DuckTales -Remastered- Official Game Soundtrack
DuckTales -Remastered- Official Game Soundtrack
Walt Disney Records
April 29, 2014
Buy on iTunes
The Ducktales -Remastered- Official Game Soundtrack packages together with the previously-unreleased soundtrack for the NES’ Ducktales (from Hiroshige Tonomura) with the all-new soundtrack for Ducktales Remastered (from Jake Kaufman). The soundtrack to the original NES classic Ducktales is one of those “things” that video game music aficionados have to know about. If you love video game music, you can hum “The Moon”. Why wouldn’t you be able to? With how many times that tune has been remixed in our popular culture it’s amazing that it hasn’t become as familiar as the classic “World 1-1”. Pretty bold statement, isn’t it? Again: If you love classic video game music you know exactly what I’m talking about. So good on Jake Kaufman for taking these iconic (And surprisingly short!) chiptunes and splattering the entire soundtrack with his own personal style. Hiroshige Tonomura be damned; this is a Kaufman soundtrack through and through. Multilayered chiptunes have been switched with heavily dense electronic sounds, mixing in playful trumpets and a delightfully retro sounding percussion. It’s really hard to point at a soundtrack and say “Oh, you can feel the passion in this soundtrack”. I’ll be honest; you can feel the passion Ducktales Remastered.
“Title Theme” suffers from a chronic case of “way-too-short-for-its-own-good” syndrome, but that isn’t really a bad thing. Far from it, in fact! If you’ve ever heard the theme song to “DuckTales”, it’s stuck in your head. Kaufman has brilliantly chosen to begin this cover with an 8-bit intro, before adding in orchestral sounds with bombast and an incredible amount of self-control. What his remix turns this iconic television theme into is an 8-bit chorus powering through a playful orchestra. It is, sadly enough, 56 seconds long. This is the most minor of minor nitpicks, but I believe that when you’ve found something that really, really works in a video game soundtrack, it deserves a little more of an extension. Spoiler alert: This song contains my only real criticism for the soundtrack. “Money Bin”, perhaps a bit too fast to be considered easy to memorize, is still one of the most energetic songs on such a hyperactive soundtrack. Imagine Scrooge McDuck swimming through his bank of money; that’s this song in a nutshell. This is one of Mr. Kaufman’s original tracks for the OST and it has his masterful fingertips all over it’s composition. Bouncing synths, speedy percussion, and layers upon layers of complexity. There’s just so much going on here, every time you give “Money Bin” a listen you’ll find something new. For example: I originally thought that the main backing instrument was the strings. Its actually a bass section! Small world.
Let’s go back to talking about the remixes. “The Amazon”, “The Himalayas”, “The Moon”, and “Transylvania” are easily the four most memorable tracks from the original NES game. I could dedicate this entire paragraph to talking about Mr. Kaufman’s magical remix of “The Moon”, but that’d do a disservice to his masterful work on the other songs. “The Amazon” has a deservingly jungle-like feel, with rustling bells and banging drums giving the song that “wild” aesthetic. Kaufman, like with his remix of “Title Theme”, uses 8-bit chips for the main chorus for much of these songs. It works especially well in “The Amazon”, sometimes sounding like he is using a pan-flute. It’s easy to whistle along with. “The Himalayas” diverges from the chiptune aesthetic in an interesting way; the chips finding themselves cut off with a wild, raging guitar that plays the level’s main theme with gusto and power. For the rest of the song, the chiptunes blend in and out from the background. I’ve already praised “The Moon”, so I’ll praise it some more. The strings in this cover are gorgeous; they supply the ethereal quality the original song. It is a safe answer, but this is the highlight of the album. “Transylvania” chooses a fittingly spooky synth to drive the song, but it’s the strumming bass that creeps in the background that’s the star of the show. The decision to include a dupstep breakdown later in the song is a nice touch that separates it even more from the level themes before it. Great, great work by Mr. Kaufman.
Honestly, I could go on and on about how fantastic the remixes are and creative or liberal some of the choices can be, but that’d be dancing around with the greatest positive of the album. In the original NES game, the songs weren’t particularly long. The album itself comes with the first games chiptune score and it’s perfect way to show truly what Jake Kaufman has done with the songs. Let’s take “Boss Battle”, for instance. In the first game? It’s a minute long track. It’s fairly minimalist; it sounds intense, and that’s about it. In Ducktales Remastered? It’s a pounding guitar heavy piece that wouldn’t be out of place in something like David Wise’s Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze soundtrack. It’s also two minutes and fifty six seconds long! Now, every track in this album follows the standard video game OST procedure. One loop of the song, and then a fade out. This means that in the original game “Boss Battle” was only a thirty second piece. Mr. Kaufman took one of the shortest songs in the game and nearly doubled the length, working from nothing more then his own creativity. The skill it takes to recompose such a, to be frank, nothing piece is to be greatly commended. Jake Kaufman is one talented man.
“Ducktales Theme and Credit Medley” is a fantastic, nostalgia-fueled capper to such a phenomenal soundtrack. What better way to end the game with the classic song that started it all? DuckTales, woo-hoo! (I’m never typing that ever again, I’m already humming it). Here we get something that completely caught me off guard while I was listening in preparation for my review. Kaufman cuts the original title theme out and replaces it with another remix. Here we get what is, in my personal head-canon, the missing end of the games “Title Theme”. It pains me that it was included into the end of the credits. This isn’t really a criticism (I promised you that was only saved for the start), but it is oddly bizarre to suddenly cut back to Jake Kaufman’s music. The transition does come right out of nowhere. It does work in it’s own, weird way, but it’s just something you have to hear to understand. Imagine if in the middle of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, right when we’re about to get to the classic guitar breakdown that rocked the Wayne out of our Worlds, it suddenly cut to the low-key piano that began the epic song. It’s a minor of minor nitpicks, nor is it something that truly bothers me, but it deserved to be addressed. I’d love to hear someone take this part of the song and mash it up with the “Title Theme”. Call me a dreamer, but I think it’d work!
DuckTales -Remastered- is a treat for the ears. If ever there was a textbook for modern platformer level themes, this is one of the finer examples. Jake Kaufman has injected his clear love for the classic chiptunes that lingered in the minds of any NES gaming aficionados, and I applaud him for how he chose to expand on the themes rather then simply remaster. While one or two of the tracks might be missing in a little something extra, Ducktales Remastered makes up for it with the sheer fun it presents to the listener. The inclusion of the original 8-bit songs (including chiptune covers of Jake Kaufman’s own music for the game!) is a nice, nostalgic touch. If only it could let “Title Theme” play for a little while longer. Just a little. A smidgen.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on September 8, 2015 by Chris Hayman. Last modified on September 9, 2015.