I hope you treat yourself to a little self-promotion. I’m a co-host of a podcast about Disney in the 90s, which (simply enough) is called Disney in the 90s. Our next episode is about one of my favorite cartoons when I was growing up: Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers. In order to prepare for the podcast, I not only watched some episodes of the show, but also played through Capcom’s classic Rescue Rangers games for the NES.
When you think of Capcom’s Disney games for the NES, DuckTales is probably the first one that comes to mind. And it should! DuckTales is not just a fantastic licensed game – it is one of the best NES games. To be clear, I’m not going to argue that the Rescue Rangers games are better than DuckTales.
The first Rescue Rangers game appeared in 1990. It is the one I remember as a child. Rescue Rangers offers two-player co-op, which was great for me and my two brothers. We could play together and each of us pick our favorite chipmunk (Dale for me, thanks).
Rescue Rangers is great because it’s so fluid and fun to play. Capcom was a master of 8-bit side scroller. The games always have precise controls so that the platform and action can be easily removed. Rescue Rangers’ design focuses on picking up objects and throwing them at enemies. In this regard, it’s a bit like Super Mario Bros. 2, although the pace is faster and it’s not that difficult.
Rescue Rangers is heavy enough by modern standards, but it doesn’t come close to the brutality of other NES games like Ninja Gaiden or even Capcom’s own Mega Man series. As a child, I couldn’t beat it without the help of a certain game genius, but I enjoyed repeating the same first levels with my brothers.
Things have changed today. For one thing, I no longer have to play Rescue Rangers on the NES. In 2017, Digital Eclipse released the Disney Afternoon Collection for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. This awesome compilation contains every NES game based on these legendary Disney cartoons, including both Rescue Rangers games.
That’s how I went through Rescue Rangers this week. And while the chaos of two-player co-op is fun, managing the experience yourself is easier. Now that I grew up, it was much easier for me to get through the adventure. OK, I’ve used the collection rewind feature a few times to undo time-wasting errors. Judge gone.
But I was impressed with how much I still enjoy Rescue Rangers on the NES. Part of it is the nostalgia of playing a beloved children’s game based on a cartoon I love, but the platform still feels sharp, even compared to modern side-scrolling classics like Shovel Knight.
Thanks to the Disney Afternoon Collection, I was also able to play Rescue Rangers 2. Unlike the first one, I didn’t have this game as a child. Not many people have done it. Rescue Rangers 2 came out incredibly late in the NES lifestyle and was released in the United States in 1994. The damn PlayStation was released in the United States in 1995.
So it is surreal to play a game that is so familiar and yet new. Basically, Rescue Rangers 2 is mostly just like the first game. It’s a one-player or two-player side scroller that’s about picking up things and throwing them at enemies. But Rescue Rangers 2 is one of the best looking NES games you’ll ever see. It is clear that Capcom has pushed the outdated hardware to its limits. I was also impressed to see how much more Capcom emphasized the story in the sequel, including several cutscenes. Sure, they’re primitive by today’s standards, but it makes Rescue Rangers 2 feel more like an episode of the show than a licensed video game.
However, the biggest improvement comes from music. The first Rescue Rangers have an OK soundtrack, but Rescue Rangers 2 has some fantastic tracks. Just listen to the song for Area H.
Oh yes, that’s the stuff.
I have some problems with Rescue Rangers 2. The bosses are annoying compared to the first game. Each hit requires too many hits to fall, so the battles drag on. But otherwise it’s a worthy sequel.
I had a great time in both games. And since the Disney Afternoon Collection includes four more games, including both NES DuckTales games, it’s quite simply one of my favorite retro compilations. If you don’t own it and love classic 8-bit games, you should really download the collection.
If only switch could happen.
RetroBeat is a weekly column that focuses on the past of games, classics, new retro titles, or how old favorites – and their design techniques – inspire today’s market and experiences. If you have any retro style projects or balls you would like to send me, please contact me.