The Disney Afternoon Collection Review: Step Right up and Come on In

Here's where the fun begins (except for TaleSpin).

When you return to a game you loved during childhood, one of three things will happen:

  • The game turns out to be as good as you remember, or close enough.
  • The game's a bit flawed, but still offers you a good time thanks in part to nostalgia's helpful, warming glow.
  • The game sucks the bag, and you suddenly remember you only plowed through it in the first place because some well-meaning relative bought it for you, and you had about three months to fill before your next birthday / Christmas / Bar Mitzvah.

Digital Eclipse's Disney Afternoon Collection, a very '90s gathering of Capcom's licensed Disney games for the NES, features six titles that run the gamut from "This is every bit as good as I remember it" to "Oh God, life's too short for this dreck."

Thankfully, most of the titles on-hand fall into category one. Ducktales, Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, and Darkwing Duck are still excellent games that are very much worth another playthrough. Ducktales 2 and Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers 2 don't quite touch the bar set by their predecessors, but they're still good. And TaleSpin is, uh – well, it's fun to swear at for about ten minutes before retreating to Ducktales.

Speaking of Uncle Scrooge, his plucky nephews, and their iconic NES game, I'm pleased to report Ducktales still plays brilliantly. It's well-paced, its music is superb, and there aren't any cutscenes to button-mash through. Not to dump on Ducktales Remastered, or pooh-pooh the venerable Alan Young's performance as Scrooge McDuck therein. It was just a nice surprise to fire up Ducktales and discover it's still as fun as it was when I was ten.

Darkwing Duck plays quite a bit like Mega Man, but Mega Man never had webbed feet. Bubble Man, on the other hand...

Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers and Darkwing Duck are likewise still winners, though the latter is definitely harder than the former. Blessed is Digital Eclipse's inclusion of a "Rewind" button, which lets you zip back should you happen to fall down a pit or receive a fatal blow.

Ducktales 2 (1993) and Chip 'n Dale's Rescue Rangers 2 (1994) are very welcome inclusions since most of us had moved on to the SNES or Genesis by the time the games hit the market (or we were saving up for the 16-bit revolution). Both games are downright decent, though playing them probably won't offer up the near-breathless joy you feel while playing the first Ducktales and Chip 'n Dale. Curiously, Chip 'n Dale 2 looks much more muted than the first candy-colored excursion.

Then there's TaleSpin. I know someone out there must love this game, probably someone named Kat. For me, though, its bizarre control scheme renders it an unlovable side-scrolling shooter on a system that's not hurting for top-notch shmups. The Disney Afternoon Collection doesn't suffer for its inclusion, but neither does it gain much from it.

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Fortunately, the love and care Digital Eclipse clearly put behind the games' emulation helps waft away the small stink TaleSpin leaves upon the collection. The aforementioned Rewind button is exactly what the busy 30-something ordered, and it might prove useful if you're interested in getting your kids to try the games, too. Make sure to stand behind them, puff on your pipe, and tell them how we didn't have a Rewind button on the NES, no sir (we also didn't have jobs to go to, or grocery runs to make).

If you were impressed with the job Digital Eclipse did with 2015's Mega Man Legacy Collection, its work with the Disney Afternoon Collection won't let you down. The graphic and music emulation is crisp, and there are plenty of fun extras to plow through, including concept art, advertising materials, boss rushes, and time attacks. There's even a chiptune rendition of the Disney Afternoon theme song – which, disappointingly, is not available through any of the games' sound tests.

The '90s are long-gone (thank goodness – I once sliced myself open with the metal edge of a slap bracelet), but good games are forever. The Disney Afternoon Collection is a well-built gathering of games that (mostly) deserve to be remembered.

Playing Ducktales is way more fun than playing with Pogs, at any rate.

Lasting appeal
Admittedly, it doesn't take long to blaze through these games (especially if you spam Rewind), but the time attack and boss rush add some longevity to the package.

The games' iconic chiptunes come through as clear as a bell.

Digital Eclipse did a great job preserving the visuals of each game on the collection. There are tons of viewing options too, just in case you want to play Darkwing Duck in widescreen for whatever reason. "I am the terror that stretches across your screen!..."

The Disney Afternoon Collection makes it easy to re-live the part of the '90s that's worth re-living, i.e. the part that has doesn't involve neon shoelaces.


Tagged with PC, PlayStation 4, Retro, Reviews, Xbox One.

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