Apparently Capcom didn't get the memo. When you set out to make a 2D platformer based on a popular cartoon series, nobody is looking for quality. This is the kind of thing that will sell itself, regardless of how good the game is. Thankfully Capcom didn't listen to the conventional wisdom, because their take on Disney's DuckTales is an 8-bit masterpiece that should not be missed.
You play billionaire Scrooge McDuck, a loveable old geezer whose main source of exercise is swimming in his giant skyscraper of money. Here he's a world traveler, snagging rare treasures from all across the globe (and in space). This sets up an excuse to visit a number of exotic locations full of familiar faces. You'll deal with Magica De Spell and the Beagle Boys in Transylvania, get rescued by Launchpad McQuack in the Amazon and fight an abominable snowman in the Himalayas.
Thankfully Scrooge is a better fighter than he looks. He uses his walking cane like a pogo stick, allowing players to defeat enemies by (surprise, surprise) jumping on their heads. You are also able to hit rocks at enemies, which is also the way to earn some of the game's best treasures. The game even works against you in some interesting ways. After spending several levels relying on the pogo stick, you'll run into the Himalayan Mountains where it's easy to get stuck in the deep snow. Each stage will test your platforming skills in fresh and unique ways.
Not only are the level designs diverse, but they are also gigantic and full of hidden treasure. There are all sorts of secret paths to explore, adding some replay to the game. The platforming challenges are also well done, offering a difficult but fair design. The game isn't easy by any stretch of the imagination, but I was never frustrated to the point of quitting.
Capcom manages to sell the stylish look thanks to some spectacular graphics. The characters are relatively big for the platform and it's always clear who is who. If you're a fan of the animated show, then you'll immediately recognize every cameo the developers throw your way. It also perfectly captures the ambitious adventuring the show was interesting in. It would have been nice to see more dialog between characters, but this really feels like a love letter to a fantastic kids show.
It's easy to imagine this game going bad, yet Capcom holds all of these ideas in place. The game works as a fun nod to the TV show and a solid action game. Plus, the gameplay is different enough to hold its own against other 2D platformers of the era. Even if some of Scrooge's greed-is-good mentality has become controversial in the last twenty years, that shouldn't keep you from playing one of the best 8-bit games Capcom ever made.