Tuesday, October 7, 2014

QuackShot starring Donald Duck (GEN) Review

Received: October 1st, 2014 / Written: October 7th, 2014
Alternate Name: I Love Donald Duck: Guruzia Ou no Hihou [|O|]
Year: 1991 | Developed by: Sega (AM7) | Published by: Sega
Off to a brand new adventure!
Hello everyone, StarBoy91 here; passionate about video games, big retrophile, and fan of all things 16-bit.  =)  So I was looking at my Genesis collection lately and was truly saddened to find how small it was.  When I bought a RetroGen cartridge that enabled me to play MegaDrive/Genesis games two years ago, it was my gateway to play Sega cartridges.  But how many Sega games did I get?  Three: Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse, World of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, and Rocket Knight Adventures.  All very good games in their own right, but aside from those I largely gathered more Super Nintendo and Super Famicom games.  Being a collector can be really difficult sometimes, especially when you focus on one thing more than the other.  =(  So, not wanting to make my RetroGen feel neglected I decided to order my fourth Sega game: QuackShot starring Donald Duck.
Egypt has never looked better =)
When the MegaDrive and Genesis consoles made their debut in 1988 and 1989 respectively it was home to many arcade ports and a few exclusive titles, and while that was all well and good many Sega loyalists felt the '80s were sorely lacking as far as Disney fare was concerned.  Then in 1990 Sega surprised everyone by releasing the smash hit Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse, which had simple yet fun gameplay and lots of charm going for it.  So naturally it made sense that the following year Sega AM7 would form up again to craft Donald Duck's foray to the 16-bit world.  The main difference from the aforementioned Mickey Mouse hit?  Plenty.  =)
Slip and slide
As Donald Duck visits Scrooge McDuck one day he browses over some books until a map which leads to the late Great Duck kingdom monarch King Garuzia's treasure catches his eye.  Legends say that following the map will take the explorer to his most prized possession.  Donald, overjoyed from this realization, gladly takes the opportunity to set out with his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie around the world to start his adventure.  Unfortunately he's not the only one after Garuzia's treasure, as Pete and his cronies have overheard Donald and decide to try to take things in his own hands.  Also unfortunately Donald leaves his girlfriend Daisy Duck behind and angry; Donald promises to make it up to her by coming back with a special gift for her.  Will Donald have luck in his worldly quest to seek the treasure?
Even underwater there are dangerous hazards
There are three controls in this game (which can be custom-set in the options): one to jump, one to shoot your plunger gun, and one to ru--really?  How is it that games on Nintendo systems have no problem with firing projectiles and running sharing the same button but with Sega games it's a no-no?  That was also the case with World of Illusion!  Anyway, the controls are simple and well-polished; Donald can shoot the plunger gun above him, ahead of him, while jumping and while he's ducking.  There are a few moments that will require him to climb stairs, and in order to slide through small gaps you press the jump button while holding down.  =)  And as the game progresses so too will your plunger.
Going up
This isn't one of those platformers where jumping on top of enemies does the job, for they can only be stunned and/or defeated with the unlimited arsenal of the plunger gun, which has got a long range.  When you start the game your plunger is yellow, and the only thing it can do is stun enemies.  Once you get a little farther in you'll be given the red plunger gun, which can still stun enemies but also be used to stick to walls to help you climb up higher areas (a few consecutive ones will be required), letting you bounce upward.  And once you get the green plunger gun it will still do all those things but also allow you to stick to birds with green vests on.  For alternative weapons there's the maize spread gun (which uses up five at a time) and the bubble gun (which can be used to dissolve certain surfaces).
"Oooh, just looking around.  Well, off to make
my string of cameos, start off a hysterical tour on
history, and join my son Max to save my neighbors
from pirates.  A-hyuck!"  =)
Sometimes enemies will drop off some items after you stun them while other times they are out in the open.  You'll notice in the HUD that there is a temper slot, which does exactly as you expect.  Should you collect five red hot chili peppers Donald will flail his arms and run very fast, unable to be hurt by any enemy for a temporary time.  It's nice to see this feature here but it's curious that you only get to see it, what, two or three times at least?  Oh well, it's nice to have anyway.  What's very novel about this game is the world travelling and the puzzling aspect, which makes things very refreshing considering its nonlinear in structure.  =D
Aurora Borealis, YAY!!!!!!  =D
Any time you reach the halfway point in an area (and you'll know it when it happens) Donald will set up a green flag for which he needs to stand next to in order to call the plane to help get to other parts of the world.  That's actually a necessity as some vital items that you're searching for in one area can be used to proceed in the other.  For example, in the palace of Maharajah you'll need to obtain the Sphinx Tear in order to open the door of the pyramid in Egypt.  At first you only have access to three countries, but after you beat Transylvania's Count Dracula you'll be able to travel to more places.  Things like these give QuackShot its very own adventurous feel, and I like the exploration aspect a lot and the way it all connects somehow.  =)

The visuals of the game are really colorful and polished to boot, and honestly it's a notch above Castle of Illusion in this regard.  Considering that the majority of the locations are real, the décor and atmosphere make the world seem huge.  And if that's not enough, plenty of areas have even got parallax scrolling to lend the areas depth.  That, and lots of detail that add a sense of variety.  Case in point, the outer area of Mexico with the cacti looming in the background, and when inside the temple it is huge and mysterious with torches and murals in the background.  The South Pole has got a very simple yet effective Aurora Borealis (I'm a sucker for those).  The pyramid area is dark except for the walls which showcase hieroglyphics, each of which are dimly lit and shaded; and Dracula's castle has got a cold feeling to the proceedings, especially the underwater section layered by decent dithering effects and bubbles flowing from time to time.  Simply put, a lot of the areas have got a great look to them.  =)

Jumping over the fiery pit of hell
Character and enemy-wise, they are well designed.  Donald, straying from his regular sailor garb this time around, looks really good as an explorer with a fedora on.  His animation is decent, even though when he runs it's just the walking animation sped up.  A lot of his personality and mannerisms have been faithfully recaptured, especially when he flares up.  The enemies are cool too, like the bats, the ghosts, the birds, the temple soldiers, and the assortment of mini-Petes that are working for Pete.  So Capcom's Mickey's Magical Adventure trilogy of games aren't the only ones with mini-Petes?  That's disheartening.  =|  Some of them wear different garbs depending where you are, and the boss designs are great (especially Count Dracula and Pete, who looks like a '30s mobster).

Going down to explore a mysterious temple
The MegaDrive/Genesis console was not known for having superior sound samples, resulting in a mixed bag.  And yeah, it's true, but Sega's 16-bit console did offer some good soundtracks.  QuackShot's in particular is good due to its range and appropriately adventurous feel, thanks in no small part by the atmosphere the music creates.  The Duckburg theme almost sounds like a harmonica of sorts, the Maharajah theme sounds appropriately Middle Eastern, and Count Dracula's castle is dark and menacing in theme.  One of my favorite songs is the temple theme where it's very low key, soft and brooding seguing to an eerie finish.  Rather effective.  The map theme is decent and the boss themes are cool.  One thing I noticed is that even though the sound samples aren't one of the strongest ones, the sound effects themselves sound crystal clear.  Huh!

Gyro: "What say we team up again in nine
years for Donald Duck: Quack Attack?"
QuackShot is actually a game that I was a bit hesitant to play, and the reason for that was because of the mixed opinions I've heard about it.  Common complaints whenever it came to Disney games were that they were short and easy, and this game was no exception.  I mean, okay, it is a bit on the easy side, I'll admit that much, but I still had fun with it.  I still thought it was engaging, and even so there were few attempts at challenge that I liked; like the maze-like palace in Maharajah where you had to go through the proper sequence of doors to reach your destination (took me awhile to find the proper path), or even times where Donald had to escape perils like fireballs and rooms closing in among others.  Some areas even have alternate pathways leading to your destination; plus there were moments when Donald was ziplining.

Someone must've complained about Castle of Illusion having a limited amount of continues because now QuackShot's number of continues were unlimited if ever you get a game over.  It's not exactly a big issue as it will send you to either the start of the world or the checkpoint you were in.  Though truth be told, it would've been nice had it had multiple difficulty settings; unlike Castle of Illusion where it had three difficulty modes QuackShot had one which really lessened the replay value.  Still, it's enjoyable and can be beaten in one sitting.  But there are some other criticisms that I didn't quite get; in particular the controls themselves, which IGN has been cited as calling "floaty", "making certain segments of the game unnecessarily difficult".  Um, what?  Have we been playing the same game?

Okay to be fair, yes, the jumping controls are a bit floaty, but how high or low or jump depends on how hard you pressed the jump button.  Running picks up speed and traction when you move, making access to some platforms attainable.  There are trial and error moments, in particular when finding the true path to the final boss, but... "unnecessarily difficult"?  Really?  Next thing you're going to tell me that ActRaiser 2 is impossible or that Ecco Jr. deserved that 2 out of 10 on NintendoLife.  >=P  Some moments did take me a bit to figure out, and when I did it became easy.  The usual Disney platformer was always linear and straightforward, so it's refreshing to play a game in the roster that literally goes in a different direction and is nonlinear.  =)

Stick it to 'im, Donald!
QuackShot starring Donald Duck was a real blast to play from beginning to end, which I had no problem playing through again after I beat it the first time.  It could've benefited better with more than one difficulty setting or even a bit of thorough challenge, but its nonlinear nature, great aesthetics, good charm, and intuitive play control more than make up for those grievances.  It takes about fifty minutes to beat depending on how you do, and I'm glad I finally gave this game a chance.  If you're in the mood for a fun Disney platformer, this game is a really good choice; if you expect it to be as fantastic as Castle of Illusion you may want to lower your expectations.  If you're looking for a nonlinear adventure, why not go for this one?  Just pay no heed to the low difficulty and you'll be fine, I guarantee it.  =)


<(^o^)^TO EACH THEIR OWN^(^o^)>
P.S. Yes, I'm fully aware that the title font is like that of Indiana Jones.  I don't mind, as it's very fitting for this game in my opinion.  ^-^
P.S. 2 Now that I finally got another MegaDrive/Genesis game in my collection, it's time to consider getting other games.  Choices I'm considering next: TaleSpin, Goofy's Hysterical History Tour, Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster's Hidden Treasure, Castlevania Bloodlines, Super Fantasy Zone, and maybe Sparkster: Rocket Knight Adventures 2.
P.S. 3 Nintendo gamers were saddened that they didn't get their own Donald Duck game to play in the '90s (not counting Maui Mallard of course).  Oh, but don't worry, QuackShot starring Donald Duck did eventually get its Nintendo 16-bit competition ... four years later ... in Japan ... exclusively Japan.  I still need to play Donald Duck no Mahō no Bōshi, which I'll get to as soon as I can.  =<
P.S. 4 How Goofy got inside the temple is anyone's guess.  And while it's nice to see Scrooge McDuck in Sega 16-bit form, I was disappointed that he was only a cameo here.  =(  At least I'll see more of him in the comics (where he's known as Paperon dé Paperoni since most Disney comics I read are Italian).  While I brought up Gyro Gearloose (Archimede Pitagorico in Italian) it was nice to see (albeit brief) his little helper Little Helper (boo, the American name is boring; "Edi" in Italian is more like it).  XD
P.S. 5 I'll consider giving proper reviews to Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse and World of Illusion staring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck in the future, since I properly gave a review to this game.
Thank you for reading my review, please leave a comment and let me know what you thought.  Take care!  =D

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