Anyone remember a classic Lonney Tunes cartoon from way back in the 50's where an off screen animator (who later turned out to be none other than Bugs Bunny himself) ends up tormenting Daffy Duck for a good six minutes?
Well this cartoon clearly is the inspiration for this game, where players are simply encouraged to pick on Daffy until he gets so naffed off he blows his stack. The underlying problem is that, while the presentation is through-the-roof awesome, the actual games that holds everything together absolutely stinks. It's a strange balance of love/hate; as a virtual interactive cartoon, the designers did a fantastic job. As a game, well...it really needs work.
Players can poke and prod at Daffy and he will react in an amusing and lifelike fashion. You can rub out his lower half, and draw in a new one, or destroy the background and Daffy will furiously try to patch it all together with sticky tape, and thanks to the use of seemless extensive video sequences that meld with interactive sprites this is absolutely brilliant! Picking on Daffy will trigger mini-game events but to reveal them in this review would ruin half the game's fun, charm and cool sense of discovery. Which means I won't ruin all the surprises and reveal the different ways to torment the poor guy. Instead, I'll just jump right into the mini-games themselves.
Be afraid. Be very afraid. Usually when you get a collection of mini-games, generally there's a gem among the rubbish, but the mini-games in this pack are pretty much all duds. Slice Daffy in half again and again, until they're so small they simply disappear. Bounce food up to Daffy and make him overeat. Rotate a "Stun Runner" world around and make Daffy trip up. Dish out cards to the right poker players. There are about 20 mini-games in here, the idea behind most is to defeat Daffy or make him lose at the game...something that isn't made clear at the start. When you're playing a game where you think you're winning, you're actually losing and also losing a bit of ground trying to get to the end of the game. And I can't think of a single mini-game in here that I'd play on its own outside of the normal game progression...they're that bad.
But there's no denying the game's humor: it's actually extremely well written and funny. Daffy constantly cracks jokes about the shoddy programming and the Nintendo DS system's abilities (including its pixel count). A lot of classic Duck Amuck jokes were rewritten and revisited for the Nintendo DS, including the one where a second Daffy shows up on the top screen to have a conversation with himself on the lower screen. The talent responsible for Daffy's voice injects the classic energy of a classic cartoon. The development team clearly loved the classic cartoon, and its shows.
Duck Amuck contains the most creative use of the Nintendo DS but 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.