Welcome to this week’s, “Sequel, Spin Off, Start Over or Stay Dead?”Â Each week we’re going to look at a dormant franchise that was once pretty popular, but for some reason has disappeared into the sands of time. Diehard GameFAN staffers will have four options for what they want to have happen to the series and you can see them in the title of this piece. For a little more detailed description see below:
Sequel – A direct sequel to the franchise. This means if it used sprites and was in 2-D, that’s how you want the next game to be as well. This might involve putting the game on a handheld system instead of a console, but it keeps the nostalgia and classic feel alive.
Spin Off – This is where you take the characters or a specific character is a totally different direction from the established franchise. Examples include Luigi’s Mansion, Hey You, Pikachu!, Shadow Hearts (From Koudelka), and so on.
Start Over – This is a reimagining of the series from the ground up. Perhaps it’s time to bring the series into 3-D. Perhaps you want a totally different control scheme or to throw away the old continuity. In a nutshell, this is taking the brand name from the old series and that’s about it. Everything else is new and re-envisioned.
Stay Dead – This is pretty obvious. This is a toxic franchise that you don’t want to see return in any way shape or form. Let the dead rest.
In 1987, an animated cartoon based on Carl Banks’ Scrooge McDuck comic series was released worldwide. With a catchy song, witty and engaging storylines and the World’s Richest Duck played by Allan Young (Wilbur from Mister Ed), the series was an instant hit and is still credited as the return to greatest with Disney’s animation studio after a long drought, as well as being one of the biggest cartoon success stories of the 1980s. Like all popular things in the 80s, it would spawn a series of licensed video games featuring the cast and characters of the show. Unlike most licensed titles during the NES era, both 8-bit DuckTales titles were considered to be excellent games and spawned a very large fanbase that still holds them in high regard to this day. Nintendo Power even put the first game as the #13 NES game of all time. There was also a PC game for the Amiga, Apple IIe and Commodore 64 that was more a straight action title with photography mini games and some money management bits than the NES’ platformer titles.
As the Scrooge McDuck comics are still going long after the cartoon has died and been resurrected as DVD fodder, four Diehard GameFAN staffer discuss if another video game featured the DuckTales franchise can stand on its own two webbed feet.
A.J. Hess- Stay Dead
Woo-hoo! Admit it, you can remember the theme song. The world of Ducktales was one of the cooler things that Disney ever put out, both in cartoons and video games. The games had some of the best platforming action I’ve ever played; challenging while still beatable. The cast of characters was robust, and the colors tended towards bright and happy. So why stay dead? Because it’s a dead franchise and doesn’t have a reason to come back. The reason the game worked so well was largely due to how respectful it was to its home franchise, the cartoon. I’m pretty sure there isn’t a Ducktales cartoon running these days. Even if you managed to put together some type of cart racer or multi-show platformer featuring Chip and Dale’s Rescue Rangers and Tailspin, the core audience for these shows have grown up and moved on. They would have to show their own children DVD’s of the show to get them interested. Great show, great game, but the world has moved on.
Chris Bowen – Stay Dead
I LOVE DuckTales. Notice that verb isn’t in the past tense. I still enjoy the cartoon today, well over twenty years since it went away. I adored the characters, the storytelling, and everything about it. I even tolerated Bubba. I own every episode on my hard drive, and watch them just as much as I watch anime or anything else. By the way, I turn thirty this month.
But everyone that loved DuckTales is into adulthood now. Aileen’s the youngest one I can think of that watched the show, and she’s 24. If one were to bring DuckTales back, it would be for two groups of people: 1) Yesterday’s kids, who have all grown up and moved on with their lives, and 2) today’s kids. The former group would be relying purely on nostalgia, and the problem with selling nostalgia is that you can’t sell it in too large of chunks. Most people who loved DuckTales in the old days will go “Yeah! OK! DuckTales!” for about five minutes, then move on. The latter group – today’s kids – will look at their parents and go “what’s DuckTales?” before moving on to whatever they watch nowadays.
In short, I don’t see the benefit, and I’m sure whoever still holds those rights – be it Capcom or whoever else Disney would license – feels the same way. It just wouldn’t be viable, unless you were going to mash all of those 90s era Disney cartoons into one game. A game with the DuckTales characters, Darkwing Duck, Gargoyles, hell, I’ll even tolerate the Gummi Bears… yeah. I can do that.
Mark B. – Stay Dead
Duck Tales, as a game series, is the sort of series that really doesn’t merit any further attention, not because it wasn’t a good series, but because its source material is pretty much dead. The cartoon series upon which the games were based has long since been canceled, and the games from the franchise are over twenty years old at this point, which doesn’t really give the franchise any sort of weight when one is attempting to pitch the idea of a resurrection. Duck Tales isn’t something like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that was popular for years and years, kicked around in various forms during its low period, and could manage a decent comeback with the proper momentum. The show was certainly popular for its time, to be certain, but Disney has done little with it since its cancellation, and there’s little to nothing for it to base a strong revival on.
So, why not just resurrect it as a video game franchise? Why bother? The original games were popular because of the time they were released and the developer (Capcom), neither of which is going to help the series now. Capcom most likely wouldn’t be called in to make the sequels/reboots, and Disney doesn’t exactly manufacture fantastic games most of the time, so there’s no reason to dig the franchise up and do anything with it. Trading on the name of a dead franchise that’s been out of circulation for longer than some people reading this have been alive doesn’t seem like a recipe for success, especially if the original developers aren’t on board in the first place, so I’m not too enthused about the idea in any way, really.
Also, there’s no point in a spin-off because the game already had a spin-off in Darkwing Duck, so there you go.
Alex Lucard – Sequel
As a big fan of Disney’s ducks I have to respectfully disagree with a lot of what my staff says. DuckTales is still around in comic form and the best selling comics worldwide are those featuring Scrooge McDuck and Donald Duck. Reprints of old Don Rosa or Carl Banks stories sell more than Superman or Spider-Man in a lot of foreign countries, so there is little doubt in my mind, that if released, another DuckTales game would sell – just maybe not in America. Even Darkwing Duck gets a new comic series starting in late June and there’s a lot of positive Internet buzz around it.
Would Capcom be involved? Probably not. Disney has its own games’ company know and a new DuckTales game. If Disney kept a tight rein on the developers and had them make a solid but simple platformer for the DS or WiiWare, it would probably be an enjoyable little title.
Again, it probably wouldn’t be a success in the US compared to international sales, but if we can get soccer games released here, which have the same issue, why not DuckTales?
Stay Dead – 3
Sequel – 1
Start Over – 0
Spin-Off – 0
Well all four of us enjoyed both the DuckTales cartoon and video game series, but I am the only vote hoping for another game in the same style and featuring the same character. Still, the one thing we all agree upon is the quality of the DuckTales franchise, and if another video game featuring Scrooge McDuck ever materializes, we can only hope it will be as good as the originals from the 8-Bit generation of gaming.