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Tour de 64   

Duck Dodgers starring Daffy Duck

Duck and cover!

Not about to let Disney's Donald Duck hog all the fame and fortune, Daffy Duck starred in his own Nintendo 64 platformer as well. Unfortunately, this is another case where I'm not very familiar with the source material, having seen the show maybe a few times when I was younger and don't remember a lick of it. However, the game is plenty decent enough to stand on its own, or maybe it's just my love of platformers talking.

The gist of the story is that Marvin the Martian has constructed a huge death ray to destroy the earth, but it requires a lot of energy to power it. Marvin instructs his underlings to gather energy atoms to fuel it, and the Duck Dodgers are then called in to thwart his evil plan by collecting the atoms before Marvin does. Surprisingly, these story scenes are fully-voiced, and sound pretty close to the authentic voices, if they aren't. The volume of the voices is a little inconsistent however, and Daffy especially sounds quieter than the rest, odd as that is. There are more scenes in between worlds as well to continue the story, which are also voiced, and contain some typical moments you'd find in a cartoon. For example, when Daffy goes to start his rocket, he plows into the launch pad, then says “Whoops, forgot to take it out of reverse.”

The worlds take place in three-dimensional space, and are mostly linear. When first entering a world, there are typically a few “doors” around which can be opened after collecting a certain number of atoms from that specific world. After going through a door, the platforming path is pretty straight-forward from there. One hallway in the first world is an obstacle course of sorts, which requires jumping across spiked gaps, dodging spiky rollers, and other spike-related traps. A nice feature is that whenever an area is entered, a message pops up informing how many atoms are left to find in the immediate section, which is never more than two; this makes it easier to track progress.

There are also sometimes little minigames to try out, with the reward usually being an atom, but sometimes just an extra life. These range from things like tossing ten basketballs into a basket within the time limit, or entering a boxing ring and using a spring-loaded boxing glove to knock out the opponent. A Pong-like arcade game can also be found, and strangely enough, completing it unlocks a 2-player version of it. In the final world, there's even a first-person shooter segment, complete with strafe control. There are different themed activities in each world, making for some nice variety.

As is typical of third-party titles, Duck Dodgers doesn't have the same level of polish as Nintendo-published efforts. The control is a little wonky, with double-jumping in particular requiring a certain sense of timing that feels unintuitive. Hit detection is a bit spotty, animations outside of cutscenes are choppy, and movement in general just isn't as smooth. The framerate can also get quite sluggish in open areas, and even in small ones it isn't so good. The camera tends to get jumpy and caught behind objects whenever Daffy enters an enclosed space. Since the game isn't really difficult, these issues aren't that big of a deal.

It may just be due to my affection for platformers, but I enjoyed my time with this one. It's nothing mind-blowing and doesn't contain the quality of Nintendo's offerings, but its varied level design and decent platforming segments were enough to keep me interested throughout. The cartoony elements added a nice touch, though the theme would probably appeal a lot more to fans of the show.


 

Comments

Cary Woodham

05/04/2014 at 08:34 PM

I know there was a Duck Dodgers game on SNES, but I didn't know there was one on N64, too.

mothman

05/04/2014 at 08:48 PM

I had no idea this game existed Kat, because I certainly would have owned it if I did.

Jason Ross Senior Editor

05/04/2014 at 10:11 PM

I thought this was a game based on the movie Dodgeball. Duck! Dodge! Dip! Dive! Dodge!

"...dodging spiky rollers," should have been "Duck-dodging spiky rollers."

KnightDriver

05/08/2014 at 04:08 PM

I loved the original cartoon Duck Dodgers in the 21st Century, especially the animation art for the backgrounds done by Maurice Noble (a name I just discovered) like this below.

mn

I was kinda of hoping this game would be of that style but it's based off the more recent TV series. Still, I'd like to play it.

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