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DuckTales: Scrooge's Loot

For: iPhone   Also on: Android, iPad

Duckworth your time

Product: DuckTales: Scrooge's Loot | Publisher: Disney Mobile Studios | Format: iPhone | Genre: Action, Multiplayer, Shooter | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 2.0.1
DuckTales: Scrooge's Loot iPhone, thumbnail 1
This is a freemium game review, in which we give our impressions immediately after booting a game up, again after three days, and finally after seven days. That's what the strange sub-headings are all about. Click on the links to jump straight to day three or day seven.

Nostalgia is a powerful thing.

Exploit it in the right way and you can instantly captivate an audience by placing it in the company of beloved characters. But abuse it and you risk incurring the ire of fans, potentially toxifying the franchise for years to come.

The DuckTales (a-woo-ooh) IP lay dormant for years before Disney started toying around with it again. Having released an HD remake for home consoles, the studio is now "leveraging" the "brand" in a freemium game.

I've been assigned the task of letting you know whether Scrooge's Loot is any good. Read on to find out.

First impressions

So far, I'm impressed.

There's full voice-acting by members of the original cast, which lends the game an air of authenticity. The characters in the series have such distinct accents that a half-arsed job here would have instantly riled the fans. But Scrooge's Loot avoids that.

The famous song that plays during the show's intro has been remixed - shock horror - but it's a decent attempt. It uses the iconic slap bass rhythm section to underpin a menu theme that lasts longer than the 60 seconds of the TV program, minimising the number of times you'll hear it loop when prodding through screens.

The story is fairly light: Scrooge McDuck has had his gold nicked, and it's up to you to get it back with a little help from Launchpad McQuack.

A comprehensive tutorial walks you through the basics of play, explaining that you need to run about in an arena, shoot other players who aren't on your team, pick up gold bars, and then return them to your team's truck. It's all standard competitive multiplayer shooter stuff, but it works.

Taking the leap from 2D to 3D animation is fine, and since you play as a generic duck and not one of the named characters from the series you can't get annoyed at Huey, Dewey, or Louie not looking the part.

The engine runs smoothly, and there's a little of the cel-shaded, block colour look of the Nintendo DS Legend of Zelda games to the environments.

So far, all is well. Let's hope it stays that way.

Day 3: A Gearloose

DuckTales: Scrooge's Loot feels like an existing game that's been reskinned.

The third-person arena combat game - which contains hints of Team Fortress, Fur Fighters, and Blitz Brigade - controls remarkably well for a touchscreen shooter, thanks to a generous auto-aim facility. Aiming has always been a hassle in games of this ilk on mobile, but you only need to be roughly on target to lock on to your opponents.

IAPs explained
Gems are used for buying more playing time, speeding up your re-entry into a fight after you've been knocked out, and consumables. 100 of them are yours for £1.49 / $1.99, and they're a waste of your money. You can get by without them.

Coins are a different matter entirely, and are used for permanent upgrades to your character, their costumes, and their weapons. £1.49 will net you 2,000 Coins, but you can also get them through regular play and completing Tapjoy incentives.
You'll find that moving constantly is key - picking up the gold bars at one end of a level, taking them to your delivery point at the other, dodging fire whenever possible. Along the way you boost off of launch pads to go rocketing through the level, and blast your enemies with a wide selection of weapons.

Almost everything about your character can be customised, including class, weapon loadout, and cosmetics. Weapons can be upgraded too, ensuring they fire more powerful shots or reload more quickly.

While you're playing it's easy to get swept up in the action as you leap about levels, trundle treasure back to your base, and lay down covering fire for friendlies. Once the battle is over, building your XP up to access new equipment and improving the items you already have are as compulsive as ever.

But you quickly realise that the DuckTales licence adds nothing to the experience. The comedy weapons - toilets, plungers, spit ball cannons, and so on - impart a family-friendly quality, yet the appearance of Scrooge and his nephews doesn't add anything of value to the actual gameplay. You could replace the entire cast here with any other cartoon series and it would work just as well.

It might be a minor complaint in a game that otherwise works well, but it's disappointing that there's nothing truly DuckTales about Scrooge's Loot.

Day 7: Scrooge

Once you've got some decent time in with Scrooge's Loot and begun to focus on upgrading your character's stats in ways that actively benefit your own particular playing style, the game really digs its claws into you.

I've now become familiar with the maps - there are only a few of them - and figured out the areas where I can do the most good for my team. Sometimes I'll head straight to the loot and help carry it back to our base, but mostly I tend to find a vantage point, perch there, KO unsuspecting players, and steal their gold.

There isn't one tactic for every situation, though. On one occasion I was utilising this nefarious strategy when it slowly dawned on me that no one was coming past my hidey-hole any more. The other team knew where I was, were avoiding me, and scoring loads of points by swarming my short-handed team mates. This kind of flexibility is what makes the game great.

Scrooge's Loot has two issues at the moment, and while both of them are easily fixed, I suspect that only one of them will be.

The major one, and the easiest to fix, is that getting into games with your buddies is a real pain.

It's a shame, because the social element of the game has the potential to be excellent. You can add friends to a roster of peeps that you like playing with, and the game will tell you when they're online so that you can invite them to play.

But this is all for naught, as the matches time-out before they've even started, dropping your connection and occasionally crashing your game to the home screen.

The other headache comes from the IAPs. You're rewarded well at the beginning of the game, but pretty soon each upgrade becomes prohibitively expensive, forcing you to grind for currency. Unfortunately, you can't do that effectively, as you can only enter a handful of matches before you have to either wait for a timer to tick down or pay to play again.

One or the other is fine for me, but Scrooge's Loot does both and it feels miserly.

Curiously enough, this miserliness is just about the closest Scrooge's Loot comes to having a meaningful connection with the DuckTales universe.

But that's fine, because Scrooge's Loot is ultimately pretty great. Yes, the IAPs are a bit heavy-handed, and getting a group of friends together is more of a hassle than it needs to be at the moment, but when everything's working as it should it's a far better shooter than you might have imagined.

How are you getting on with the game? You can tell us and the rest of the PG community about your experiences by leaving a comment in the box below.
DuckTales: Scrooge's Loot
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 27 September 2013
Ignore the fact that this is attached to a licence, and look past the few faults it currently has, and you'll find that DuckTales: Scrooge's Loot is an excellent team-based multiplayer shooter, with solid controls and great visuals
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