Saturday, 14 February 2015

GROW: QuackShot - Starring Donald Duck

Review by Clint 'ThoRn' Thornton

DeveloperSega of Japan
DirectorEmiko Yamamoto
Programmer(s)Hiroshi Momota
Masato Omori
Keiichi Yamamoto
ArtistTakashi Yuda
ComposerShigenori Kamiya
Size10 - Megabit cartridge
Release date1991

What's the first thing you think of when you hear the word 'Disney'?  For most it would probably be 'Kids Cartoons and movies' but for someone like me (and for also many of you out there) you think of some great video gaming experiences.  From the days of the NES with games like Duck Tales, Darkwing Duck and Chip 'n Dale to the mid 90's on the Mega Drive / Genesis with games like Castle of Illusion, Aladdin and Gargoyles.  These games were some of the most addictive platformers one could ask for.  Some were a walk in the park to play through and others were nothing short of a hardcore experience but no one could argue that whatever the game, most of the Disney platform games from that era where just plain fun.  Quackshot was one of the games that hit the challenge sweet spot perfectly, it wasn't a breeze but at the same time wasn't going to shorten your life by 10 years and give you grey hairs throughout the duration of the game.  So let's go get on the Steve Irwin khaki and join Donald Duck on a great adventure all over the world...

Donald is in Uncle Scrooges library and as he is perusing through one of the books, a map falls out.  This map looks like it leads to the treasure of the Ancient and Great Duck Kingdom ruler, King Garuzia.  Donald decides this is his way to fame, riches and glory so decides to go on a adventure to find this hidden treasure.  One problem though, Big Bad Pete has overheard Donalds plan and decides to follow him and steal the treasure for himself.

I think of Quackshot as a 'Spiritual Sequel' to Duck Tales on the NES.  Although the games are made by different developers I can't help but think the programmers at Sega of Japan would have enjoyed  playing Duck Tales and taken some inspiration from that game.

The player takes on the role as Donald Duck and must travel all over the world through a series of side scrolling, platforming levels.  You have Huey, Dewey & Louie to help you on your journey as they will fly the plain that drops you off and picks you up in between the locations you visit (Clearly the age for having your light plain licence is much lower in Duckberg).

At the beginning of the game you have the choice of three different stages (Duckberg, Mexico & Transylvania) to go through but you may meet a dead end if you choose the wrong level order.   But don't worry as you will be met by someone at the end to give you a clue of where you need to go to progress further.  At this point of the game, Donald will place a flag in the ground and from there can call up his nephews to come pick him up and take him to the next location he wants to visit.  As you progress through the stages you will be given new items and clues which in turn unlocks the rest of the locations you need to visit in order to find the treasure.

Now I think it's important I let you know that there is a little bit of going 'back and forth' throughout the game but I honestly don't feel it makes the game feel repetitive in any way.  If anything it makes it feel more of an adventure game as it really gets you in to that adventurous spirit trying to find clues and the next piece of the puzzle to help you progress.

This is a really fun game and the level of fun and frustration is perfect for those like me who are not the greatest platformers but at the same time still enjoy playing them.  If you're a hardcore platformer who enjoys beating Rondo of Blood and Mega Man 3 just because you can than you might find this game a little on the easy side but I still think it's worth a play through just to enjoy the story, game mechanics and visuals.

For a 10 Meg cart this game sure packs a punch in the graphics department.  I actually lost count of how many layers of parallax I saw in the Mexico stage.  This is one of those Mega Drive / Genesis games that makes you reconsider the limited color pallet of the system.  No dull and grainy backgrounds, no under drawn sprites, just a well detailed, bright and vibrant world with characters plucked straight out of the cartoons (plucked, Donald.... Get it....oh  Take notice when you play the game and when you make Donald duck to the ground and you see him pull his hat down over his head.  You can even see the expression on his face change.  It's the small things like this that give this game so much character.  I have one small gripe though, we all know Sega didn't spend much time honing in on their transparency abilities in the 16 & 32 bit days yet for some reason this game is full of attempted transparency effects which in actual fact is just dithering.  When you play the game you will see what I am talking about but that's really the only fault I can find.

Let's not forget about the audio either...  This is far from your typical sounding Genesis music, it's some of the cleanest sounding music you will hear on the console.  Each level has its own theme and suits the environment well.  It might be a little repetitive for some depending how much time you spend on each level but at least it's well composed.  I really love the Transylvania theme.  The sound effects are also nice and clear but the effect when you stun your enemy with the plunger can become a little too much after a while.

This is a must play for any platformer fan who enjoys a challenge but also likes the fun to outweigh the difficulty factor.  If you know the right order for visiting the stages you can knock this game over in about an hour but for a first timer you will be looking at closer to 2 hours but at the same time should be able to get through it in one sitting without losing all your lives.

If you want to pick this game up then now is a great time because CIB will only cost between $15 - $25 or you can get the double pack which also includes Castle of Illusion for double the fun.

Until next time...  Stay Retro!

Did you know:  Quackshot was released in Japan on the Sega Saturn under its 'Sega Ages' banner.


  1. Nice review clint. Never really played this for more than a few moments, but looking forward to spending time with it on this months game of the month in our game "book club".

  2. Nice write up. Enjoying the game more and more, the deeper I get into it.