By the time they got to Disney's Darkwing Duck, Capcom was done coming up with new ideas. Instead of finding one or two defining gimmicks like they did with DuckTales, Rescue Rangers and TaleSpin, the developers simply made a Mega Man clone. Thankfully it's a damn good Mega Man clone. But even the solid level designs and great graphics aren't enough to make you forget that you've seen and played this all before.
Much like Capcom's other Disney Afternoon releases, Darkwing Duck follows a loveable cartoon hero as he battles bad guys and saves the day. You do this by traversing a bunch of platforming challenges in levels as diverse as the city, a bridge, the sewers, a tower and the forest. Eventually our hero will make his way to F.O.W.L.'s floating fortress and take on Stealbeak once and for all.
The game's action is solid, offering a lot of cartoony characters to shoot and plenty of items to pick up along the way. Unfortunately, you're only limited to a few weapons. While the gameplay may resemble Capcom's blue bomber, the things people love (earning weapons from killing themed bosses) goes missing. This is nothing more than a 2D shooter with cartoon-themed levels. Think of it as Mega Man Lite, only just as difficult and not as rewarding.
While we're on the subject of Mega Man, I was disappointed in Darkwing Duck's short campaign. While it will take you a few tries to get through each stage, it won't take the average player more than a few hours to complete the quest. There are only a handful of levels, making this half the length of your typical Mega Man outing. The few innovations Capcom makes on the formula aren't very substantial. Darkwing Duck can duck bullets (no pun intended) and hang from ledges. These are the types of maneuvers we've seen countless times in better action games. At best, the game manages to capture the look of the cartoon and little more.
The odd thing is, I came away from the game mildly impressed. Even the score is above average, meaning that I definitely recommend players give Disney's Darkwing Duck a serious look. But don't go in thinking this is another Capcom classic in line with DuckTales or even Rescue Rangers. The generic action is elevated by Capcom's expertise in creating amazing 2D action games.
Of Capcom's Disney Afternoon line-up, Darkwing Duck is the worst. It's not a bad game, but rather a disappointment given the richness of the source material. Of all the cartoons, this is the one that lends itself best to a video game. Younger gamers will have fun with Darkwing Duck, but older gamers should stick with Capcom's Mega Man series.