For kids who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, like myself, the Disney Afternoon animation block was a staple of post-school activities. It was no surprise then that many of those popular franchises made the jump to video game consoles. Some of these games bring back fond memories of side-scrolling platforming, while others are stark reminders of the brutal difficulty of those old games. The Disney Afternoon Collection includes remastered versions of Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers, Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers 2, Darkwing Duck, DuckTales, DuckTales 2 and TaleSpin for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.
Unlike the re-release of DuckTales in 2013 this newest collection doesn’t feature much in the way of graphical upgrades. Instead these are virtually straight ports of the original releases with only a few added bonuses. The most notable of these is the inclusion of a rewind feature which lets you backtrack as far as you want. There doesn’t seem to be any penalty to using this feature (except for one achievement/trophy for beating any game without using it), although it can’t be used in modes that have a leaderboard (time attack and boss rush). Time Attack is basically the games as they were originally released, with the bonus of leaderboards showing how fast your friends completed the games. Boss Rush is just a quick fight against all the bosses back-to-back, and is also timed for leaderboards. A nice feature is that you can watch the replay of other people’s Time Attacks and Boss Rushes if you want to see how they did it. In the main game (non-leaderboard) you can also save or load from any point in the games themselves, so you don’t have to beat the games in a single sitting anymore. Lastly there are extras available in the menu, such as being able to listen to music tracks (in their original, glorious MIDI form), view concept art and things like that. These are nice additions for the package, but mostly you’ll be wanting to focus on the games themselves.
The Disney Afternoon Collection is not faultless, however. Despite the age of the games I encountered several technical problems (mostly within DuckTales 1), and even had my PlayStation 4 completely lock up once. I believe these are issues with the games themselves which exist in the original versions, excluding the PlayStation itself crashing. However, I have to admit that seeing frame-rate issues in games that are 25+ years old is irritating and confusing. It probably would not have been too hard to fix these for a modern release. When you add in that some of these games require very precise timing at parts it can seriously impact gameplay. The rewind feature can alleviate this a little since you can back out of any unfair death that may result from them. You can choose to view them as being part of the authentic experience if you want, but that’s slippery ground.
Final Thoughts on The Disney Afternoon Collection:
I suspect that your interest in this product will largely depend on how much nostalgia you have for the original games. All of the individual titles are strong in their own ways, and they also have their own unique frustrations (especially Darkwing Duck and its insane difficulty curve). The rewind feature helps ease the pain, and paradoxically enough reveals just how short these games really are. Since the games didn’t originally have the ability to save progress that meant they were designed to be beaten in a few hours, and now even a novice can do that if they don’t mind ‘cheating’ with the rewind feature. Even if you didn’t grow up with these titles they are excellent examples of the Nintendo era side-scrollers (especially DuckTales 1 & 2), and if that is a genre you enjoy then this is a great value at only $20.