It is times like this where the fact I am a bitter and cynical asshole comes to the fore because I truly hate Donald Duck. Something about a pantless arsehole with severe anger issues never sat right with me and I never really understood why anybody liked him. But bitter and cynical only works in the characters if they are occasionally shown to have another side so there is at least an illusion of depth. Think Dr Cox in Scrubs.
But what about Quackshot, and why am I ranting about a cartoon character?
Quackshot is a platformer puzzler / puzzler platformer. It isn’t a solve a puzzle type puzzle it is more a “non-linear platformer” in that you have to go to B to get further in A. This isn’t Megaman optimum routing either it is having a choice of levels but you can’t progress any of them unless you choose the correct route. Case in point the 1st 3 levels; you need to do half of the 2nd level to be able to do the 1st level, once the 1st level is done you need to do 2nd level and then 3rd. On a first playthrough this is a fucking chore as getting used to the platforming will take time and the exploration isn’t explained in advance. Once the map opens up you repeat the process on the new levels.
I can’t decide if this is a good thing. In a good game having different routes allows you to do hard mode, like in Mega Man as it lets you do Ice Man with no powers, or you can do Ice Man last and cheese it with upgrades. In Quackshot you have to faff and backtrack, and this isn’t just revisiting a level, it is literally getting to the end of a stage and running back to the beginning. It is serious padding that can get old pretty quick, especially when the same enemies are there and the same music plays.
For me the platforming is *slightly* off. Donald has a slight gravity defying jump, not like a Mario jump where you can leap over the Eiffel Tower, but Donald rises and falls slowly and it feels erratic. After that, the bulk of platforming comes from using your plunger to reach higher platforms. This is a cool USP to the game and looks the business, the problem is it is slightly clunky in firing, you can’t jump as high as you fire, so you spend a inordinate amount of time failing jumps until you realise you have to fire after the apex of a jump not before it. Since your plungers have a limited life you need to time your jumps pretty carefully otherwise the rage will set in.
Donald finds a map and wants to find treasure. It is an early 90s platformer you don’t need much more than this.
I don’t really have much else to say about Quackshot. It isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination but it isn’t remotely on a par with Toy Story or Aladdin for the Genesis.
Ultimately there is nothing inherently wrong, it just isn’t very good.
Cons: Being Donald
Back in the Day:
Quackshot scored between 75 and 90% with most people commenting on the float-y controls.
Also released on Sega Saturn in 1998