Nov 2, 2007
The Looney Tunes short, Duck Amuck, was built around a novel concept: a sadistic animator is given free reign over the existence of beloved character Daffy Duck. Using his pencil and paper, the animator subjects Daffy to all his crazy whims, driving the duck completely mad in the process. The short is considered one of the greatest pieces of American animation ever produced, and for good reason - it's absolutely brilliant. But when we heard that a game based on the short was being made, we were rather wary - given the track record of licensed games, we doubted the short could be done justice.
So imagine our surprise when we played Duck Amuck the game and found it to be not just above average, but quite good.
The goal of Duck Amuck is simple: You are to drive Daffy Duck stark raving mad. There are several means to accomplish this, but you officially "win" once Daffy's exploded in a spitting fit of crazy. This happens by discovering and playing various minigames - which can be a bit confusing at first, as Duck Amuck eschews a traditional game menu interface. In order to play these games, you must first discover how to access them, which requires you to poke, prod, and throw around Daffy a bit with the stylus until something happens, then figure out what to do from there. It's a bit weird at first, but once you learn how it works, it becomes incredibly amusing… for a while, anyway.
But how about the minigames themselves? We'd rather not describe them in great detail, as discovering and playing them for yourself is a good chunk of Duck Amuck's fun and appeal. There is a decent variety in the games available, and they have a great sense of humor and charm to them. (Animation fans may be able to catch references to other classic Looney Tunes shorts, as well.) However, the games lack the sort of addictive qualities that make you want to keep coming back for replays and higher scores. There's not much of an impetus to replay them, as the game doesn't keep track of scores. There are hidden items throughout the games that can be collected, which unlock a final game when they've all been accumulated, but there's little else to hold your interest after you've seen each game a couple of times.
And that's probably the biggest issue with Duck Amuck - it's a game primarily built on its great sense of humor, but once you've gone through all the games a couple of times and seen all of the gags, there's not much that would make you want to play this over one of the other minigame collections available on the DS. Yes, tormenting Daffy does make for great stress relief, but it's still hard not to feel a bit disappointed after you've exhausted everything the game has to offer - which probably won't take more than a few hours.
In spite of its flaws, Duck Amuck is a solid little game. It offers proof that it's possible to make a quality licensed game that also makes very good use of its source material. You'll enjoy it a lot while it lasts, but it's just a shame there isn't more Daffy here to love.