The Disney Afternoon Collection Review
If you were playing games back in the NES days, it's probably fair to assume you played at least one or two of the so-called Disney Afternoon games. These side-scrolling platformers took as their inspiration the cartoons featured in the Disney Afternoon programming block so many of us grew up with, and for a lot of us, the games are even more memorable than the shows themselves. In what seems like a no-brainer, Capcom has finally assembled these games into one must-have collection, and playing through them now is every bit as fun and challenging as it was nearly 30 years ago. If you had an NES, you played these games and you definitely need this collection in your library.
The Disney Afternoon Collection gives you six games from this classic era, with some better than others. You get Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers, Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers 2, DuckTales, DuckTales 2, Darkwing Duck and TaleSpin, which was always my favorite game - and show - of the bunch. Out of this group, the two that don't really bring a standing ovation from my nostalgic heart are the sequels, Chip and Dale 2 and DuckTales 2. Neither are bad games, but both lack that special something that made their original versions classics. The big four - Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers, DuckTales, Darkwing Duck and TaleSpin - are the attention-getters here, and each one plays as fantastically as you remember. DuckTales is probably going to be the number one most played game as it's the one most fondly remembered; it even got that stellar WayForward remake DuckTales: Remastered a few years ago. But for everything the remake added, there is something charming and appealing about playing the original, as it was originally presented. Everything about DuckTales, from the unconventional jump attack wielded by Scrooge McDuck to the graphics, bosses and especially the soundtrack, makes the game a classic and a shining example of 8-bit platforming.
The other games are no slouches, either. Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers still holds up; with the characters unable to directly attack enemies themselves, players used pickups to hurl at enemies, something that felt unique at the time (yes, Super Mario Bros. 2 was similar, but they felt different back then, OK?). Darkwing Duck played like a Mega Man game, with the caped superhero's blaster being his main method of attack. But out of all of them, TaleSpin was the most unique. Kind of like a side-scrolling shmup game, players took control of Baloo's Sea Duck cargo plane in flying left to right, blasting enemies and battling bosses. What made it unique, however, was the ability to do a 180 mid-air and turn around, a mechanic that made the game feel much less restricted than an auto-scrolling shooter. Each game in the Disney Afternoon Collection was amazing for its time, and they definitely all hold up quite well today, even for those who may not have on their nostalgia glasses.
If you've still got these old games and have managed to get your old systems working on newer TVs, is there anything extra here to entice you? Actually, yeah, and it's pretty great. Like other Capcom collections, the Disney Afternoon Collection seems to understand that these older games were fairly tough, so in this case, both a rewind feature and a save state feature have been added. The rewind ability is a great help for a missed jump, miscalculated boss attack or the damn phone ringing during a tough spot. The save state works equally well for coming back to a difficult segment later on, but each game only allows for one save state at a time. It's not the end of the world, but if you like your retro games to have multiple save states for skipping directly to your favorite bits (not that I know anyone who does that...), the single spot is a bit of a bummer. Still, if tough-as-nails platforming wasn't what got you into gaming, these concessions can be a great help in finishing these games.
Ancient gamer or not, the Disney Afternoon Collection gives you six decent-to-great retro platformers for a deeply discounted price, and that's really all I need to say. These games were fun then, they're just as fun now, providing a decent challenge and plenty of hours of Disney greatness for mere pennies. If running and jumping are as synonymous with gaming to you as they are to me, the Disney Afternoon Collection is more than a worthy download, it's a must-have.
Final Rating: 92% - Six decent-to-great retro platformers that aren't just for older gamers.