Any retro gamer worth their salt would agree that the nineties were a golden age for Disney platformers. With legendary titles such as the Illusion series (Castle, Land, Legend and World of illusion accordingly) and the amazing movie tie-in for Aladdin dominating the Sega platforms and Capcom paving the way over on the NES and SNES with the Magical quest series, Goof Troop, and the Rescue ranger’s games just to name a few.
Many of us have fond memories of rushing home from school to sit down to these titles that whisked us away to star in our favourite cartoons and movies. These games really knew how to capture our imaginations with their brightly coloured level designs and sprites, catchy tunes and addictive gameplay.
Move over Mickey, here comes Donald!
“Disney’s Quackshot starring: Donald Duck” is one title in the expansive library of the Sega Megadrive (Or Genesis to our pals over in the states) that unfortunately a lot of people missed due to it living in the shadow of it’s more popular predecessor, “Castle of Illusion starring: Mickey mouse”. Personally, I think this is a huge shame as Quackshot really developed the standard platforming format considerably. The game added collectables and equipment that would encourage the player to flit back and forth between various geographical locales to seek out new items and progress further in another area. For example, at the beginning of the game you are presented with a choice of three levels, Duckburg, Mexico and Transylvania. You will only be able to progress halfway through Duckburg before meeting an NPC who will inform you that you will need climbing materials to ascend a vertical wall ahead. At this point Donald will plant a flag in the ground which allows the player to summon Huey, Dewey and Louie in Donald’s plane to pick him up and return to the world map. From there, the player will have to seek out climbing equipment in one of the other levels before returning. It’s a unique little mechanic for the time which encouraged players to think outside of the box.
What’s the Quack?
On his search for the legendary treasure of King Garuzia, you’ll join Donald Duck and his nephews on their travels across 9 varied locations throughout the course of the game. Each revisit will allow you to progress further into the stage to discover the treasures within. Each stage is unique in it’s design with great attention to detail (Although the northern lights as a background fixture in the South Pole stage was a little bit of a head-scratcher.) and there are a variety of different enemies who are dead set on stopping Donald in his tracks.
The most common of these enemies are the members of Pete’s gang who all happen to be lookalikes of Pete himself (It could be a bit of self-obsession on Pete’s part there or perhaps even a botched cloning job?) and Big Pete even appears as a Boss towards the end of the game. Most levels include an end of level boss for Donald to contend with and these are just as eclectic in their design. Fire breathing tigers, Viking ghosts and even the infamous count Dracula (Or should that be Duckula?) are all baying for a bit of crispy fried Donald and they won’t go down without a fight. Having said that, most of these encounters are pattern based and it’s usually pretty easy to figure out their weak points and dispatch them quickly.
Is it worth a Lucky Dime?
The game oozes personality and it’s particularly satisfying to see Donald’s trademark rage come into play upon collection of 5 Chilli pepper power ups. This will cause Donald to become invincible for a short time and propel himself forward through the stage, destroying all enemies who dare to get in the way. Donald will also need to make use of his plunger, popcorn and bubblegum guns to take out enemies and progress through the levels.
The music matches each stage well and there are a few toe-tappers in there with the boss theme being a personal favourite, similar to the amazing boss theme from “Castle of Illusion”. Graphically, the game lives up to the same high standards expected of Disney titles at the time and even surpasses these standards in some places. Basically, if you liked previous Disney platformers, this should tick all your boxes once again.
In terms of Difficulty, most gamers will be able to clock this title in a little over an hour with minimal fuss. The opening levels don’t present too much of a challenge with a steeper difficulty presenting itself in the final two levels which throw out a few platforming curveballs to keep you on your toes. For those seeking replay value, there isn’t much to find here with no completion bonuses or difficulty levels to speak of, so unless you really enjoyed the journey with Donald it won’t be one you’ll take over and over again.
Star Struck Gaming Rating
Overall, Quackshot is a really solid platformer for the console. There is enough new content here to intrigue fans of the genre whilst still keeping a firm hold on the Disney magic that captured us all in the first place. Securing your own copy of the game is relatively inexpensive with cartridges typically selling on EBay for around £8.00 and Complete copies for £15.00. If you spot this duck out in the wild I highly recommend you pick it up if you’re a Megadrive collector or a fan of fun, pick up and play platforming, you won’t be disappointed.