Tristan Kalogeropoulos
12 Feb, 2008

Looney Tunes: Duck Amuck Review

DS Review | Ready for a 'muck' around?
One cartoon that most opens the door to some form of interaction from the audience is the Duck Amuck episode of the beloved Warner Bros. Looney Tunes. In an acute moment of self awareness the animated short had Daffy Duck, trapped on the artist’s page, poked, prodded and defaced by an unseen animator – who it turned was the mischievous Bugs Bunny - whilst getting more and more irate as each dab of inky humiliation was slapped onto the page. Duck Amuck DS has its meddling pencil and paintbrush replaced with your stylus, and presents a gathering of mini games in one of the more original packages the system, and indeed gaming in general, has seen.

The first thing that stands out about Duck Amuck is its presentation. The sparse white expanse that stands behind the lone figure of Daffy in the opening screen is a bizarre contrast to the usual, incredibly traditional, menu based methods of interacting with the games we play. For a few seconds of the first time turning the game on you’ll sit there waiting for some sort of cue to inform you as to how to play. We have become so used to the grand gestures and flashing arrows telling us what to do with the so called interactive medium that when games get creative we can feel a little lost. It’s an indication of the creativity behind Duck Amuck and the open mind that is needed to get the most out of it.

Presented with such an unconventional opening and method for interacting with the game, the player then becomes part of ‘making’ the fun. The interesting thing is that no matter how much we have been indoctrinated into expecting a menu screen the waiting soon gives way to tapping and scratching of what's presented, and this is exactly what the game wants us to do. Dragging the stylus down the screen opens up a tear that irritates Daffy and opens up a mini game. Tapping on his head repeatedly causes him to walk of screen and come back with some paint cans which he assumes will divert your attention from drumming out beats on his skull, only to discover that instead most will dump the coloured goop directly on top of him, also starting a mini game. There can almost be as much fun had in the menu screen as there can be in the actual games. This will undoubtedly irritate some who usually enjoy focusing on high scores and level completion, but if you let go of those ideas there’s a Acme Industries sized load of fun to be had.

From just harassing Daffy on his blank background to actually playing the minigames, there's a lot of enjoyment to be had in Duck Amuck.

From just harassing Daffy on his blank background to actually playing the minigames, there's a lot of enjoyment to be had in Duck Amuck.
Duck Amuck’s minigames manage to present the player with some experiences that, whilst short, are usually quite a bit of fun. And unlike many collections on the system Each makes use of the platform’s idiosyncrasies. The issue with not having much in the way of written guidance is that often there’s a bit of Warioware-esque trial and error involved. This can become part of the fun, but at times the goal is a little obtuse. However, should you not be up for a guessing game, the objectives can be viewed by pausing. They’re all rather short, but for what they lack in length they make up for in variety.

One of Duck Amuck’s games has Daffy launched from a bow and coaxes the player to act as the wind, blowing into the DS’s mic in order to guide him to his target. Once the headspins caused by that are over there’s a series of other adventures to take the little black duck out on, most of which are drawn from various Warner Bros. cartoons. Duck Dodger’s space adventures, Drip-Along Daffy’s Wild West escapades and many others versions of Daffy all have their place amongst the minigame collection. The most talked about minigame is one in which you have to close the DS and guide Daffy in the dark using the shoulder buttons. The developers had to gain special permission from Nintendo to allow this. This sort of desire to be creative is a shining example of the imaginativeness that can go into creating for the DS. And it pays off, managing to deliver a heaping mound of fun.

Simple yet effective.

Simple yet effective.
The aim of all this messing around with Daffy is to get him so riled up that he blows his top, loses his temper and calls the whole thing off. Once each mini-game is completed Daffy once more appears against his white background, a thermometer next to him displaying how irritated he is. With each successive game completed he gets more and more angry with you until finally it’s all over. You do not need to play through all the minigames to finish. Each of these short challenges only has five brief rounds, meaning each play-through is reasonably quick. On the portable system this focus on quick games works well. Those looking for a title to get into for extended periods should look elsewhere, but if you’re just looking for a bit of fun to kill some time with, Duck Amuck is a great choice.

The game’s comedic delivery and timing is impeccable. Whilst much of the humour that is squeezed out of videogames is unintentional it is refreshing to find a title that is so competent in its attempts to elicit everything from a chuckle to a full blown laugh. The voicework complements the visual’s humorous stylings near perfectly. The art direction behind Duck Amuck is also incredibly well put together and is absolutely true to its origins.

It’s a rare event that a game based on a non-gaming IP captures the true spirit of its source material. So when you pick up a title that has so much soul and originality it's particularly refreshing. Duck Amuck is a great for some quick pick up and play gaming. It’s incredibly funny and the myriad of ways in which it uses the quirks of the DS are fantastic. What it lacks in longevity it more than makes up for in uniqueness and entertaining offerings.
The Score
Where many games tend to stick to well trodden gameplay paths when dealing with well know intellectual property, Duck Amuck is brimming with originality. Whilst it's not without some flaws, it is definitely worth checking it out, if not just to see what can be done with the DS.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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1 Comment
6 years ago
Sounds surprisingly good, I wasn't expecting much out of this one. icon_smile.gif Looks like WB are still able to make some good games.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  6/02/2008 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $49.95 AU
  Warner Bros Interactive Ent
  Action Adventure
Year Made:

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