During the 90's, showing cartoons at the same time kids were getting home from school was a trend. Disney was at the forefront, and releasing a selection of shows with new takes on classic characters was a large part of their strategy. There was Baloo, of The Jungle Book fame, starring as an ace pilot in TaleSpin, or the chipmunks, Chip and Dale, from the old 1940s and 1950s shorts taking up badges as crime solving detectives in Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers. This block of cartoons was known as the Disney Afternoon, which is why this compilation is called the Disney Afternoon Collection, a collection that attempts to recreate that afternoon magic on the video game consoles of today.
Capcom had the rights to make games with Disney characters in the 1990s, and they tried to encapsulate the fun of the cartoons into a series of games for various platforms of that era, ranging from the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) to the Sega Game Gear. Some were fantastic experiences, while others were much less so.
However, The Disney Afternoon Collection, which includes the NES compilations of DuckTales 1 & 2, Chip & Dale: Rescue Rangers 1 & 2, Darkwing Duck, and TaleSpin was not one of the latter. Because of that, this collection was recently released as the Disney Afternoon Collection on PS4 and Xbox One.
Despite being games based on cartoons, they have a rich history that the average gamer doesn’t know. So without further ado, here are five things that you probably didn’t know about this little collection.
The first DuckTales game, released in 1989, is remembered as a classic partly due to Scrooge McDuck’s pogo-jump move. Not many platformers around at the time gave their main character a unique move like this – for example, Mario’s special abilities in Super Mario Bros 3 came through temporary power ups while Scrooge's came naturally.
Shovel Knight, which is openly inspired by NES classics platformers like Ghosts n' Goblins, Darkwing Duck, and Duck Tales, was developed by Yacht Club Games. Interestingly, Yacht Club Games was set up by Sean Velasco, who used to direct WayForward Technologies. In turn, WayForward was behind 2013's remaster of the first NES DuckTales. Their involvement seems to reveal how Sean Valseco cut his teeth learning the intricacies of these old titles -- and how Shovel Knight came to be.
Many key Capcom staff members who worked on Mega Man also worked on DuckTales. Indeed, a key artist in the DuckTales game, Keiji Inafune, produced Mega Man Zero. This installment of the game featured a Triple Rod weapon which let the player attack in up to eight different directions, while also allowing them to bounce on top of enemies. Like Shovel Knight, it seems almost directly inspired by Scrooge McDuck’s pogo jump.
Aesthetically, you don’t need to look far to see that this game (and the original cartoon) is a Disney interpretation of Batman. With his grappling hook moves, sharp wit, and brooding tone, Darkwing could comfortably hold the title of Caped Crusader. And no one would be able to deny that he couldn't hold his own in today’s superhero brawlers like Marvel vs Capcom.
As a platformer, this game was notoriously hard. You only have two hit points, the controls can be a little fiddly, and your jumping and grappling have to be pixel perfect. The difficulty curve is most likely because of its producer, Tokuro Fujiwara, who also created Capcom classics like Ghosts and Goblins.
Fujiwara went on to create his own studio, Whoopee Camp, which made the Tomba platformers for PlayStation. These were very well received, and helped to cement Fujiwara’s reputation as a developer of very hard games!
Chip and Dale and its sequel were also produced by Tokuro Fujiwara. However, unlike the aforementioned titles, this game is quite easy, as it’s appropriately aimed at a younger market. It even got a port to the Nintendo arcade system, the PlayChoice 10.
An image of the PlayChoice 10 from the
International Arcade Museum website.
Later zones in Chip and Dale 2 will be familiar to those who have played Mega Man. Capcom, of course, developed both franchises, and the mechanical zone pictured above is extremely similar to Mega Man 3 (with the exception of the gopher sprites!). Chip and Dale 2 also takes inspiration from Mega Man in its gameplay. Unlike the rinse and repeat ball-throwing strategem of Chip and Dale, the sequel switches up boss patterns, making things a bit more like Mega Man.
Like the cartoon, TaleSpin is the least well-known and probably least popular title on this list. The game released on a number of platforms, including the Sega Genesis and Game Gear. Despite being developed by Capcom, the game plays very differently on each console.
The Game Gear version, which I owned growing up, is a traditional side-scrolling platformer with flying sections between certain stages. However, players almost always fly in the NES version. Consequently, the controls are a bit tricky, making each version frustratingly difficult instead of challenging.
And that's it! We hope these interesting facts about some of Capcom’s Disney games has got you hyped to play the old NES classics again on your modern system. The most well-known games in the collection seem to be those which are connected to the cartoons we remember the most, like DuckTales.
It’s interesting which games inspired Capcom’s other franchises and which games took inspiration from said franchises. Check out our review of The Disney Afternoon Collection here!