The Retrospective and Retrocursive Stances in Retro Game Aesthetics: How DuckTales: Remastered Got the Last Quack

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This chapter uses DuckTales: Remastered (WayForward 2013) as an exemplary case to understand the differing conceptions of authenticity and nostalgia that are mobilized when discussing the “retro” phenomenon. Retrospection involves looking backward towards the historical past from our contemporary present, while retrocursion involves walking backward and displacing ourselves into a historical past while maintaining our perspective firmly toward the contemporary present. The chapter examines the functions and presence of restorative and reflective nostalgia at work in DuckTales: Remastered, and the forms of its remixing that lead to its retro modern design. Through the different elements from its music, graphics, level and game design, bonus content and narrative, I argue that it respects and foregrounds the original 1989 video game’s now classic design, and also modernizes it through localized additions. Rather than erasing the past, this synthesis re-actualizes the original vision and improves on it by completing what had been left unfinished in the original, thus providing an occasion to reflect on video game history and the important role of retro as a historiographical tool.

2023, in The Intersection of Animation, Video Games, and Music: Making Movement Sing (eds. Lisa Scoggin & Dana M. Plank), Routledge, p.135-148. [Publisher website]