DS

North America

Looney Tunes: Duck Amuck

by Evan Burchfield - October 30, 2007, 9:54 pm PDT
Total comments: 11

7

Looney Tunes, by Charlie Kaufman.

Duck Amuck for the DS is the first game I've played that attempts to faithfully translate its source into a game without shoehorning the material into an established genre or style. The origin for this game is a fourth-wall-breaking cartoon starring Daffy Duck. The cartoon begins with Daffy making an idiot of himself in a medieval context, but soon the environment disappears and Daffy finds himself communicating with an unseen animator who is abusing his or her god-like power. The game follows a similar path, beginning with Daffy standing in front of a white screen, addressing you as the player of the game, and admitting that he is merely bits of code inside your Nintendo DS.

The game's goal is to irritate Daffy until his frustration meter fills up. Using the stylus, you can pick Daffy up, poke him in the eyes, or ignore him if you want. Each of these things has different consequences, and eventually Daffy will start to respond, usually leading to one of twenty mini-games. If you choose to ignore Daffy, he may start talking obsessively about himself, and a volume dial will show up which allows you to turn his voice off, leading to another game. Other times, Daffy may pull out pails of paint, and depending on which color you use and how you use it, you could find yourself in an entirely new context (outer space, a concert hall, and medieval England among them).

Interacting with Daffy is merely a ruse that leads to mini-games, but it is so true to the original cartoon, and just as fleshed out, that it ends up being more fun than the mini-games, which are on the whole pretty uninteresting. Most of the time, the games are funny more than they are fun, and that is Duck Amuck's saving grace. The best example is when Daffy demands he should be in a "stragety" game and is put into (his words) "a low-budget game from the 70s" that resembles something from the Atari era. Later, he demands to be made "next-gen," but the results look more like early PlayStation than anything else. Daffy's status as a piece of programming code is as strong here as his status as a drawing was in the original cartoon. This keeps the game's tone light and funny, yet subversively self-aware; Daffy will talk about the "programmers" of the game often, and if you lose a mini-game, he will taunt you in a way only gamers could understand. The humor of the game comes from Daffy's understanding of video games: he possesses more awareness than most game characters do, but he's still Daffy Duck, which means he makes assumptions that get him in trouble. The reward for playing the game is hearing Daffy quack jokes and watching him jump around like a fool. The animation and voice acting are understandably top-notch.

Since the game is controlled mostly by your stylus, the mini-games sometimes grow repetitive; the developer shows ingenuity even within this restriction and makes a few winners to plop next to the simple and unimaginative bulk, specifically one that you control by opening and closing the DS. On the other end of the spectrum are the typical "solve the puzzle" or "race to the finish" games that are only sometimes saved by Daffy's humor. Most of the games at least pose a reasonable challenge, but only because the developer has made each one several levels long with steadily rising difficulty, and this makes the game even more repetitive. Three mini-games are available in a two-person multiplayer mode that doesn't add to the experience. After you have "discovered" a mini-game by annoying Daffy, it is sorted into a handy list that can be accessed at any time. This makes replaying each one easier, but unfortunately, playing a game from this menu does not add to Daffy's frustration meter, which is the game's ultimate goal (please note, the manual infers that you can add to the meter from this menu, but in practice this simply isn't true).

Overall, Duck Amuck is a surprise that continues to be surprising as you play it. Though the game feels the need to fulfill certain gameplay obligations with multiple and unnecessary mini-games, it goes so much further than other licensed products by focusing on what exactly makes a cartoon good, and asking whether that can make a game good too. The game creates the impression that Daffy is living inside your DS; his character and personality dominate this game more than any other licensed product I can think of. As an innovative first try, Duck Amuck is a success.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
10 10 8 6.5 7.5 7
Graphics
10

There's a slight graphical interruption when the game switches between the animated Daffy and the in-game Daffy, but other than that, the game's presentation is flawless, simple, and effective. It attempts to look like a cartoon and succeeds.

Sound
10

Daffy talks through the entire game, and although the recording quality is lowered by compression, the performance is great. It feels like Daffy is inside your DS.

Control
8

Everything is handled by the stylus, and there are a few mini-games and situations where it is not as responsive as it ought to be. The game's multiple uses of the DS microphone and one stand-out use of the DS's sleep feature are worth noting. In many ways, learning to control Duck Amuck is the core of the gameplay.

Gameplay
6.5

Half of Duck Amuck's gameplay comes from discovering how to access the different mini-games, which is done by interacting with Daffy. This half of the game, though not amounting to a ton of gameplay, is more compelling and interactive than any other DS game I've played. The other half of Duck Amuck is mostly uninspired mini-games controlled with the stylus. This makes the game more drudgery than it ought to be with such an inspired concept.

Lastability
7.5

Since it is a mini-game collection, there is some solid replayability here. The game is short, but once you complete it, there is the extra challenge of getting high scores in each mini-game for rewards. The developer also added a couple of fun devices that record your voice and allow you to doodle.

Final
7

The game strives for more than it actually achieves. As a mini-game collection, it's a failure at worst, and average at best; as a subversive franchise aberration, it gets a lot of things right. Here's hoping this game is a sign of more to come.

Summary

Pros
  • Cheeky, self-aware sense of humor
  • Graphics and sound feel like original cartoon
  • Innovative ideas throughout
Cons
  • Filled with mini-games, most of which aren't fun
  • Some games are too hard, others too easy
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

ShyGuyOctober 31, 2007

If this was $20 I think I would pick it up.

vuduOctober 31, 2007

Ditto; it sound like it would be fun for a couple of hours, but definitely not worth dropping $30 on.

Can I get a Hell Yeah?

WanderingNovember 01, 2007

A game that revolves around interacting with one fleshed-out NPC? Sounds like Galatea (scroll down).

AVFebruary 12, 2009

Quote from: ShyGuy

If this was $20 I think I would pick it up.

Today I picked it up at Curcuit City going out of business sale for $10.99 . This was the last copy on the shelf. My Girlfriend has my DS Lite right now but since I read reviews like this and remember it being quirky and fun I didn't think $10 was to much asking price for this. I can't wait to play and fool around with it

vuduFebruary 13, 2009

Quote from: vudu

Can I get a Hell Yeah? 

I remember when I did this for a week.  It was fantastic.

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusFebruary 13, 2009

Hell Yeah!

Now I really want to play this game! Perhaps I'll find a used copy somewhere. I didn't know you get to interact with Daffy.

I'd pick up Duck Amuck for $10 if I saw it.

AVFebruary 14, 2009

my girlfriend said tomorrow she will bring over my ds. I think before the movie starts we will have time to play a little.

So I should have some impressions by the end of the week. I really look forward to it. It's sort of fun to play something that I know will be totally fresh and new experience and since $11 its not a hard pill to swallow if I don't enjoy it.

Thank You , Youtube !

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKQfs82SHOo The Original cartoon

and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78iMyjpAa48 DS Game Teaser

AVFebruary 15, 2009

ok i played it a little last night and its pretty cool. my girlfriend and i were LOLn and having fun. The mini-games seemed a little random and last to long and sort of throw you right in without any direction. The game is really "meta" and a little jarring but I like it.

Found it for $14 at Target. I like it, although I probably won't keep it long. After you've seen all the minigames, there's not a whole lot else to do. Daffy himself is hilarious, as usual. If you can find it as a rental (good luck), I'd almost suggest that over buying the thing.

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Looney Tunes: Duck Amuck Box Art

Genre Party/Parlor
Developer WayForward Technologies
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: Looney Tunes: Duck Amuck
Release Oct 09, 2007
PublisherWarner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
RatingEveryone
eu: Looney Tunes: Duck Amuck
Release Nov 30, 2007
PublisherWarner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Rating3+
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