

So the good news was that we had found a fun game that was going to dominate all of our play time for at least the next year, but the bad news was that Jon was going to continue to be the keeper of Chip ‘n Dale, and I could borrow the cartridge roughly around the same time that Monterey Jack gives up cheese. So I, poor wee Goggle Bob, was forced to only play this excellent game at Jon’s house, and never in the relaxing luxury of my own basement. Mine was a harsh childhood.

But this lead to an unusual phenomena.

Out!As previously mentioned, I had a collection of Nintendo games as a child. And, as you might expect, I am very good at these games. I’m not breaking any speedrun scores or however we judge Nintendo skill, but I’m pretty sure I can clear Quick Man’s stage on one life (don’t hold me to that). That said, many of the games from my childhood collection, whether through nostalgia or some manner of drive to learn the classics, I have played and re-experienced as an adult. To use Mega Man 2 as an example again, I’m likely to replay through the entire Mega Man franchise at least once a year, and most of the time that isn’t even because they just released yet another Mega Man collection. It’s just one of those things that happens, like an inexplicable urge to once again conquer Giant’s Imaginary Hallway in Final Fantasy.

But that never happened for Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers. Maybe it was because I played it so much in my childhood (and it’s not exactly a complicated game), or maybe it was a side effect of always considering the game to be “kiddy”, but, one way or another, I never really got back around to playing CnDRR. I don’t feel like this is something I have to apologize for, I mean, there are other games on my backlog that have been sitting unplayed since the late 90’s (I’ll complete you one day, Castlevania 64)… Though, on the other hand, I do feel a little bit of guilt at not playing a game that had so completely ruled my childhood. What’s that? There’s a new Disney Afternoon Collection by the same folks behind the most recent Mega Man collection? And it’s available now? Oh, let’s do this thing.

And that’s about when I learned that that game you played over and over when you were seven might just stick in your brain.

YummyI plowed through Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers in about twenty minutes. I didn’t get hit at all during the first stage. The majority of the bosses (save that damn caterpillar) never touched Chip. Gadget was rescued, Fat Cat was trounced, and the day was saved, once again, by the indomitable Rescue Rangers. Also, I got that P bottle, and I’m still not completely sure what that does.

And… should I be surprised? I haven’t played the game for twenty years (low estimate!), but it’s like riding a bicycle (sidenote: bad simile, as I am terrible at riding a bicycle. Don’t ask). I didn’t think videogame “skills” were that pervasive in my unconscious mind, but, just like I can still open my high school locker in a few twists (assuming they haven’t changed the combination in fifteen years), I can beat Chip ‘n Dale inside of an hour. One whole game condensed to some part of my brain that will always remember exactly when to duck into a box. My conscious mind boggles.

Muscle memory: horrifying and useful.

FGC #276 Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers

  • System: NES, and now, against all odds, available on the Playstation 4, Xbone, and PC. Yay!
  • Number of players: Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers.
  • Favorite Boss: Even though I usually skip his stage, this really is the game where Mega Man X3’s Volt Catfish got his start. Bless you, Capcom, and your unending reserves of electric catfish.
  • ChuggaUseless powers: Also, that same stage includes “the raft” and a hammer that may be used to clobber your way through dirt blocks. That makes two completely unique items in a completely skippable stage. What was going on there?
  • Chip or Dale: I always choose Chip, as he is the leader. And he has a cool hat. I decided to go with Dale for the FGC article, though, in the name of trying (absolutely not really) new things.
  • Further Childhood Memories: I remember being at Disney World when I was like five, and I asked my dad how to tell the difference between Chip and Dale. He replied that there was no way to do that, they’re just chipmunks, move on. Then a helpful Disney employee explained that Chip has a black nose “like a chocolate chip.” I was impressed with this knowledge, but even more than that, I remember my traditionally stoic father lighting up like an enthusiastic Christmas tree at this new information. See? You’re never too old to learn new facts about chipmunks.
  • Did you know? The flowers are supposed to provide 1-Ups after every 50 pickups (according to the manual), but it actually requires the more NES standard 100. There’s apparently a beta version of CnD floating around out there, though, where the fifty thing stays true. I can understand the change, at least, not like this game needed to be easier.
  • Would I play again? Probably! Just might take another twenty years. Let’s see how good I am at this game then.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the 3DS! Coins! All the coins for Mario! Please look forward to it!

DAMN BOXES

FGC #198 DuckTales: Remastered

This game is radI don’t usually talk about a game’s music on this blog. The reasons for this are three-fold: One, I traditionally play the featured game, take a day or two to “digest” the experience, and then write. While I’m usually cutting through the video of the game at that time to make screenshots and gifs, I’m rarely actually re-listening to the music/sound at that time. As a result, unless the music is really memorable, I’m not really thinking about it while I write the article. Two, while I’m writing the article in question, I’m usually listening to my “work mix” of 6,000 or so MP3s, so, unless the game is already on my playlist, it’s not really in my head. This doesn’t apply to every game, because, completely randomly, Bloody Tears is on my Winamp (yes, seriously) as I write this right now. Go fig. And, finally, I try not to discuss the music too much on this blog because the blog is not an auditory medium. I’ve got gifs and such to remind everyone how a game looks in motion, but, short of embedding a midi into the article, the best I can do with music is throw out a basic, “hey, remember that one song?” This does occasionally make its way to the bullet point section of any given article, but even that is usually something of an afterthought.

All that said, after nearly 200 articles, I figure I can write one article about a game’s music.

Fly me to the moon, it’s time to talk about ducks exploring the lunar surface.

AlleyoopDuckTales was kind of inevitably part of my childhood. In this case, I’m talking about the series and the videogame, which, at the time, combined to be one of the few franchises that actually made sense on television and videogame console. Hey, you love Back to the Future, right? Well here’s a completely bonkers videogame version that involves bowling. What about bloody slasher Friday the 13th? Well get ready to pelt zombies with rocks! And it wasn’t any better when a mascot went in the other direction: the most groundbreaking platformer in history somehow turned into a show that closely followed the Bozo/Krusty the Clown formula, and the courageous and mute Link of the NES became an attitude-riddled teen in his animated incarnation. It took a few years, but we did finally get that Sonic the Hedgehog series where he was the forsaken prince of a kingdom and played in a rock band with his royal siblings. Point is that when the Disney Afternoon finally started churning out videogames, its offerings were actually related to the source material, and Monterey Jack or Darkwing Duck would actually be the same characters and do the same things whether or not someone hooked up a controller.

So both DuckTales and Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers were integral parts of my childhood, because I watched the shows every afternoon, and played the matching games whenever available. I actually didn’t own either game, but one of my super best friends (the same kid I “saved” in The Legend of Zelda) owned both, and, yes, there was a lot of 2-player Chip ‘n Dale action. But DuckTales got its share of play, too, because, even as a one player game, there was a lot of… audience participation during our play sessions. “No, you butthead, go over there, get the diamonds! Don’t jump on the treasure chest, that’s how you get… oh, now you have to do the CHOMPlevel over. Give me the controller, you suck!” … Hm I wonder why I don’t hang out with my childhood friends anymore…

Anyone that has ever played DuckTales knows that it’s a Capcom game that, like Mega Man, offers an opening stage select. This was a tremendous boon for us Nintendo kids, because, thanks to difficulty and underdeveloped attention spans, it was a rarity to see the later levels of any given NES game. A game that started with “here ya go, take your pick” was always welcome, because it meant you could actually see almost the entirety of a game without having to restart on Level One 12,000,000,000 times. So you might think, with five options available, we’d be all over playing any and every level.

We weren’t. We only played Moon. We only went for the cheese.

There probably are multiple reasons for this. Amazon has a very “grass world/level 1” vibe, and who wants to start on a basic stage when there are more interesting options? Duckuvania and The Mines both required some focused level searching to bypass various locks, so screw that noise. And the Himalayas had that blasted snow that hampered your pogo attack. The pogo cane was the second best thing about the game! Why is there an entire level that destroys it!?

YAYBut there was always the moon level, and that got played a lot. I couldn’t tell you why, exactly. Maybe it was the space environment that seemed more fantastic than any vampire castles or journeys to the center of the Earth. Maybe it was pounding on aliens, which is always a good time. Or maybe it was simply that ten second cameo from Gizmoduck. Or maybe, just maybe, it was the fact that DuckTales’ Moon features the best music in the game, and, arguably, all of the NES.

I am not a “music” guy. I have been in orchestral and rock bands, I have written songs, and I have, on occasion, been a human beat box. But still, throughout the years, I have never really understood what “works” in music. I can watch Youtube videos explaining the differences between minor and major keys all day, and, still, I can’t tell you, from a musical perspective, what makes any given song better than another. I am entirely a subjective music listener, and, aside from “I generally like pianos”, I can’t really describe why my favorite songs are my favorite songs.

So, uh, just believe me when I say that the DuckTales NES Moon theme is the best thing ever.

And it somehow gets better! Against all odds, a licensed game based on a cartoon property from the 80’s got a remake in the 21st Century thanks to a bunch of dedicated nerds. Capcom and Wayforward (with seemingly an emphasis on the latter) worked together with Disney to bring back the NES DuckTales game in the form of a magnificent “HD remaster”. The whole “remaster” thing seemed like a misnomer, as this was practically an entirely new game. There’s a whole new overarching plot, dialogue, and two levels. And what has returned from the original is now gorgeous with hand drawn sprites and updated level layouts. And one of the Beagle Boys gets a new hat!

No swimming musicBut the remastered music is what got my attention. The music was composed by Jake Kaufman, a man who, by his own admission, was a giant fan of the original. “”I’ve heard this stuff in my head, as arrangements, since I was 10, so I knew exactly what to do…” That sounds about right. I reiterate that I am absolutely not a music guy, and I don’t know how to describe this, but Kaufman nailed the moon theme (and every other song, but that’s neither here nor there). Whatever Moon was trying to do on its tiny little NES speaker was taken to new, otherworldly heights on DuckTales: Remastered, and, for the first time ever in a videogame, when I first reached the moon stage on my initial play of DuckTales: Remastered, I put down my controller, and just listened. I’m pretty sure I bought the soundtrack about ten minutes later. Then I hit Continue because I accidentally let Scrooge get killed by aliens. I was distracted!

DuckTales: Remastered made a great thing even greater. This description could be applied to the entire game, but for me, it’s always going to come back to the Moon. Who says there’s no sound in space?

FGC #198 DuckTales: Remastered

  • System: WiiU, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3 for the initial release. It also found its way to various computers and cell phones. There’s even a physical release! I own it!
  • Number of players: You have to be smarter than the smarties and tougher than the toughies, so there really isn’t room for more than one.
  • Favorite stage: Did you read the article?
  • Spooky!You know, you could have linked to the actual song in question somewhere around here: Oh, like you don’t know how to find Youtube. Teach a man to fish for songs!
  • Just play the gig, man: Oh! And the moon theme became a persistent leitmotif throughout the other stages. That’s pretty awesome!
  • Favorite boss: My one complaint about the Remake is that it makes the bosses very “stage-y” with repeated patterns and long periods of invincibility (i.e. why is that boss hiding in the background again). That said, I do like the Magica De Spell fight, because it’s hectic, varied, and occasionally drops some ice cream. Everybody loves ice cream!
  • Did you know? Alan Young and June Foray reprised their vocal roles as Scrooge McDuck and Magica De Spell for this game. They were born in 1919 and 1917, respectively. When they were born, there was barely the concept of “video”, left alone a “videogame”.
  • Would I play again: Yes, while anxiously awaiting that Chip ‘n Dale remake.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Tetris Blast for the Gameboy! It’s like a regular block game, but with more explosions! Please look forward to it!

Shakes
This still makes me nervous

Xenosaga Episode II Part 09: Explosive Revelations

Previously on Xenosaga: Orgulla’s long, sad story came to a close as she fell in battle attempting to repel invaders on behalf of her beloved Patriarch. Orgulla may no longer be with us, but The Brews ventured on to Old Miltia, each party member doing their best to deal with the blood now on their collective hands.

Ziggy is here because he’s never been to Old Miltia before, and thought it might be neat.

Alright, so this is the big lie everyone is going to tell over and over again this update. If you recall, the introductory dungeon of Xenosaga Episode 2 took place during the Miltian Conflict, at the capital, roughly hours before Old Miltia plinked out of existence. Remember what that looked like.

Super duper wrong.

chaos hasn’t said… anything… in a while, so he decides to wax philosophical about the mythical land of Mu, an area best known for appearing in the prequel to Xenosaga, Ducktales 2.

This is a lot more accurate than this whole “it looks exactly the same” thing.

chaos makes reference to Mu being “sacrificed”, and Shion agrees that that’s the general gist of this area. She’s more right than she knows…