Return of the Duck

Demo Download
Jamie Woodhouse

You may remember Qwak as a classic game for the BBC Micro, or its later (1993) release for the Amiga. Being a Yank, I don't, but that's okay. Jamie Woodhouse, a twenty-plus year veteran of the industry, has gone indie, and has re-engineered this old school arcade-style game for PCs.

It's a very typical platformer in which you play a little animated duck, collecting fruit and gems on each level. Fruit gets turned into "eggs" which you hurl to defeat enemies. There are a bunch of powerups, umbrellas that trigger a rain of fruit, and boss battles every few levels. Good, clean nostalgic fun, in other words. One element that makes me despair, lame as I am at twitch games but that will presumably simply increase the level of fun for better players, is that if you take too long on a level, a rain of spiky balls that can kill you begins; while in principle you can dodge them and still collect other stuff on the level, when this begins your best bet is probably to get to the exit as expeditiously as possible.

Among nice features are a two-player mode (sharing opposite sides of the keyboard) and a flexible online highscore upload system.

To say something like "nothing hugely original here" (as I find myself doing quite often) seems pretty redundant in this context, since this is, after all a remake of game first published almost 20 years ago. I'll make a somewhat cynical prediction, though; if Qwak is a commercial success, as it might be, it will be held up as another example of the growth in "casual games," despite the fact that arcade-style platformers practically created the gaming hardcore.