One agonizingly long year after the release of Mickey Mousecapade, Capcom was intent on proving to the world that not every game starring Disney characters had to suck. Not only did they succeed in that quest, but they also proved that wealthy, octogenarian mallards are more adventurous than you or I. We all know that the rich don't stay rich just by spending money; you need to keep making money too. Sure you could own a successful business, make sound investments, or even become a loan shark, but where's the fun in that? For Scrooge McDuck, the best source of income is to go on an intercontinental rampage of terror. I guess you could call it a treasure hunt or something, but the artifacts Scrooge is after are hardly unguarded, and it's not like he has any sort of legitimate claim to them. Now that I'm done with the defamation of character, let's move on to what really happens.
The game begins with Scrooge McDuck and his nephews Louie, Huey, and Dewey (who is inexplicably NOT wearing a blue shirt) in front of a 1960s computer that is apparently also the world's largest treasure map. Desperate to recoup his losses from building this monstrosity, Scrooge must travel to five different locales in search of treasures worth untold millions... or rather, exactly one million each. While it has a level select familiar to us from Mega Man, Scrooge doesn't get any sort of special weapons, so it doesn't matter what order you play the levels in. So if there aren't any objections, I'll just go right down the list. So, any objections? Too bad!
Our feathered friend has two different attacks in this game, only one of which is particularly useful. Part of being rich is buying all sorts of seemingly useless shit, and Scrooge's cane is the perfect example. While it might seem like a worthless piece of wood, the cane doubles as a pogo stick. This is your only real attack, but it's effective; it kills everyone but the bosses in one hit. You also can swing your cane like a golf club, but only to knock inanimate objects into those baddies that you can't jump on, like man-eating plants or that giant Amazonian spider. Using the pogo stick is also the least intuitive thing in any game I've ever played, however. The year was 1989, and it was a much simpler time. Platformers weren't bogged down with those useless tutorials we all hate because you only had a directional pad and two buttons. This also meant that there was virtually no reason to read an instruction manual, because you should be able to figure it out on your own. DuckTales broke this trend though, and left Syd and me absolutely confused for about two hours, unable to make any progress because we couldn't fight back. It turns out that if you want to use the cane, you must first jump with the A button, then once in the air hold down the B button and down on the direction pad. But I digress. Once you fight your way through this long level of bees, apes, snakes, and spiders, it's time to fight the boss. But before you fight the boss, Dewey has some words of wisdom for you....
That's right, after you've fought through the Amazon, Dewey finally reveals to you the secret of your cane: it can actually be used to destroy the treasure you've been searching so hard to find! Actually, he says use it to defeat the treasure keeper, you just have to hit the A button again to scroll through the text. And the treasure keeper he speaks of is that non-threatening statue up there named Zarduck. Sure, the glowing red eyes are a nice touch, but all this little guy does is slide around on the floor, occasionally leaping really high into the air. When he comes crashing down it shakes the ground, but Scrooge won't be stunned if he's standing there. Instead it will merely disrupt his pogo jump if you happen to land as the ground's shaking, and that's pretty tough to do. Stomp this slab five times, and you will get your reward.
Don't let that sceptre's looks fool you. Scrooge cannot harness the powers of fire or anything remotely cool like that. It is, however, worth a cool million dollars. With the Sceptre of the Incan King secured, we can now head back to our giant money computer and pick a new destination. And since I'm going right down the list, that takes us to...
When you enter Transylvania, you'll find a distraught Webbigail who informs you that Huey has been captured. Climb up a rope almost right next to her, and there he is. As you can see, the Beagle Boys have set a brilliant trap, one which doesn't even involve tying Huey up. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the game wants you to use your golf swing here, but I say let Huey reap what he sows. However, he does have the most important advice in the game, which is that this place has an "illusion wall". I'm pretty sure that illusion isn't an adjective, but he's a little kid so I'll let his piss poor grammar slide. This level is mildly creepy, largely because it's filled with ghosts that you can't hurt, skeletal ducks that charge at you at high speeds, and mummies that unravel to reveal naked ducks underneath. Despite all this, the level is pretty easy. There are teleportation mirrors scattered about to distract you, but the object of this level is just to find one of the two fake walls. One of them will lead you to a health extending item, and the other will lead to the only pair of mirrors that actually matter. The first of these two mirrors takes you back to the beginning of the level, while the second one brings you to the boss. But before we discuss the boss of Transylvania, it's time for a brief departure into game mechanics.
That gem up there is worth $10,000, and there are red ones worth $50,000. But the real deal here, if you can even tell what the fuck it is, is that ice cream cone. An ice cream cone will refill one of Scrooge's hit points, and a cake will refill your entire health meter. That's right, Scrooge is a sugar junky. Sure old people are at a greater risk for diabetes, but that won't stop Scrooge from eating like 20 cakes in one level. See all those suits of armor? If you whack them with your cane, the helmet will turns into a treasure chest containing cake or other assorted goodies. Who the fuck eats cake they find in a suit of armor? Maybe, deep down, being wealthy is very unfulfilling and he just wants to die. It's the only explanation for why an old duck would go to Transylvania to wage war on the fucking undead, because I doubt he really needs another million dollars. That, or Capcom decided that having Preparation H refill your health bar wasn't what kids were looking for in a game. But while all those delicious snacky treats won't kill you, this bitch might.
It's Magica De Spell, and she's one of only the bosses who actually might hurt you. She turns into a vulture and flies around, then lands without warning and shoots three lightning bolts at you. Getting hit by either of these attacks isn't unrealistic at all, but her most potent weapon is your own impatience. When Magica turns into a vulture, she will either fly to the top of the screen, the middle, or near the bottom. When I was younger, I had trouble getting near her while she was on the ground, so I had to hit her vulture form. I'll save anyone that wants to try this the trouble, because I died too many times as a kid to let you all make the same mistakes I did: don't attack her when she's in the middle of the screen. Sure, it's technically possible to connect safely, but it's not worth it because the timing is near impossible. Give that bird the bounce five times and you'll get another treasure. What is it, you ask?
Why it's the Coin of the Lost Realm of course! I dunno, maybe they mean the realm of the undead? This is the one treasure that I felt needed some sort of explanation, and alas I have none. But hey, it's a coin that's half as big as Scrooge and it's really shiny, so I guess that makes it worth $1,000,000. Now onto the next level.
The African Mines level begins with one of the most pointless endeavors ever. You walk about 10 feet and then Louie tells you that you need to find a key that's hidden in Transylvania. Then the game sends you back to Transylvania and the you have to teleport into the very first mirror to get the key. Apparently, the key you find is called The Skeleton Key to the Mine. Last I checked, if the key is "to the mine" then it by definition cannot be a skeleton key. Maybe I'm getting overly bent out of shape about this one since it was written by Japanese programmers, but that line always bothered me. Once you enter the mine for realsies, you have to fight your way through what may be the game's the most difficult level. That doesn't mean it's hard, but it sure was when I was a little kid. There are two very specific reasons why I found it so hard, so I thought I'd document them with pictures.
The first thing I had trouble with was that goddam mine cart. Those plants are annoying too because you can't hurt them unless you kick shit at them, but they're easily avoided. You can only jump out of the mine cart when it's falling for some reason, and I used to find the timing for that really difficult. But as you can see, your half-retarded nephews are in the mine cart as well. There's no explanation ever given for why they're there, but when you jump out of the mine cart, they don't. So maybe Scrooge isn't trying to give himself a heart attack with all those sweets, but I think it becomes clear that he *is* trying to kill his nephews. I mean, come on, the bastard just watches as Huey, Louie, and Dewey go careening off a cliff. The other part of this level that always bugged me was jumping. There are pits with water that are too long to pogo jump over, so you have to bounce on angry green ducks for some extra momentum. I discovered later that this wasn't really an issue, because you could bounce on top of the screen and just kinda skip this whole part. You can get to the top of the screen in several places, but normally it's just for extra treasure. This is the only time you actually skip a "difficult" part of the game.
Here we find Mrs. Beakley, Scrooge's live-in sugar dealer. Apparently when you have rich clients, traveling to Africa or the Moon just to make sure they don't work the junk out of their system isn't out of the question. After getting your sugar fix, you can hop on more of those decks across a huge chasm. If you successfully do it, a giant treasure chest containing a giant gold ring awaits you. This is the first of two secret treasures which you'll need to collect to get the game's alternate ending. Conveniently enough, they are worth exactly $1,000,000, just like each of the five artifacts that you're actually trying to find. Hey, it makes things easier for his accountants. Once Scrooge picks up his secret treasure, it's time to climb down the chain and head left into the boss's chamber.
Here we have the King of the Terra-Fermies from the classic "Earthquack" episode. He just stands in the middle of the floor for a few seconds, then curls into a ball and rolls around the border of the screen. Just like those annoying fucking Terra-Fermies that you encounter throughout the rest of the game, the king cannot be hurt when he's in his ball form. Of course, since he's the only one of them who actually changes between his two forms, he's the only one you can actually destroy. And here I thought a ruler should be more powerful than his minions. Once you cane the king five times, you'll get his treasure. Oddly enough, the king has a sceptre in his hand, a crown on his head, and some sort of coin or medal around his neck. All of these resemble the other treasures you get, which makes me wonder why you don't get one of them from him.
You are now the proud owner of the Diamond of the Inner-Earth. At this point I'd like to interject what an asshole Scrooge is. Zarduck is just some random stone sentinel, so defeating him for the sceptre is fine. Magica De Spell is an evil bitch who's always fucking with Scrooge, and I'm pretty sure that coin wasn't rightfully hers anyway. But come on now, you just killed the King of the Terra-Fermies, who lives at the center of the Earth, and stole his diamond. I hope you're fucking proud of yourself, Scrooge. You'd probably take candy from a baby if you thought it had resale value, you lousy son of a bitch. Now that I'm done cussing out fictional characters, let's go to the next level.
Welcome to the Himalayas, which is by far the most annoying level in the game. For a large portion of this level, your pogo bounce will be utterly useless. Why, you ask? Because walking on snow with a pogo stick serves the exact opposite function as walking on snow with snow shoes. And since they're called snow shoes, I'll let you guess which method is more effective. Interestingly enough, Capcom decided to make the pogo stick drive right through the snow and they made the ice textures slick (you can still pogo on them), but they didn't feel the need to make a palette swap of the spider from the Amazon level. I'm hardly what you would call a... bugologist, since I don't even know the word for someone that studies bugs. I am, however, willing to guess that if there were giant spiders that lived in both the fucking Amazon rainforest and the Himalayas, they'd at least be different colors. In addition to spiders, there are also icicles hanging from the ceiling. They can fall on you, but they're easily dodged so all they really do is slow you down. As you can see though, your old buddy Launchpad McQuack is here. He's actually in every level except for Transylvania, and he offers to fly you back to Duckburg. If you accept the ride and the 10,000s place in your cash total is a seven, then you get to go to a secret level!
First of all, if Scrooge is so fucking rich, why can't he buy his pilot a real helicopter? Isn't all this traveling exciting enough? Does the old bastard really have to hold on to a rope hanging from the bottom of a makeshift chopper just to get his rocks off? These are the questions that plague society. Anyway, if you manage to get to the secret level, it's well worth it. Basically, you just chase Gyro Gearloose as he throws money at you. That's it. This is a cheap ploy that the programmers used to include another character and to make the secret ending really, really easy to get. Regardless of whether you get the bonus game, Launchpad will bring you back to the level select screen and you'll be able to repeat the level you just did. Why the fuck would you want to do that? So you can double dip and pick up all the diamonds you just grabbed again, dumbass. This bores me, so let's get back to the Himalayas.
Hey, it's Bubba! Remember Bubba? If you were at all interested in this article, then fuck yes you do. I actually don't remember him, but Syd assures me that he really was a recurring character on the show. Bubba has somehow gotten himself frozen in a levitating block of ice, but have no fear! Just bounce on him with your pogo stick and he'll become unfrozen caveman lawyer! Actually, he'll give you the second extension to your health bar. Here we also see the most deadly of the basic enemies: Jason Voorhees. Well, not really, but he does have a hockey mask. He also has a hockey stick as you can see and that makes him the most deadly enemy in the game. Not only will he move left and right like most enemies, he will actually use that hockey stick to shoot giant blocks of ice at you. Sure it's not that scary, but it's more than most of the enemies do. Once you're done sending Jason back to Hell, you're welcome to go fight this level's boss. Even if you haven't played the game before, I'm sure you could guess who it is.
That's right! It's the Abominable Snowman. He jumps from one end of the screen to the other, then uses his magical yeti powers to summon balls of ice that rain down from the heavens above. That, or he punches the wall to make them rain down. With the 8-bit graphics, it's a little hard to tell. As long as you're patient and don't try to hit him after he punches the wall (you'll be propelled upward into falling ice faster than you could dream of dodging), he's really easy. He goes down in five hits like all the other bosses, leaving you once again with a cool but nonsensical treasure.
What's so nonsensical about a crown you ask? Well that's not just any crown, mofo! That's the Crown of Genghis Khan! No, this is not a joke, and I have the instruction booklet to prove it. I didn't even know the Himalayas were anywhere near Mongolia until I found out whose crown that was, but I'm not going to question Capcom on this one. I'm also not going to look at a map of the region, because I'm a lazy bastard. That just leaves us with one more treasure to find!
I know what you're thinking: how the fuck did Scrooge even get to the moon? Apparently that piece of shit that Launchpad drives you around on somehow can fly here, because he's in this level too. The moon is actually my favorite level because it's the most involved, and it has some cool enemies. They all still just blunder around aimlessly, but they look cool nonetheless. This level also has the second hidden treasure, pictured above. If you have any idea what the fuck that is, let me know, because SECRET treasures aren't named in the instruction manual. My guess is that it's the Golden Moon Ashtray.
As I said, this is the most involved level which means you have to go back and forth on multiple occasions to collect items before you can progress any further. You could actually find both items you need without ever knowing you needed them, but if you stumble upon the locked door, Webby will tell you that you need to track down a key in order to proceed. While the Million Dollar Ashtray didn't need to be locked up, Gizmo's remote control apparently does. There's no explanation as to why these aliens would have the remote control to begin with, but fucked if they're going to let you have it. Of course, they made little to no effort to actually hide the key. The key itself is far from impressive looking, so rather than show you that, here's a picture of Scrooge standing on top of the screen paying homage to Mario, without whom that would not have been possible.
Once you have the key, you can go get Gizmo's remote control. Of course, you'll have to defeat three of those cute little octopus looking things first. Once you kill them, the wonderful people at Capcom finally decide that for the first and last time in this game that it's worth reminding you that Scrooge is indeed Scottish. Blessed bagpipes, Batman!
Now that you have a remote in your hand and a bagpipe tune in your heart, you can make Gizmo your manservant and have him blow the wall away revealing a rope into the depths of the moon. After making your way through a few Beagle Boys who seem strangely out of place after the onslaught of aliens and robo-ducks, you will fight the last of the level bosses: The Lunarat. This thing scared the crap out of me as a kid because it's really fast, and jumps around fairly erratically. It will also charge directly at you as soon as you enter the room whereas all of the other bosses give you a moment to collect your thoughts. Aside from being faster than your average level boss, the rat is still not that difficult to defeat. Stomp on him five times and you will get my favorite treasure in the game.
That's right, the treasure is green cheese, the kind the moon is allegedly made out of. You're probably thinking Why is that your favourite? It makes no fucking sense! You also probably left out the "u" in favourite when you thought that, you bastard. But the key to the awesomeness of this treasure is the name given to it in the instruction manual: The Green Cheese of Longevity. That's right, Ponce de Leon was a few MILLION miles off course when he went searching for the key to immortality. I also don't think that this treasure should really add a million dollars to your total because after all that cake and ice cream, Scrooge will eat this treasure if he knows what's good for him. Then again, everything that's taken place in this game so far leads me to believe that no, he doesn't know what's good for him. Not even a little. After collecting all five treasures, you go back to your giant supercomputer to revel in your obscene wealth. But all of the sudden, the five treasures just kinda fly away from your body. Judging by the message on the screen, this was supposed to signify that they were stolen but it looks a lot more like Scrooge just kinda threw them away.
In order to reclaim your newfound treasures, you'll have to travel to Dracula Duck Manor. Dracula Duck Manor looks strangely similar to Transylvania. It looks so similar, in fact, that if you knocked the helmet of off a suit of armor there, it's off here too. When you get to the room where you battled Magica De Spell before, you will find Dracula Duck waiting for you. For a vampire duck, he's pretty non-threatening. That doesn't mean he's easy to beat, because he's not, but he just lacks that feel of terror that I would expect from the undead. I'm not sure why, but I think the top hat has something to do with it. Dracula Duck hovers in the middle of the screen, disappearing and reappearing, and sending little bats at you. In order to hurt him, you must pogo off his little bat friends with your cane to hit him. Aside from sending bats at you, he doesn't seem all that interested in using his demonic powers to take Scrooge out. Fortunately for Scrooge, his engineers were able to build him a cane which not only acts as a pogo stick, but is still clearly made out of wood. Drive it through Dracula Duck's heart five times and it's game over for this foe. But oh no! You may have beaten Dracula Duck, but a new enemy appears: Flintheart Glomgold, the second richest duck in the world! Magica is back too, in vulture form, and she starts carrying Glomgold up towards a chest containing the five treasures that you worked so diligently to obtain. Then, a rope also magically appears for you and you must race Flinty to the treasures. You can climb much faster than Ms. De Spell can fly, so it's pretty tough to fuck this up. Of course, Glomgold fucked this up when he invited you to the manor instead of just keeping the treasure, but whatever.
Congratulations! You have now beaten the game. However, if Scrooge is standing in front of a small treasure chest and he's still wearing his normal top hat, then apparently you aren't very good at this game. Sure the newspaper says you're an expert treasure hunter, but what sort of standard is the Duck Press really imposing on you? To say otherwise would be like Weekly World News saying that Donald Trump was a bad investor, though they're probably the only paper with the balls to say such a thing. Anyway, there is another ending to this game, which is almost identical.
Most FAQs say you merely need $10,000,000 to get this ending, but you actually need to have both hidden treasures as well. And yes, it's possible to get that much money without either hidden treasure, and I did so just to see if I'd get this ending. Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately), the programmers weren't quite that lazy. Thanks to the sale of those hidden treasures, Scrooge now has more than enough money to fill his vault and go swimming in money again, though sadly that part of the ending was cut out. You do get a slightly different newspaper clipping, but that's the extent of the differences. Either way you do it though, you can expect a sappy ending.
Yes, Huey, Dewey, and Louie all survived their tragic mine cart accident and insist on taking some of the credit. I think it's Launchpad that Scrooge couldn't have done it without, but I guess he may as well throw the little bastards a frickin' bone once in a while. So what did we learn today? Well we've learned that no matter how much money you have, it's always worth risking your life for more. We've learned that sugar and cheese are the keys to immortality, so it's never too soon to buy stock in The Cheesecake Factory. We've learned that the Abominable Snowman is very real, and very Mongolian. But most importantly, we've learned that while evil Scotsmen may try to steal all your treasure and even hire vampires to kill you, they'll always leave a rope hanging there for you. That, or I suppose what we really learned is that video games based on cartoons really can be fun. Thus concludes my first of many articles. So until next time when I may or may not have an original tagline: Stay classy, San Diego.
Posted by: Dr. Jeebus