Super Duck 3D is an isometric platform title where you assume the control of a hero called Super Duck. The thinking goes, I imagine, that after Superman, every race or animal has to have a “superhero”. Super Duck is apparently from a place called, you guessed it, Duck Land. A recent malady has swept across Duck Land where the stars that provide electricity for the residents have all disappeared and all signs point to an evil wizard wrecking havoc in Duck Land. It’s up to Super Duck to face off zombies, penguins and perilous mazes to emerge as the savior.
Conventional as the game mechanics are, right down to the corny plot, it’s not like this type of story hasn’t been told before. The recent Spyro: Season of Ice is about a dragon coming upon a land where all the ‘fireflies’ that give dragons their fiery chutzpah, is stolen by some evil menace.
Super Duck’s quest is no different. Our duck persona has to travel through a flurry of mazes to find and retrieve Duck Land’s necessary stars. Like most popular console titles, this platform game begins with a world map, with portals to different levels of the game. Super Duck’s quest will take him through more than a dozen levels with five distinct motifs: the last being a surreal mix of everything. The overall objective in each level is fairly simple. You have to collect all the stars before leaving and fortunately, the developers have put in a percentage indicator at the top of the game to indicate how many you need to collect before you complete the level. Many of the levels, quite literally, are built around dense mazes where dead-ends often contain the stars you need to collect. However, finding that last pesky star can be a chore.
Luckily, Super Duck moves with alacrity, so traversing to and from those dead-ends poses no obstacle. The unfortunate part is how the isometric engine registers collisions. Sometimes when I think I’ve touched a star zipping by, I find I have to backtrack and carefully adjust my approach to get the game to register that I’ve picked the star up. There are also other obstacles. Particularly in the first level, with the abundance of greenery, Super Duck can get tripped up on obstacles if you’re not pointing him precisely down the lane of travel.
Sprinkled amongst the levels are certain locked doors. Like Gauntlet, the corresponding keys are scattered throughout the worlds. Health power-ups are strewn across the landscape. So are the monsters, which vary depending on the level’s theme. Trolls and ogres stalk the forests in the beginning. Linux-like penguins patrol the snowy levels. According to the literature, they’re there to hunt for stars too. This begs me to ask two questions. Why do the ducks only send one representative? And question two I have partly figured out: those other races must employ unionized workers because they’ll do anything but pick up stars.
Super Duck 3D’s landscapes are very bright and colorful. On a handheld screen, that’s important in making a game visible under suboptimal conditions; poor lighting, direct sunlight, this game handles them all. Unfortunately, like most Palm titles, there’s not much in the sound department. Certainly, the developer can’t be faulted for that but part of the package when it comes to doing conventional platform titles has always been a good soundtrack and cute sound effects. Everyone remembers what Mario looks like but they also remember a few bars of music from the first title. That same formula holds true for franchises like Sonic, Metroid, Castlevania and the list goes on.
While Super Duck 3D may not have the slick artistry of today’s platform titles, its isometric gameplay is tried and true. I keep coming back to the Spyro franchise on the Game Boy Advance because the mechanics are that similar. If you’re looking for something that can help pass time and isn’t thought-provoking enough to make you tiring, Super Duck 3D fills a noticeable void on the Palm handheld. Just be careful of how much space it takes up and how much time can past hunting for those stars.
[07/10] Program Size
[13/15] Learning Curve