When people think of Capcom, the games they associate with the developer largely depends on the age of the gamer. To me, Capcom is forever associated with Street Fighter 2 – which I once spent £110 on buying a Japanese cartridge and adapter for my Super Nintendo – and to a lesser degree, Resident Evil and Dino Crisis. In recent years, they have more or less turned into a Street Fighter/Resident Evil production line. What I wouldn’t give for a new Dino Crisis game!

What a lot of people don’t remember is that back in the early 1990s, Capcom did a lot of Disney tie-in games, ranging from Duck Tales to Chip ‘n Dale, via TaleSpin and Darkwing Duck, all based on the tea time cartoons that were seemingly omnipresent at the time. These games were, like nearly all the TV and movie tie-ins of the time, mostly side scrolling platform affairs, with the sole exception being TaleSpin, which is a side scrolling shooter, with an element of platforming. With games ranging from 1989 to 1993, originally released on the NES, Capcom have decided that now is the time for a retrospective collection to be released. The big question is whether time has been kind to these games, or should they have stayed a dim and distant memory?

The conversion has been handled by a company called Digital Eclipse, who were also responsible for The Mega Man Legacy Collection back in 2015. Apparently the success of that title has led inexorably to the release of the Disney Collection, which is also riding the wave of retro enthusiasm that is prevalent at the moment. The Disney Afternoon Collection is built using the studio’s Eclipse Engine, which is able to take the original NES ROM code, decompile it and then rebuild it in a virtual machine that has been built for modern systems.

What this means in effect is that the game we can play on our Xbox One these days is identical to the original NES cartridge, even down to the kind of “flash” that appears on the screen when you start one of the games, which I remember from the old days as happening when the power switch was flicked. Obviously, the company have taken the time to include various display modes in the games, from the original 4:3 layout with borders on the screen right up a wide screen layout that makes the game full screen, but doesn’t turn it into a blocky mess!

Seeing these old school games at full screen on my 42″ telly was a revelation, and was a real flashback to the days when these would fill the whole screen. It even made my six year old son stop playing Mario Kart on his Wii U to watch, and if there’s a higher recommendation than that for the graphics, I don’t know what it is.

Loading the Disney Afternoon Collection up, with suitably retro music playing on the title screen, the first choice you face is which game to play. They are arrayed in date of release order, so first up is Duck Tales from 1989, Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers from 1990, TaleSpin from 1991, Darkwing Duck from 1992, and the 1993 offerings of DuckTales 2 and Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers 2.

Starting at the beginning, I sallied forth as Scrooge McDuck to try and recover my fortune. And boy oh boy, was I in for a rude awakening. With the best will in the world, games these days are easier than they were back in the day. I realise this will be somewhat controversial, but all it takes is a game collection like this to make you realise that is true. Absolutely pixel perfect jumps, absolutely critical timing and a large amount of luck are needed to make it anywhere in these games. There are finite lives, and finite continues, and if you run out, tough luck. Its game over, man, game over! The controls are perfectly judged, being tight and responsive, so sadly the failure to progress in these games is mine and mine alone.

Checkpoints are available throughout, for instance when playing Chip ‘n Dale each screen scrolls until you reach the end, then a new screen is loaded and the process begins again. If you die, you are sent back to the start of the latest screen you have got to, so it feels fairly good and the pressure is eased somewhat. However, if you lose all your lives and are forced to use a continue, the game puts you all the way back to the beginning. Right the way back. I had forgotten how brutal this mechanic can be. It can be soul crushing, but the gameplay is so perfectly balanced that the deaths don’t feel cheap or unfair, and it serves to spur you on to do better.

Graphically, each of these games look as good as they ever did, which is a testament to the accuracy of the conversion. Being a port of some 8-bit titles from over 20 years ago, the graphics aren’t going to set the world on fire, but you have to respect the amount of character that Capcom were able to impart to each character given the restrictions of the NES. When Scrooge McDuck or Darkwing Duck dies, you can almost feel the pain they are feeling with the faces they pull, all the more so when the screen is upscaled to modern sizes. The sound effects and music are all present and correct also, right down to every last bleep and blip. Add to this a story that is set at the beginning of each game via static screens and text, and the trip back to the ‘90s is complete.

These games then are all platformers, as I mentioned earlier, except TaleSpin which is a side scrolling shooter, as you fly Baloo’s plane to try and deliver cargo and avoid Sky Pirates. Weirdly, there are even platform elements in this, as there are things to collect that may be next to a wall, or between pillars on the screen. If you get stuck behind a pillar and the screen catches you up, you lose a life. There’s a real risk/reward mechanic going on, so you have to judge if you have time to get down, grab the goodies and get out again before dying. You have to judge the timing of your shots as well, as this isn’t a bullet hell shooter and the rate of fire seems incredibly slow. Once you adjust to the speed however, it’s possible to make good progress through the levels. Possible, but still not easy, as the same finite lives and continues are present and correct here as well.

In addition to the story mode playthroughs, there are other options for each game that you can choose. There is a Time Attack mode, which does exactly what it says on the tin, and also a Boss Rush mode, where you can just take on the bosses from the game one after the other.

Each game also comes with an on-screen manual, explaining the ins and outs of each title in an easy to understand, colourful way. This also includes what the buttons do, but they are largely limited to “A to jump, X to attack” so remembering them isn’t exactly taxing. Controlling the on screen character can be done either with the left analogue stick or the D-pad, and it does feel more time period correct to use the D-pad. The bumpers are also pressed into use, with the left bumper giving a crucial rewind feature, which has saved my bacon on more than one occasion. The right bumper is a pause button, bringing up a menu that allows you change the display mode, button layout and more. The rewind mechanic is a life saver, but in order to get the achievements for the titles in this collection, the games must be completed without using the rewind feature. It is another testament to the challenge that these games bring that this is the first game that I have ever reviewed that I haven’t got any of the achievements in, which is a source of shame for someone who classes himself as a bit of an achievement hunter.

In conclusion then, The Disney Afternoon Collection is a perfect conversion of the originals, so if you are a fan of super hard retro gaming, this will be right up your street. For everyone else, the pure, unadulterated gameplay that goes into these titles should be the main hook. They aren’t the last word in graphics, but control and challenge wise they are bang on. If you find Dark Souls a bit too easy, here’s the game you should try next.


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