Retro Corner: Darkwing Duck (NES)

587215_59397_frontWe’re going super old school with this one, folks. Based on the mildly popular cartoon of the same name, Darkwing Duck features our favorite scourge of the night as he attempts to thwart the evil organization F.O.W.L. (The Fiendish Organization for World Larceny). As a bit of an anecdote about myself: the very first video game system I owned was actually a GameBoy pocket that I got from my parents, as well as three games. Of these games included Yoshi, Home Alone 2, and Darkwing Duck (which happens to be the order I played them in, too). Somehow, the best of the three games turned out to be the last one I tried, and let me tell you this game is surprisingly great.

Now hold on a gas-sucking second, I thought the title said this game was on the NES? Well, it was originally released in America for the NES in 1992 and then ported to the GameBoy in 1993. The gameplay is more or less the same, just with less color and a status bar at the bottom of the screen. The game plays almost exactly like your typically NES Mega Man game and is even developed by Capcom as well. In Darkwing Duck’s case, he fires at enemies with his trusty gas gun which could shoot regular single shots or could be equipped with one of three auxiliary power-ups. There was the Heavy Gas which ran along the ground, Thunder Gas which shot in front at 45 degree angles up and down, and the Arrow Gas which could create momentary platforms. However, these add-ons consume gas, which had to be regulated by picking up Gas Canisters throughout the level.

darkwingduck_nesThere are a couple things that D.W. has on the Blue Bomber, though. For one, our feathered friend has the ability to create a shield from projectiles with his cape by pressing Up. He can also grab onto stage obstacles like hooks, ziplines, switches, and I-beams and hang from them, which increasing the platforming aspect in the game. So while this game essentially recycles the Mega Man (not a bad thing to emulate, I might add), it adds some unique elements that you wouldn’t get when you’re thwarting good ol’ Dr. Wily’s plans.

Speaking of villains, Darkwing Duck has quite a few interesting ones, mostly taken from the cartoon, and a lot of them have very funny names including Bushroot, Liquidator, Megavolt, and my favorite Moliarty (Sherlock anyone?). While the graphics certainly aren’t anything to write home about, the music is fairly kickass. The tracks are lively, and I can’t help but think they could have words set to them as well. They have a certain doo-wop/jazzy feel to them and are very fitting for fighting crime on the city streets.

This game has a few notable downsides though. One major one (in the GameBoy edition anyway) is the amount of framerate loss that occurred. This is pretty astounding for a GameBoy game, I think. And while I struggled to beat this as a kid, I feel like it’d be a complete cakewalk now that I’m older. I guess you could consider a more casual Mega Man game. Still, while nostalgia has a great hold on me, I think this game was great for the time and even holds up today. Plus, Darkwing Duck is a hilarious hero.


  • Framerate loss in an NES/GameBoy game is odd.
  • Can be quite easy and short for those used to the more unforgiving Mega Man franchise.


  • Great, upbeat music that fits the crime-busting atmosphere well.
  • A variety of moves to distinguish D.W. from the Blue Bomber.
  • Darkwing Duck is just plain cool.


I am the terror that flaps in the night.



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