Disney's Darkwing Duck

Moby ID: 8623
NES Specs
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Description official description

The city of St. Canard is plagued by an unseen crime wave. The intelligence agency S.H.U.S.H. suspects that the shady organization F.O.W.L. and their valued operative Steelbeak are its causes. The caped superhero Darkwing has made quite some enemies in the criminal circles thanks to his past heroic deeds, and now the entire city has to pay for that. Naturally, the valiant duck is determined to travel through the dangerous streets of St. Canard, defeat his foes, and foil Steelbeak's plans.

Darkwing Duck is a side-scrolling platform game featuring the titular character from the Disney television series. The gameplay is similar to Duck Tales, also resembling Mega Man games in many ways. Darkwing's default weapon is a gas gun; special adapters that modify its functions can be collected during exploration. By using his cape, Darkwing is able to deflect some of the enemy projectiles. Weapons can be changed via a sub-screen.

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Credits (NES version)

4 People

Producer (uncredited)
Object Designer (uncredited)
Sound Composer (uncredited)
Sound Programmer (uncredited)



Average score: 76% (based on 24 ratings)


Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 55 ratings with 2 reviews)

Let's get dangerous!

The Good
For those gamers old enough to remember, such as myself, Nintendo games based on a popular cartoon, comic or film franchise were oftentimes a bitter disappointment. Then came Capcom.

Capcom made or published most of the Disney themed games for the 8bit and 16bit Nintendo systems. With very few exceptions all of the Capcom games were great, well designed and fun to play.

Here we have a great example of this Capcom tradition. The Disney cartoon series is given star quality treatment. Excellent graphics and animation really show just what the old Nintendo can really do, in the right hands.

Game mechanics are smooth and easy to learn, especially if you have played a classic Mega Man game. Little details, such as the use of the duck's cape or the text dialog between characters suggest that this game was a labor of love.

The Bad
Capcom games based on a cartoon franchise were sometimes a tad bit too hard for the franchise's target audience. While the level of difficulty in this game never goes into the near impossible realm, it may sometimes be frustrating for say, a seven year old child.

Overall, the difficulty is much better balanced, then say "Yo! Noid" or "Little Nemo", but this is probably not a "kiddie" game. Teens and adults with patience, skill and an appreciation for the cartoon series should have no problem.

Lastly, the music in the game is a bit lacking in the creativity department. The theme song is well done, and some later levels feature some great tunes. However, most of the music is easily forgotten.

The Bottom Line
Darkwing Duck is a true labor of 8-bit love. You will love the graphics, game play mechanics, sound effects and an assortment of nice touches and fine details too numerous to mention. Sometimes the tunes are less then great, and sometimes the level of difficulty is more then a child can handle. Yet, fans of the cartoon series or anyone wanting to see what the old school Nintendo hardware can really do, should give this game a try.

NES · by ETJB (428) · 2013

Eggstraordinary. No wait. Quacktastic. How about just plain Ducky?

The Good
Capcom acquired the Disney license in the late Eighties and used it to produce a number of games based on classic characters, as well as entries from the Disney Afternoon cartoon block of the era. While they started a little rough with Mickey Mousecapade, by the end of their relationship, Capcom had a reputation of producing some awesome platformers with the license. Darkwing Duck is no EGGception (okay, last duck pun, I swear... probably).

Taking place over 7 stages, Darkwing Duck runs, jumps, and gases his way the the nefarious henchmen of F.O.W.L (their pun, not mine). F.O.W.L.'s main agent, Steelbeak, has hired a gaggle of ne'er-do-ells to commit crimes across the city, throwing St. Canard into havoc. It's up to Darkwing to set things right.

The 7 stages are divided into two areas with three selectable stages each. Clear the first three to open the next three, then clear those and you're taken to the final stage. This really doesn't promote any kind of non-linearity because the order you complete the stages in doesn't impact the game experience at all. There's nothing to collect and no hidden weapons that I recall. The stages generally progress in difficulty working from the left side of the screen to the right, so ultimately, beating the stages out of order is just a matter of preference. It kind of begs why the stage select exists at all, but it doesn't get in the way of the game, so no harm, no fowl (sorry).

Controls in this game are instantly familiar, especially to fans of the Mega Man series. In fact, according to wikipedia, the game is built on a modified version of the Mega Man 5 engine. It shows. Jumping is pixel perfect, and there is a weapon system using gas canisters with obvious parallels to the Blue Bomber's arsenal. Darkwing lacks the ability to slide, but he gains the ability to shoot while ducking (not a pun), hang from certain items, like hooks and some girders, and the ability to block some projectile attacks with his cape. Everything is beautifully responsive and the controls have the polish you'd expect from a platfomer of its lineage.

The graphics are marvelous as well; charming and well animated. The color palette captures the pseudo-noir flair of the cartoon without being too dark or muddy. The sprites are big, but don't overwhelm the screen. Animations are simple and efficient, yet are smooth and feel full. Visually, it fully exploits everything the NES was capable of. I'd go so far as saying this may be the best looking Nintendo game ever made, including any of the other games from late in the console's life-cycle.

For the most part, the music is good, though a little repetitive at times. It's largely upbeat and jaunty, fitting a game aimed largely at children. The cartoon theme song is in there too. It's done pretty well, but lacks the 'jazzy' aspect of the version in the actual show. The best piece by far is in the final stage. It's kind of a funky, speakeasy song. I don't know what it is about that one, but it's quite catchy. The sound effects are solid as well. There's nothing really signature about them, but the acquit themselves well enough.

All in all, this game is an extremely high quality product that shows off what Capcom's developers were able to learn in their previous 8 or so years developing on the NES.

The Bad
As polished and well put together as this game is, playing it nowadays, I think it's a little difficult for children. Certainly it's not 'Nintendo Hard', but there are a lot of bottomless pit jumps that take advantage of that hanging move mentioned earlier. On the other hand, after all these years, maybe I'm just not as good at these types of games anymore.

Many of the sound effects were a little flat or forgettable. Again, nothing bad, but there was little or nothing special, either. It's a shame that by the time this game came out, Nintendo had such a tight grip on things like extra chips, etc, because although the music and sound are pretty good, they really would have benefited from just a little more pop.

Also, as mentioned earlier, the stage selection component is completely wasted. I don't think you needed to have the bosses drop weapons or anything, as then the game would be little more than Mega Man in a duck costume, in a Shadow costume. Still, maybe the order you beat the stages in could have offered different endings or changed some game play elements internal to the stages themselves. Then again, that may just be me bringing my modern expectations of a game back into the 8-Bit era. After all, this cart is packed.

These quibbles are really just grasping at straws. There's nothing worth complaining about in this game, but it's not perfect.

The Bottom Line
Darkwing Duck is probably the apex of what Capcom was able to accomplish on the NES. Great graphics and tight game play make it tons of fun to this day. If you overlooked it back in the day, or are just getting into the retro-gaming scene, give this one a try. If you're simply nostalgic for the days when cartoons were on network TV, this should hit the spot as well. Honestly, whatever your reasons, pick up a copy, blow on the connector pins, and have a ball!

NES · by Nancy "Infested" Kerrigan (36) · 2011



Darkwing Duck is actually running on the Mega Man game engine, hence why its style is quite similar to that of the Blue Bomber's.


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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Mumm-Ra.

Additional contributors: Satoshi Kunsai, Patrick Bregger.

Game added March 14, 2003. Last modified January 16, 2024.