Sunday, March 29, 2015

VGR Duck Amuck

Inside a DS cartridge, no one can hear a duck scream for help...

VGR: Looney Tunes: Duck Amuck 
From WayForward Technologies/Warner Bros. Games 
Played on Nintendo DS
Also available on /

Type Mini-game compilation/random
Year 2007

The Looney Tunes has always been such a fun colorful beloved franchise. It's no wonder this cult classic cartoon series has spawned so many games and movies over the years.

Originally, Duck Amuck was a 1953 Looney Tunes animated short directed by Chuck Jones, part of the original Merrie Melodies series. It is mostly known as being one of the most memorable and unique shorts. It featured Daffy Duck being tormented by some outside force (thought to be an unseen animator). The short begins with Daffy playing musketeer... until someone starts messing with the scenery. And after that it would mess with Daffy directly, clothing, the setting, etc... until it is finally revealed in the end to be Bugs Bunny messing with Daffy all along!

It's easily one of the better early 1950s Looney Tunes classics. In fact the entire premise would be later reused in 1955 in Rabbit Rampage which saw Bugs Bunny going through the same plot.

Well, this short was also the inspiration behind this 2007 Nintendo DS game Looney Tunes: Duck Amuck.

The game was designed by the pretty popular 2D-expert studio WayForward Technologies, also responsible for the popular handheld series Shantae, Might Switch Force, Contra 4, the Boy and His Blob remake on the Wii and also this underrated favorite of mine Batman: The Brave and the Bold – The Videogame.

The game has no "real" plot whatsoever, besides following the same basic rough lines of the cartoon.

In this case the external force messing with Daffy and the environment is the player. Which when you think about it works pretty nicely into the concept of "Duck Amuck".

Only this time it begins with Daffy apparently about to star in a Super Mario Bros.-style platformer before the background disappears... from then on it's up to you, the player, to annoy Daffy Duck!

The goal of the game is to drive him mad! That's it! If his rage meter is filled up, the "story" ends.

To do so you must challenge Daffy in all sorts of game or just find ways to abuse him. If Daffy wins those challenges, then he will slightly calm down.

In the end, the one messing with Daffy all along turns out to be... a pretty strange Nintendo DS player.  There's also a secret ending if you can find every single hidden thing in the game (let's call it the "nuclear option").

Daffy is voiced in this game by regular voice actor Joe Alaskey.

You "control" this game by interacting with Daffy Duck with the stylus directly.

The objective of this game is to simply make him angry. Honestly I wouldn't recommend rushing it, as once that's done the game's over, credits roll. And that would only really take you about a couple of hours at most.

The game is better enjoyed through short gaming sessions, since these "Gags" or challenges/mini-games are not that great on longer playthroughs.

The game features over 20 mini-games! (They say "50", but I wouldn't call some of those real games.)

To launch these mini-games you have to either mess Daffy directly in front of the blank canvas or try to find ways to interact with the setting. For example you can rip the white background in the upper corner of the screen, which will make Daffy look for duct tape which will set you for a mini-game.

The game doesn't have any proper "HUD screen". To find the hidden option menus you need to throw Daffy to the right to access the multiplayer modes or to the left to be able to scroll through all the "Gags" unlocked so far.

The idea is to experiment with this main canvas to look for the sequences. If you tap on Daffy's body for example, a rubber will appear to erase a part of his body, which you will get to redraw to enter racing mini-game. It's random, but looking for these mini-games is a lot more fun than playing those.

If you have no idea what to do you can look for hints in the mini-game hidden screen.

Duck Amuck tries to use as much controls of the DS as possible. These random mini-games will have you blowing on the microphone, bending the screen, etc.

Where the game truly shines is through the gorgeous visuals like they were directly taken from the cartoon. WayForward did an outstanding work on this front. Lovely animations. I like how a lot of these scenes play with both the DS screens.

The controls of the games can get a bit repetitive and frustrating at times. Specially since the game ditch you in these sequences without much information and it's up to the player to understand what to do. (In that sense it's almost retro.)

But the music and sounds are simply perfect, nothing to complain here.

Duck Amuck is the most fun when it's leaving you come up with creative situation when in front of the blank backdrop, poking Daffy in-between minigames. There's no real user input so you have no idea what you need to do. You're just left on your own, trying and searching for ways to trigger these Gags. 

Where I have some issues is that playing these mini-games can feel like a chore at times. They're not really fun and outside of getting new animation sequences they're not much to look forward to. They feel limited. It's kind of a wasted opportunity.

But the gorgeous work that was put on recreating the art is simply amazing to ignore. They've entirely redrawn and animated these characters from scratch. (Here's a shot for the comparison)

The game has a great art style. While I wouldn't exactly consider this just "a game", the experience, sound and fun animation really sells this Looney Tunes: Duck Amuck in my eyes.

It's not just a compilation of mediocre to average mini-games. But a fun, unique, bold recreation of an animated short through the videogame medium.

With a fantastic characterization of the classic Daffy Duck.

It's such a fun, if random experience.

The game has tons of hidden little easter eggs. A few cameos of other Looney Tunes starring in these mini-games, lots of fun references animation fans will recognize from classic Looney Tunes material.

The game features a few video game parodies like the top-down dungeon inspired by the Atari 2600 classic Adventure, or Brain Age or Cooking Mama redone in arcade style mini-games (think Wario Ware).
Simply gorgeous animations and art which honestly is the real true showcase of the entire game.

If rushed, you will miss most mini-games and animations that can be found. And the game can be pretty short only around 2 hours at most. But it's really fun to just play this occasionally and try looking for new stuff and thinker with Daffy around. Also you will need to find every possible interaction to unlock the final game!

Duck Amuck also allows several wireless multiplayer features. Either by joining four players against Daffy or battling each other.

Overall, it's a fun fantastic experience thank to a pretty solid animation work, recreating this digital Daffy through sound and voice acting. Truly the highligh of this entire game to be honest.

More than a game, it's a unique random experiment. While most older gamers won't probably find much to look at in what appears to be a glorified smartphone app if you're not big fan of the Looney Tunes or animation in general, younger players can surely have a great time playing with Daffy. Or just finding ways to annoy him.

There are a lot of stuff to interact with and do here actually. A lot are hidden actions you can perform. It's a great fun time waster, for a couple of hours at most, but it's well worth messing with.

Think of this as your own personal portable Daffy Duck. All you need is a DS in your pocket!
I give it:
2 / 3 Felixes!

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