When they were originally released for the Nintendo Entertainment System, most of the games included in the Disney Afternoon Collection were popular at the time and are fondly remembered today. And some are still fun, especially with the new Rewind feature that takes the edge off the difficulty by letting you instantly reverse your errors. Even so, this is a collection aimed squarely at fans of old-fashioned platformers that makes little effort to update them for modern conventions.
Although there’s a stigma around licensed games now, the Disney Afternoon Collection’s six games were designed by Capcom at its 2D height, right alongside greats like Mega Man 2 and Bionic Commando. And you can really feel the ‘90s Capcom magic: These games are universally beautiful, feature great music, and, despite the kiddy licenses, can be really challenging. The talented team that resurrected old ROMs for the Mega Man Legacy Collection have outdone themselves once again, with perfect emulation that looks great on new TVs. Both the aforementioned Rewind feature and an ability to save once (but only once per game!) can help you get through the tougher areas. This wizard-level tool even plays the music in reverse (no hidden messages discovered – yet).
Since there are six games, let’s take a quick look at each, in order from best to worst.
DuckTales is one of the best platformers ever made. Its cane-bouncing twist encourages exploration with tons of hidden secrets and large, multi-path levels. It’s kind of like a simplified Metroid, with ducks and pogo sticks. DuckTales famously includes some of the best music of the 8-bit era, with tunes that belong on your ultimate NES mixtape alongside Mega Man 3 and Castlevania. DuckTales is beloved enough to have received the remake treatment few years back — but the original, as preserved here in its original pixels, is easier on my retro-loving eyes.
DuckTales 2 is a scarcely distributed NES game that most people probably missed in 1993 (Super Mario World had been out for two years!), and it’s a suitable sequel. With even more exploration required than the first to piece together hidden map pieces and unlock a secret ending, the only thing DuckTales 2 lacks is a killer soundtrack.
Chip & Dale: Rescue Rangers
Rescue Rangers was a hit back in the day because, like Contra and Bubble Bobble, it featured co-op multiplayer, which was a novelty at the time. Unlike DuckTales, there’s nothing to explore or unlock here, but it’s still an absolute blast. With Player 1 given control over the Rewind feature, chaos ensues: While you can still pick up the other player and toss them in a pit for yucks, you can now reverse that decision and save a friendship — or make him or her relive the moment forever.
Chip & Dale: Rescue Rangers 2
Rescue Rangers 2 is another game that you probably haven’t played because it was released in 1994, the year the PlayStation came out in Japan. Most people weren’t playing 8-bit games by that point. It doesn’t hold up as well as DuckTales’ sequel: With two players you can breeze through it, since there are few puzzles and no real challenge aside from bosses.
Darkwing Duck is like a Mega Man game if you removed all the fun levels and interesting weapon variety. You are basically stuck with a weapon resembling Mega Man’s dinky mega blaster while you save your special weapon pickups for the surprisingly brutal boss fights. It’s slower-paced than DuckTales or Rescue Rangers, and even the Rewind feature can’t make shooting the same enemies over and over, one sad shot at a time, any fun.
Finally, there’s TaleSpin, the hardest game in the bunch. It’s sidescrolling shooter that allows you to turn around at any time, which is a cool twist. The Rewind feature helps you survive, but even with control over time itself the bullet-crammed boss fights can be enraging.
In addition to these six games you get some extras, like a Boss Rush mode with leaderboards. Perhaps the coolest bonus feature for my fellow NES historians (hi!) are galleries of design documents, rare posters, and trivia. Strangely, the museum stuff reveals some of the Game Boy versions of these games, which are sadly not included in this collection.
The Disney Afternoon Collection
The Disney Afternoon Collection includes six classic retro Disney games by Capcom. Featured are Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers 2, Darkwing Duck, TaleSpin, DuckTales, and DuckTales 2.
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With three hits and three duds from Capcom/Disney years that you might remember with varying levels of fondness, the Disney Afternoon Collection is clearly aimed at children of the 90s. I have trouble seeing its appeal to anyone else. But if vintage duck-based platformers are your thing, grab a Capri Sun and a handful of Gushers and invite your friends over to play.