During the 80s and 90s Capcom released a series of immortal Disney classics for the NES, and from time to time we dust off the old cartridges to enjoy them. While they can all be finished in no more than 40 minutes if you run through them, there's something about them that today's platformers can only dream of achieving, as Capcom and Disney made simple and fun games, with unprecedented control.
This takes us to The Disney Afternoon Collection. Here we find six Disney classics originally released for the NES, which are Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers 2, DuckTales, DuckTales 2, Darkwing Duck, and TaleSpin. For many, this represents a dream compilation of classics, and developer Digital Eclipse also dropped in some extra features for hardcore fans to enjoy. If you played the brilliant Mega Man Legacy Collection, then you know that Digital Eclipse opts to keep the occasionally imperfect frame-rate and graphics intact instead of updating these. People have complained about this before, but we feel that this is part of the charm when dealing with old Nintendo games, as that's how we remember them. Digital Eclipse has taken the same approach here, then, which feels more natural than to play a NES game that has been cleaned up and works perfectly.
As you no doubt are familiar with, many of the old games from this era are more difficult to master than modern games. An example of this is Darkwing Duck, which we consider an incredibly difficult action game. Despite numerous attempts, we've only completed it once, and for The Disney Afternoon Collection catering to all all ages and skill levels, the developer introduces two new features, one of which is a save system that lets you, as expected, save the games at any time.
The other big new feature is the ability to manipulate time to correct your mistakes, much like in say Forza Motorsport 6 or Prince of Persia. Any death is therefore reversible by pressing the L1 button (we mainly played the PS4 version) to rewind time, and we only really put this feature to the test in one particular instance, namely on the final boss in Darkwing Duck (a well-known pain in the backside). While this is certainly a useful feature that'll save you a lot of anger and frustration when being forced to start over from scratch, it does make saving a little bit redundant.
It's worth pointing out that the six games included differ quite a lot from game to game, so there's a good mix here even if it's all Disney. Even Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers and Chip' n Dale Rescue Rangers 2 are two great games that differ a lot from each other, despite some obvious similarities, and the same goes for the two DuckTales games as well. Elsewhere, Darkwing Duck is an incredible action game that's almost impossible to stop playing, although it's pretty difficult, whereas TaleSpin is probably the game that plays most differently and puts you in control of Baloo's airplane as you fight off air pirates.
All games offer incredibly beautiful pixel graphics from the originals too, as well as the iconic family-friendly humour, but we should also mention the music too. Anyone who has played these classic Disney titles will know what we're talking about, as it's impossible not start humming the music of Darkwing Duck or Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers once you've played the game. We can't avoid mentioning "The Moon" from DuckTales either, as that's an iconic video game song.
Included in the game is also a museum with beautiful concept art that you can look at, and here you'll find everything from unique artwork to other works of art from the classic Disney games. You can even listen to all the songs via a video player, and this is a feature that we appreciated greatly, particularly given the stunning soundtrack.
Another great addition is the Boss Rush mode and it's insanely entertaining, as it allows you to compete against yourself or a friend to see who can defeat the games' various bosses in the fastest time possible. Capcom has always provided great bosses in their Disney games, and it's a joy to be able to enjoy all the bosses from say, Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers, without even having to play the full game from the start.
The final new feature is the so-called "Time Attack" mode which does what you'd expect it to, and is perfect for those who like speedrunning. You can't save or manipulate time here, for obvious reasons, as it's simply about completing the game in the fastest possible time, something much easier said than done.
However, there's an option we sorely miss in The Disney Afternoon Collection, and it's a game mode found in Mega Man Legacy Collection that offers NES Remix-like challenges; mini-games based on the actual games. We can't help but think how fun it would be to master specific level sections and bosses taken from these classic Disney games in similar fashion.
You can't always have everything, though, and we've already got an almost perfect Disney collection, but at the same time we would've liked to see more Disney games for the NES in this collection. We miss The Lion King (not developed by Capcom), Adventures in the Magic Kingdom, and The Little Mermaid, for instance, even though the latter wasn't released in Europe. Still, it would have been nice to have a few more games to choose from.
At the end of the day we would wholeheartedly recommend The Disney Afternoon Collection to everybody. It's a phenomenal collection that offers six of the best games for NES and gives you incredible value for money, and given the cost of some of these original cartridges in today's market, you're actually saving a great deal of money if you pick up this collection.