Happy Thursday to you all! Time for another edition of Throwback Thursday! We all have fond memories of buying or getting our favorite video game consoles over the many years. I remember the back story of how I always got my systems for some weird reason. Everything from mom and dad hiding the screen of an NES game playing for my birthday, to me grabbing the last Wii that Walmart had it stock, getting there in the nick of time. I remember mom and dad taking me to Philadelphia on my birthday to visit some friends, and stopping at Lionel Kiddie City to get my Sega Genesis system. But who buys just the console? You need an extra game to go with it! So along with Sonic The Hedgehog, I also picked up two other games. Today, I am going to review one of them that I got that same day: Quackshot!
The storyline of Quackshot is that Donald Duck has found a piece of a treasure map that was stuck inside of a book in Uncle Scrooge’s personal and private library. Obviously, when you find a map of this nature, it’s got to mean just one thing: Riches! (And since the map WAS hidden in a book owned by the richest duck in the world, you’d certainly have to agree with that thought!) Unfortunately, while Donald is full of excitement, Big Bad Pete happens to overhear about the discovery. How convenient! It is up to Donald to follow the maps locations, including places like Duckburg and Transylvania, to eventually get the rest of the map to find his way to the treasure. All the while, trying to avoid Pete and all of his minions. It involves a lot of searching and a lot of sticky situations, including Huey, Dewey and Louie getting held hostage, finding a hidden statue, and even the craziness of dipping the treasure map in water! Not to mention, Daisy being in a mood (as usual) and having an argument with Donald. (I never did like that stuck up duck…) Not to mention, you will notice all of the Indiana Jones references, from everything from the outfit Donald wears, to the opening logo screen. Epic!
You start off in Duckburg, where you will quickly discover what your initial weapon is. You won’t believe it, but it’s an unlimited supply of yellow plungers! (Yeah, the kind you use for plumbing.) It doesn’t kill the enemies, obviously. But what it does is stun them enough to walk past them. (I guess if I got shot at with a plunger, I’d be kind of stunned myself!) The ironic thing that you will notice right away, is that Pete seems to have gotten cloned over a million times. On the first level, it seems that almost all of the enemies are a copy of Big Bad Pete himself! So why not just tell him to take a hike? Aside from Pete, you have other various enemies throughout the game, including birds which look incredibly angry. In later levels you will encounter moving cacti and ghosts, among others. Later on in the level, you will discover that you need some assistance to continue your path, which will force you to go to another area of the map, in a somewhat wild goose chase to continue. You do this by calling your nephews to bring you your biplane, and you will then fly to where ever you need to go.
Throughout the game, you will also get different types of ammo, including special red plungers which will allow you to climb higher areas since they stick to walls for a period of time, popcorn guns (who doesn’t love popcorn?) and bubblegum shots which for some reason, are able to clear away blocks. Yeah, all of that Orbit you’ve chewed over the years certainly has a powerful ability! I think the best and most classic power up for the game is how you become invincible. Forget about shiny happy stars! After Donald eats 5 chili peppers (indicated by a meter listed as “temper”, he will start to go berserk and enter serious fighting mode! He get’s pissed off and starts attacking anything that happens to come near his path. While it’s a great and comical item to get, it doesn’t last long. The only other gripe I have with it, is when he goes into fighting mode, he will automatically start to run forward, so you have to be careful about not running into a ditch or anything similar because it will cause you to lose a life. Again, just like with you getting excited and speeding up when you got the star in Super Mario Brothers. You could get too excited and end up dying anyway.
As the game progresses, you will see many of your favorite Disney characters. Aside from Huey Dewey and Louie, you will also get to see Daisy Duck (again, who I still can’t stand), Goofy makes an appearance, as do Gyro Gearloose, Mickey Mouse and Scrooge McDuck. Most of the time, these characters are not very interactive, you just talk to them as they stand there. But most of the time, you will get some very much-needed help, supplies, tips or power ups from these characters that you will need to continue the game. You have to give kudos to Sega for incorporating so many different characters in the game. Although there could have been a few others that never made it into the game. But it’s an excellent effort. Even if you were only a casual watcher of the classic animated shorts, or Ducktales which was the biggie when this game was made, you’ll be able to recognize many of these classic characters.
The graphics for this game are very standard for a somewhat early Genesis title. (The game was made in 1991 and the Genesis was only made available in the United States two years previously.) But even in its simplicity, the graphics are very crisp and clear. As you walk through the levels of this side scroller, you can see the different parts of the screen moving at proper levels to indicate a foreground and background. Very realistic. The color schemes that were used for this title are also incredibly breathtaking. I know it sounds kind of weird, but it’s a game that you really have to see in action to understand. I guess because it is a Disney title, the colors were made very bright and cheerful, even in a game where you have to stun enemies with plungers.
The background music is very well done, however tends to get quite repetitive as the game goes on. Each level has its own background music, however the loops continue every 15 to 20 seconds. Not that something like that was uncommon mind you, but for some reason with this title it tends to get more noticeable. But regardless, they are very good pieces of music that shows off the abilities of the Genesis sound chips very nicely. Sometimes however, the sound effects are a little more than desirable. For instance, when Donald gets his temper flared enough and starts having his fit, it doesn’t sound like classic Donald Duck. It sounds like an old Pong game going very fast, higher pitched, and with a lot of echo and reverb. That was very disappointing to me, because you just cannot have Donald without that classic anger sound!
The controls are for the most part okay and playable, however there is some lagging going on when you go to do things like jump or fire. It’s not a terrible lag, I’ve played games that had much worse lag than what it offered here. But it’s just enough to be noticeable. If you go to play it a modern flat screen or on an emulator of some kind, it just makes it worse. The other issue is that for the most part, the game runs a little slower that you may like it to. Even when you are running in the game, it just seems to be a little slow. This is something that I didn’t really notice when I was playing the game as a kid, but it’s something that I can now take note of. It may be because this game was in fact targeted at kids for the most part, so the game may have intentionally been made to play a little slow. It just doesn’t seem as smooth as some of the other classic side scrollers, which is a shame. If it wasn’t for all of these issues, this game would have nearly been a prime example of perfection. The only thing I could recommend, is make sure you play it on an older television with real hardware if possible. You’ll get the most enjoyment out of it.
I recently learned that the game was later released as a package set for the Sega Saturn system, however it was only in Japan and as part of the Sega Ages series 1998. The game was bundled along with Castle Of Illusion, and from what I have been told, it is only a direct emulation of the original titles. No updated graphics, sound or anything like that. Which is a shame because I bet that this title would have completely shined on the new Saturn hardware. If nothing else, just doing away with that annoying lag would have made wonders for it. But, I suppose it is just another example of, “Let’s re-release what we have on a new system so that it can be compatible.” Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.
I always was a big fan of Donald Duck. Growing up (and even today), Donald Duck is my all time favorite classic animated character. He has it all! He’s a good-hearted duck that always seems to have bad things happen to him. And to be honest, the best part of his character is that he always got angry and started having a fit, which let’s face it: We ALL do that sometimes! So much so, who better to send off to WWII than our favorite fighter? Not to mention, you have to give the guy that voiced his character (Clarence Nash) a lot of credit. He did the voice of Donald from his debut in 1934, all the way to 1983! Nearly 50 years! It’s a combination of everything that makes this game so enjoyable. It was certainly a favorite in my Genesis library, and I’m sure if you can get a copy of the title yourself, you’ll have lots of fun playing this fun, and simple side scroller.