The Nintendo Resolution: QuackShot Starring Donald Duck

QuackShot box
Console: Sega Genesis via illegal emulation

Start Date: September 1, 2016
End Date: September 1, 2016

After I posted a link on facebook to my Cave Story write-up, this exchange happened between my friend Christian and myself:

quackshot challenge

Little did Christian know that I was just bored and unemployed enough to take his silly little joke as a dead-serious fucking challenge.  Within four hours, I had downloaded, played through, and beaten QuackShot.

Since I didn’t own a Genesis as a kid, I’d never played this game before.  But my eternal – almost unhealthy – love for Donald Duck meant I always kinda wanted to, so I was glad to finally have an excuse.

So here’s the thing… all those wonderful Disney games for the NES and SNES that everyone remembers so fondly?  They were all developed and published by Capcom.  But for some reason, when it came to Genesis games, Sega handled the Disney license themselves.  And Sega, in my opinion, just aren’t the best at making platformers.  I know it’s sort of unfair to hold QuackShot to the standards of those Capcom classics, but the game sort of begs the comparison by obviously and shamelessly aping DuckTales.

The game almost reads to me like a parody of DuckTales.  In the opening cutscene, Donald steals a treasure map from a snoozing Uncle Scrooge and then takes off in a biplane to explore a series of exotic locales across the globe.

Quackshot map

He brings Huey, Dewey and Louie with him, because of course he does.  The boys don’t even really appear in the game outside of these cutscenes, so I don’t even know why they’re there, except that they were in DuckTales so they’re along for the ride here too.

You know who’s not along for the ride?  Daisy Duck:

Quackshot Daisy complaining

Because she’s just a woman, Daisy only shows up to bitch and moan at Donald for skipping out on their dinner date.  Sorry Daisy – globe-trotting is men’s work.

Much like that other duck game, this one has you platforming through several locations around the world.  Some of them are stolen directly from DuckTales (such as Transylvania, complete with a boss battle against Dracula Duck), while others have the decency to at least pretend to be original (The South Pole instead of The Himalayas).

I will say this – the levels are gorgeous looking.  Both the sprites and the backgrounds do a great job of capturing the Disney style, and at times they are straight-up jaw-dropping.  Just look at these screenshots:

Quackshot south pole quackshot canyon Quackshot moon Quackshot ghost

Unfortunately, the gameplay doesn’t shine the way the graphics do.  The controls are floaty as fuck, rendering it very difficult to make accurate jumps.  And aside from a handful of clever moments, the level design is repetitive, bland, and sometimes straight-up illogical.

On the positive side, I did enjoy Donald’s weapon, a gun that fires plungers.  Remember all those classic cartoons where Donald Duck ran around with a plunger gun?  Well it’s back, baby!!  The plungers are actually pretty cool, not only stunning enemies, but also acting as temporary platforms when fired at walls.  In a game full of the most generic platforming imaginable, this was actually a fun and unique little gimmick.

Quackshot duckburg

Another thing I liked was the way the game makes you go back and forth between the different locations, by putting obstacles in some levels that can only be surpassed with items found in other levels.  This concept was also stolen from DuckTales, of course, but I think it’s actually used to better effect here.

All of this nonsense culminates in a final boss battle with perennial Disney villain Big Bad Pete.  Pete has many flaws, but no one can ever say that he isn’t a sharp dresser:

Quackshot Petre

It would have been a real bummer if the closing cutscene didn’t wrap up the hilariously sexist Daisy subplot, and QuackShot does not disappoint:

Quackshot Daisy present

Donald presents Daisy with a bejeweled necklace he found during his travels, and all is forgiven.  They smooch and then it’s time for…

quackshot the end

Look, this game isn’t everything it’s quacked up to be, but in spite of all my complaints, I’m still glad I played it.  If an evil madman ever decides to eradicate every copy of Capcom’s Disney games off the face of the earth, then QuackShot might be a halfway decent alternative.  But until that happens, just grab on to some DuckTales.


The Swindle

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