There were many quality platformers that were released on the Sega Genesis in the early to mid-90’s. In most people’s minds, minus the blue hedgehog, they picture the Toejam and Earl entries, Gunstar Heroes and many others. However, many people seem to forget the one starring our favorite adventurer duck, Donald. Quackshot was released both in the United States and Japan in 1991. Japan was later treated with a Sega Saturn port of Quackshot that happened to be packaged with Castle of Illusion in the Sega Ages bundle. It was never released stateside.
The first and most objectionable problem I had with Quackshot is that there are no vocal tracks in the game for Donald. There were many early Genesis titles that had voice tracking inserted, and this is one that could have used the help. Donald Duck has one of the more distinct voices in Disney history, and leaving him without the trademark vocal expression is a disappointment.
Overall, there seems to be an absence of a really memorable soundtrack. The tunes become very repetitive and at times, deduct from the experience. There were times where I found myself humming along as I was shooting cacti in the desert, but that was about the only influential music heard through the course of the game. The sound effect for the game were nothing to write home about, but they were sufficient, and at times, comical depending on the action (e.g. ~ shooting a plunger in an enemy’s face).
At the time that this was released in 1991, I remember the graphics being quite crisp with an obvious influence of Indiana Jones. Looking at the graphics now, there is quite a bit of depreciation in detail while comparing it to other Genesis titles. This is mainly because it was subject to an earlier release date than most titles on the console. Even with that fact, I felt that the animations were relatively fluid, with few hang-ups. One noticeable change that should have been made is the animations that occur when Donald has collected an item. While this is a minor detail, it seems as though the food and other objects float towards the top of the screen for no apparent reason. Simply making the food disappear would have given it a much cleaner appearance. The most enjoyable visual experience was when Donald filled his temper gauge to enter into a total destruction mode. While the mode is only for a brief amount of time, the animation looks great and it seems to be void of glaring glitches in enemy actions or background imaging. The level design varies greatly, and because of its diversification, it adds a positive element to the overall game experience.
Controls, at times, can be infuriating. The jumping aspect of Quackshot was not fine tuned, and the game play can lead to many lives being spent in the same location. As long as Donald is on the ground, there isn’t an issue as the crouching and shooting are done well. The timing and aiming takes a little bit to get used to, but by the second level, it becomes second nature. The sliding at times can be hit-or-miss as well, but as the game proceeds, you are better able to use it.
There are a number of better Disney-licensed games out there; however, this one is a good place to start for beginning gamers looking for entry into the Sega Genesis platformers. While many prefer Castle of Illusion to Quackshot, there are still pieces to this game that are better. There have been a number of movies and games in recent years focusing on foreign and exotic places, and this aids the concept of the game. We all know that Duckberg isn’t necessarily located anywhere nearby, but you get the idea. The main point is that Donald is out on the chase for treasure, and the inevitable Big Bad Pete shows up. It’s not rescuing a princess, so it adds a little variety to the normally clichéd story-lines. The replay factor isn’t necessarily the greatest as there aren’t any collectables or change in story, but the simplistic nature of the game fosters the plug-and-play mentality. This is further emphasized with the lack of a save system.
Who doesn’t love shooting plungers into the faces of enemies? This is the exact reason Rayman Raving Rabbids succeeds. The novelty of that does wear off a bit over the span of the game, but not enough to keep from playing it until its conclusion. The boss battles are not overly difficult, and can be conquered by recognizing the relatively simple patterns. While this game is geared towards the younger crowd, I still find myself plugging it in the Genesis on random occasions. If you enjoy platformers, whether you grew up with Disney-related shows and characters or not, I would recommend a purchase as this game is found anywhere for less than $10. For the price, it’s a good buy.