Looney Tunes: Duck Amuck
Daffy Duck is one of Warner Brothers’ most famous icons. He appeared alongside Bugs Bunny in many animated features as a complementary screwball type character. He always put himself above others and the only things which could divert his attention away from his vanity were sparkling, priceless gems. Such a lovable duck!
Anyway, there was one short film that was produced back in the heydays of 2D animation - Duck Amuck. It wasn’t your typical cartoon with a defined setting and storyline. Instead, Daffy was placed in a series of scenarios created by an unknown artist. It was amusing to watch the creator (revealed to us in a surprise ending) put Daffy in a farm only to have him walk into a winter wonderland a few seconds later. He would also generally muck around with the duck: turn down the volume during his monologues, paint him up in different colours, or else rub him out of the picture completely. It was hilarious. Duck Amuck fully deserves its second place spot in The 50 Greatest Cartoons: As Selected by 1,000 Animation Professionals.
Duck Amuck for the DS is essentially an interactive version of the animated short. But now, YOU are the creator. That’s right, you get to mess around with Daffy yourself and the general idea is once again to annoy him until he reaches boiling point (as indicated by a blood pressure gauge). This is done through a selection of minigames that you’ll have to trigger by touching hotspots while Daffy is on screen doing his thing. You can slice the screen to create a tear which he’ll promptly apply duct tape onto. Tap the area again to rip it off and lo and behold - a minigame ensues! As you can imagine, it’s quite fun to figure out how to start each minigame going (there are hints provided to help you unlock ones you have yet to uncover). It can be a bit slow at times, though. Sometimes you’re left waiting for Daffy to bring up some options and during these brief recesses there’s just awkward silence.
But the voice work is not to be sniffed at. Just like in the animated short of the same name, Duck Amuck is full of slapstick Daffy comedy. As I said, the game is all about causing him grief, but oh is it ever so priceless to hear his hilarious retorts! It’s a shame then that there’s not a heck of a lot to listen to; or play through, for that matter.
There are twenty two different minigames ranging from the absurd to the bizarre. One has you slicing and dicing vegetables to mix into a boiling pot. Fill it up with enough nutritional goodness and you’ll be able to cut Daffy loose from his noose and dunk him into the stew. Another one involves firing Daffy out of a cannon aiming not for the bulls eye target, but at the stack of dynamite which lies just behind or above it. “KABOOM!” indeed. It sounds like a blast and it is, if you’re watching all this unfold that is. Playing it is an entirely different story.
Most of the minigames are much too simple. That duck stew cooking game involves a few swipes and taps with your stylus as the veges appear before you. Another transports Daffy into a 3D tube where you have to make him fall prey to a chasing Marvin the Martian. Here you must rotate the tube to guide Daffy into bombs, avoiding the boost pads that’ll help him escape. It’s over before you know it. And there are no higher difficulty challenges to tackle either.
“It sounds like a blast… Playing it is an entirely different story.”There are a few games that are more complex, but needlessly so. One requires you to tap arrows on a grid to align them so that once you rotate a wheel on the bottom left corner, an electrical current will pass unimpeded through the grid to power up the switch on the other side. Pull the switch at that time and you’ll transport Daffy right into the laser that Marvin the Martian has shot out. Doing all this is simply just not fun. Even the blowing game where you have prevent Daffy from lighting up the lamp upstairs by blowing out his candle - holding back your breath should he mistakenly bring some dynamite instead - could’ve had more to it than just the few puffs now and again. Near the end it does start to get more interesting with a leaking ceiling dripping some water, but then you suddenly get an abrupt mission-accomplished screen. Way to be a spoilsport, eh?
Once you have irked Daffy enough, you’ll discover who the new creator of this animated-short game is. The ending isn’t going to win any awards for originality, but the game’s idea might. Duck Amuck is a faithful recreation of the original six minute cartoon filled with the same exact humour and audiovisual charm. It’s disappointing to see that the minigames aren’t of the same standard. Some of them, like the fat-pixelled ‘adventure game’ where you have to guide a precious diamond away from the greedy mitts of the wisecracking duck, are fun while they last (which isn’t very long). Others are just lame, full stop. This is an excellent case of style dripping over substance and if you can forgive its dire lack of the latter, you’re sure to enjoy what laughs you’ll get out of it.
Five out of ten
- Based on an all-time classic animated short
- Poking and prodding Daffy is fun
- Animation exudes a very cartoonish charm
- Voice work is marvellous
- The mini-games... oh, the humanity!