Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Developer: Wayforward Technologies
Release Date: October 9, 2007
I'm a big fan of self-referential humor. That's probably why I love Chuck Jones' 1951 animated classic, "Duck Amuck." Every time I watch it, I'm blown away by the surreal, fourth-wall breaking nature of the short. Fortunately, this type of humor is everywhere in Looney Tunes: Duck Amuck, a collection of mini-games based on some of Daffy Duck's most famous roles. Despite some minor flaws, there's easily enough good in this game to recommend it for many DS owners and any fan of classic Looney Tunes cartoons.
The premise of the game is very similar to its namesake. You begin with Daffy Duck in idle mode, which has a white background and nothing else. As you interact with the duck and his environment, you're pulled into mini-games. Do well on the mini-games, and Daffy's anger meter rises. Do poorly, and it drops. Your goal is to fill the meter, pushing Daffy to the limits and causing him to freak out. The simplicity of the game is one of its strong points because it's easy to just pick up and play, without investing too much time or thought into it.
There are close to 25 different mini-games, or "gags," to partake in, all of which utilize the DS hardware well. For example, one gag has you moving Daffy down a racetrack by making quick swipes across the bottom of the touch-screen. Another has you blowing into the microphone to keep Daffy in the air as he soars toward his goal. All of the games are incredibly well made, and the variety of controls keeps things very fresh as you move from gag to gag.
Getting into the gags themselves is also a lot of fun. As you interact with Daffy and the environment, you're given the option to play the games. For example, if you poke and prod Daffy with the stylus, he'll grab some paint cans and set them on the ground. From there, you can pick up the paint and drop it on Daffy to start a certain gag. You can also take the paint and swipe it across the background to start a different gag. Finding all of the mini-games is a game in itself, and it can get pretty interesting as you start to try different things, sometimes with surprising results.
While the gags are all solid, there are some minor technical problems with Looney Tunes: Duck Amuck that bring down the score a bit. Sometimes, the title doesn't quite register smaller movements of the stylus, and with a game that requires short, quick movements at certain points, it can lead to some frustration. Fortunately, the majority of the title works great, so if you need to, you can head over to another game to cool down.
Now, it would not be a very good Looney Tunes game without some classic Looney Tunes humor, and Looney Tunes: Duck Amuck is full of it. All of Daffy's lines are recorded and delivered with perfect comedic timing. All of the humor falls into one of two categories. You have the self-referential humor, where Daffy knows that he's in a video game and spends the whole time making fun of you and how well you play. There is also plenty of slapstick humor as Daffy gets knocked from screen to screen, usually because of the actions of the player.
Almost all of the gags take place within one of Daffy's classic cartoons. In one gag, you may take the persona of Robin Hood Daffy trying to steal a bag of gold from a rich man. Another game has you step into the shoes of Duck Dodgers, in the 24½th century, to duel to the death with Marvin the Martian over who has discovered Planet X. Overall, the humor really hits the target and keeps you playing to find out what happens next.
The graphics are excellent, with the classic Looney Tunes style faithfully represented. Daffy Duck is the one of the only characters in the game, so he's the only one with any animations, but the animations that he does have are pretty fluid. There are a few times when it appears the animation skips a few frames, but there's nothing that really detracts from the experience.
The sound in Looney Tunes: Duck Amuck is incredible. As previously mentioned, all of Daffy's lines are recorded, and the game features an incredible amount of voice work for a DS title. In addition to that, the game is also full of classic Looney Tunes orchestral music and sound effects. It's definitely a title that you'll want to turn up.
However, despite how good the game is, there are still some minor flaws that certainly hamper this otherwise excellent title. For example, the difficulty of the gags ranges from extremely easy to impossibly difficult. There are times where you'll go into a gag and complete it perfectly on the first try. Other times, no matter how many times you attempt to beat it, you just can't. You can play the gags as many times as you want, once you've unlocked them, but eventually, the easier gags get boring and the tougher gags get frustrating, leading you to close the DS for a while.
Also, the goals of some of the gags are not explained too well. Most of the gags have you trying to humiliate Daffy, but a few have you leading Daffy to victory. Many times, I thought I was supposed to be helping Daffy, only to find out that I should have been hindering him. You can look at the instruction book to see all of the different gags and how to beat them, but you shouldn't have to. The goal should be outlined when you begin the gag.
Looney Tunes: Duck Amuck is also hurt by a pretty short length. After you fill Daffy's anger meter, he goes nuts, one final joke plays out and then the credits roll. You then have to start a new game to get back to the gags. The problem is that it only takes five or six mini-games to fill the meter, and even then, you don't have to play the game perfectly in order to kick up the meter a little bit. That means that if you want to go into some of the more difficult games and practice them, you can expect to see the credits roll a few times before you get the desired perfect score. I would have preferred to have a game mode where you could just sit and practice the gags with no interruptions.
There's also a pretty small amount of things to do in the game. In addition to the gags, you can also collect character coins by clicking on sparkling icons within the various games. They're a nice little diversion and are certainly fun to collect, but there's not a lot to do with them once you get them. You can take them into a little paint program and color them, but it's really not that exciting.
There are a couple of bonus reels to unlock, and they're a little more fun. One of them is a shot of Daffy in a sound booth recording some of the lines in the game. The other is a "making of" featurette about one of the levels in the game. Both of these are pretty neat and provide a little bit more content.
Of course, out of all of the extra stuff, the most fun thing is the soundboard, which lets you listen to all of the dialogue in the game and combine sound bites to form entirely new sentences. You can also record a bit of dialogue with the microphone and have Daffy say it. As with the other extras, it's a nice diversion, but it loses its freshness pretty quickly.
Fortunately, Looney Tunes: Duck Amuck does provide you with quite a bit of replay value. After you unlock a gag, you can select it from the gag menu. When you do this, the game also extends the mini-game and adds new levels of difficulty. It's nice to see that there is some playability outside of the idle mode in which you'll spend the bulk of your time.
All things considered, Looney Tunes: Duck Amuck is a solid title that has quite a bit to see. The humor comes out full-force, making each foray into the game a complete and utter blast. Unfortunately, a few technical difficulties and its short length prevent it from being truly great. Regardless, it's a great game for any Looney Tunes fan or any DS owner who wants a nice, simple game to play.
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