In mid-March, Capcom released the first trailer for their new compilation, the Disney Afternoon Collection. Debuting on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on April 18, 2017, this new compilation brings some classic (and not so classic) games from Capcom’s NES era back to life. This is a pure play for nostalgic gamers, who remember the Disney Afternoon block of television shows that aired in the late 80s and early 90s. Duck Tales, Darkwing Duck, Rescue Rangers and TaleSpin were fun shows that grabbed young audiences and refused to let go. They all had catchy theme songs (a must for the period), and fun and engaging characters and adventures. Capcom developed six games to help capitalize on the immense popularity of these shows, all with varying results. Now, over twenty-three years since the latest game in this collection came out, they return to consoles and PC.
The games in Disney Afternoon Collection are TaleSpin, Duck Tales, Duck Tales 2, Rescue Rangers, Rescue Rangers 2 and Darkwing Duck. While it’s a lot of content, the second Rescue Rangers and Duck Tales games aren’t quite as well known as the first games in each series, and TaleSpin is a game that feels like it’s often forgotten. The sequels to Rescue Rangers and Duck Tales don’t feel like they’re different enough from the first games, and at times feel like they were rushed into production, with gameplay that doesn’t do much different from the first instalments, and graphics that don’t seem as sharp. The big releases here are Duck Tales, Rescue Rangers and Darkwing Duck, and they are definitely the best-designed games in the collection. There are some fun extras included in this release, as you can listen to the soundtracks to each game, including 8-bit versions of each game’s theme song. There are some fun historical pieces, showcasing original ads for the games, as well as artwork that show the materials that Capcom had access to from Disney when originally designing and creating the games. These inclusions are particularly interesting from an historical perspective.
For better or for worse, Disney Afternoon Collection is an excellent representation of what made these games so beloved and enjoyed, not to mention frustrating for gamers. The game boasts a simple and easy to navigate menu, and varying choices in terms of presentation. If you want the visuals to look as much like the original NES version as possible, you can definitely achieve that. In fact, it reminded me of the now discontinued NES Classic, which had similar options in terms of filters that could be enabled. The controls are responsive, and accurate as well, keeping true to the original titles’ feel. The biggest change is one that is completely optional, although its mere existence might bother and annoy some NES purists. When playing through the six games in this compilation, you’re able to employ a rewind feature, which will allow players to reverse time in the game, and take back a wrong step or move. In theory, this could make it very hard to actually die in the game. From a purist standpoint, I don’t particularly like this, as it takes away part of what made these games difficult and challenging in the first place (admittedly, at times punishingly so). Now, with the ability to rewind and redo trouble areas, it makes the game a lot easier, taking away a vital part of what made these games so beloved in the first place. Yet, it also makes the games more playable and enjoyable, particularly for gamers who have been coddled somewhat with more modern games which are far less punishing and exacting than classic NES titles.
The regular story modes are present from the original releases of the game, but in addition, players are able to do time attack and boss rush modes which are timed and have leaderboards to challenge yourself with. This additional playability to the games is a welcome addition.
Disney Afternoon Collection is a nice idea for a nostalgic collection of games, and I’m glad that Capcom put them all together in one packaged release. The additional game modes are a nice extra to include, and the ability to save games is particularly appreciated. The addition of the new rewind feature does make these games a bit more playable, and not as hard or punishing (specifically Duck Tales), but it does take something away from the original games. That being said, it’s an optional feature, and easily ignored for those who prefer to play the games as they were originally intended. If anything, Disney Afternoon Collection made me hope that someday Duck Tales Remastered will be rereleased for next-gen systems, but until then, this is a solid way to play. The price point is a little higher than I would have initially expected, but it still averages out to $4.50/game in the collection. It does make me curious why they decided to go this route rather than releasing the games separately, but I suppose TaleSpin and the two sequels may not have sold that well on their own, compared to the higher profit margin of bundling all the games together in one collection. For those with fond memories of either the original games or the television shows they are based, Disney Afternoon Collecton is a nice nostalgic addition to your gaming library.