In the first episode I am going to talk about 8-bit Donald Duck!
We are talking about Donald Duck games on the Sega Master System. And there were two of them – Lucky Dime Caper, released in 1991 and Deep Duck Trouble, released in 1993. And if you have not heard of them then it’s because they were Master System exclusive titles.
If you ask me, why I picked these games for the first episode – then my answer is related to the previous. Because of Donald Duck games, I got myself a Master System. Even though, I already had Genesis. I just really wanted to play those game s back in 1993-1994.
But let’s get going!
Lucky Dime Caper, a side-scrolling platformer was developed and published by Sega in 1991, as I already told before. The adventure unfolds when evil witch Magica De Spell steals Scrooge’s Lucky Dime and kidnaps Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Donald Duck, in the hope of a reward, embarks on a mission, traveling around the world to save his three nephews and recover Scrooge’s lucky dime.
This game is not exactly a walk in a park and gets quite challenging in the later levels. There are seven levels in total, including locations from Mexico to the South Pole, from mountains to a tropical island, the Pyramids and more.
Lucky Dime Caper was the first proper Donald platform game, something that fans of his had been clamoring for nearly a decade. The graphics are great! The Donald sprite looks and acts just like the “real” thing, considering it’s an 8-bit game, and the action is accompanied by reasonable sound.
The gameplay is similar to Castle of Illusion, which was released on both, Sega Genesis and Sega Master System a year before; but unlike Mickey, Donald can attack enemies by hitting them with a hammer or throwing discs. And he can also jump on them like in Super Mario.
You may like it or not, but enemy movements can be really unpredictable. Like some of the guys can sometimes throw projectiles, jump or run towards you, and it’s always randomized. Boss fights are rather easy, except the snake in the pyramids and maybe those two statues in Mexico. What I really liked about this game was it’s variety of challenges – in Mexico the screen suddenly rotates and stones start to roll, when lava drops down from the ceiling after it erupted, or lava drops melting the floor. Quicksand struggles in Egypt are always fun, gusts of wind when you are on ice and it’s already slippery. The last castle level with all the spikes, platforms, ghosts and skeletons is very challenging.
There aren’t many cheats or secrets in this game – but you can kill Donald and when the continue screen appears press Down + Button 1 and you should restart that level with infinite lives.
However, the most memorable trick you can use is stocking up. Whenever you kill an enemy, there is a chance that they will drop a power-up or even a life. Collect it, walk back a bit and then return. The enemy has respawned. Repeat this whenever you need to stock up.
Deep Duck Trouble is a sequel to Lucky Dime Caper, released in 1993. This time Donald Duck has to release his uncle Scrooge McDuck from a curse which has puffed him up into a floating balloon. The only way to do it is to return the mysterious pendant back to a shrine on an uninhabited island.
As with it’s prequel, the game gets very challenging at the later levels.
First you must make your way through four different areas of the island – the jungle, an inlet, a volcano, and a valley. And then you advance to the shrine in the center of island and these levels are tough as hell. But lets talk about it in a minute.
The gameplay is even more similar to the titles like Castle of Illusion and Duck Tales, where you could hit treasure boxes and bounce on them. I forgot to mention earlier that there were no treasure boxes in Lucky Dime Caper, none. You got all the power ups and treasures while killing enemies. Here it’s opposite. No treasures for killing animals. Which is actually nice, don’t you think?
Other notable difference is with boss battles. Unlike in Lucky Dime Caper, here all the boss battles, except the last battle, are escape sequences – escape from some animals like giant shark, giant monkey, giant bird, or escape from lava and rolling stones.
Biggest flaw in this game is a constant slowdown. Every time when there are more objects on the screen, the game goes into slow mode. I wish someone could create a hack, and eliminate slowdowns. Someone? Please! Other than that, the game is interesting and challenging. You get on of the most enjoyable underwater levels in the history, in my opinion.
And the shrine is where it gets tough. I mean, this sliding section with spikes, section with moving platforms, and finally a floating journey on a log – where you have to find a right way.
In conclusion, I have to admit that I liked both of them. Lucky Dime Caper is a bit better in my opinion – thanks to less slowdowns, more levels and more variety in level designs.