Peaking Duck — What is it?

It may be hard to remember that the Capcom seen on the N64 in no way resembled the Capcom that powered the Nintendo consoles of an earlier generation. While N64 users saw the well-respected development house release licensed crap (cough*Magical Tetris*cough) and two-years-late ports (Resident Evil 2), the Capcom of the NES years continually provided top-notch, original material. It was the Megamans, the Bionic Commandos and the Ghosts n’ Goblins that wowed gamers and solidified Capcom’s reputation. Perhaps even more amazing was how, saddled with a Disney license that most gamers would frown upon today, the Japanese wonder-developer spun hit after hit. Chief among the Disney bumper crop was an underappreciated little platformer loaded with playability and fun. That title was Duck Tales.

If you ever watched the Duck Tales cartoon, it detailed the adventures of wealthy Scrooge McDuck and his globe-hopping exploits. Duck Tales, the game, casts the player as Scrooge McDuck as he travels all over the world in search of rare treasures to add to his collection. The level variety is unsurpassed; Scrooge frequents the Amazon, Transylvania, African mines, Himalayas and the Moon in his travels. Perhaps even more inspired is the level design. While most 2D platformers are confined to straight linearity, that’s not the case with Duck Tales. Even the most linear level, the Amazon, offers at least two ways to get from Point A to Point B. Others are even more wide open. Transylvania uses transporting mirrors that warp the player all over the place, and the result is a multitude of ways to explore the level. The Moon holds a spaceship with several different routes to explore in all. This allowed Capcom to populate all sorts of nooks and crannies with hidden goodies, many of which the player might not find. Still, even with all this exploration, most levels take no more than an hour to explore in full, so things keep hopping and the levels stay fun.

Control varies from the normal shoot-and-jump mold of platformers. Scrooge can use his cane as a pogo stick to jump on enemies’ heads, killing them. The pogo stick also allows him to cross treacherous areas, which he could normally not walk on, as well as gain extra height on jumps to access out-of-reach places. He can also use his cane like a golf club, turning inanimate blocks and rocks into projectiles that kill nearby enemies. Scrooge can never “shoot” anything, so he must rely on his maneuverability and jumping skills to get out of harm’s way. Capcom brilliantly models the gameplay around the control scheme. The best example is in the Himalayas, where Scrooge cannot pogo on the top snowy layer without getting stuck, forcing the player to time the jumps so that the pogo stick lands only on enemies. Scrooge only starts out with three health points, and though goodies can be found to restore health, the player can lose a life very quickly. Since the player is only three lives away from the dreaded “Game Over” screen, precision in exploring the levels is a must. Difficult it may be, but half the fun is knowing you have to be on your game to beat a level.

Obviously Duck Tales was not a game that set the world on fire when it was released, and it certainly cannot compare to the Marios and Zeldas in terms of sheer impact on the industry. But Duck Tales is an exquisitely fun game, with interesting level design, appealing control and a familiar license that players can get into and enjoy. It definitely is not a long game, but that is representative of many games on the NES, where the fun came fast and didn’t last long. This is the Capcom we all knew (the Capcom that owners of present non-Nintendo systems know as well as we did), and we hope that this is the Capcom we will see once again on Gamecube.

Passing Time — The Great Idea

I’ve never been a very patient man. I hardly ever order items off the Internet because I prefer to go to the store and buy them. I can’t stand waiting in lines. And I hate that we don’t have more information on the Gamecube, and that we’ll have to wait until after E3 to get our hands on a US Game Boy Advance.

I’ve managed so far. Buried under a deluge of Game Boy Color games, most of which are a month old, we’ve managed to have some new content on the website every day. We’re working on bringing updated interviews and reports on a variety of third-party developers and publishers regarding Gamecube. But that doesn’t make the wait any less painful.

In March, Japan will get the first Game Boy Advance units, and you can bet we’ll have some in our hands as soon as possible. We might not understand a word of what’s written, but we’ll be racing around the track in Mario Kart Advance quicker than you can say “2D Racing.” But that’s still two months away. And don’t even get us started on the launch of Gamecube — that’s still almost a year away. Okay, maybe 10 months, according to Nintendo.

So what are we supposed to do while we wait impatiently for more gaming goodness to come from our favorite console manufacturer? Luckily we’ll have at least a couple of good games to keep us occupied — Mega Man 64 should hit very soon, and Paper Mario will come out in early February. But other than that, things are pretty dry until Aidyn Chronicles and Conker’s Bad Fur Day arrive in March. What to do?

Well, while we’re struggling to bring you what news we can dig up, I figured I’d make some recommendations. They might be silly to some, but for others (like myself), they’re a lifesaver of diverted frustrated energy.

Make A Gamecube Controller Out Of Clay
If the boys at IGN Cube can do it, so can you. If you don’t have real clay handy, just head down to the supermarket and grab a few canisters of Play-Doh. Once you get the controller done, it’s a cinch to create an actual-size Gamecube. Just take some black rope, connect it from the controller to the cube, connect the cube to the TV, and presto! Your very own homemade Gamecube. Then put in The Matrix on DVD, invite some friends over, and tell them that you got a special early unit and the fight scene they’re witnessing is rendered in real time by the Gamecube. After they haul you off to a nicely padded room, you can spend the next few months bouncing off the walls.

Get Jiggy In Software Etc.
I would never condone actions that would get someone expelled from a store. Of course not. But I think it might be fun, if bored, to walk into a Software Etc. (or any software store, really) with a feather duster — one of those big ones on a stick that contain multicolored feathers. Obviously some looks will be directed your way, but you’d immediately want to go to the shelves containing the PS2 games, and start dusting. Tsk over the poor state of the PS2 titles, which have been sitting on the shelf for so many weeks, untouched, collecting dust. If anyone happens to be browsing the section, scowl at them and slap their hand away if they attempt to touch one of the games. You could even start rearranging them in alphabetical order, if they’re not already. And if anyone asks you what you’re doing, simply scowl and say, in the gravelliest voice possible, “Must make them pretty for the master. Pretty for the ‘cube that will rule them.” If security shows up, throw the feather duster and shriek, “You will all fall before the might of Miyamoto!” Then run. I suggest you do this in a store you have no intention of ever visiting again.

Design A Gamecube RPG
Who are these people who make millions of dollars on videogames? They’re just people, and you’re a person too! Design your own Gamecube game, and reap the rewards of countless flocking fans praising your work. Never mind the games that garner more ridicule than a platypus in a dress. If you can play ’em, you can make ’em. Just start writing out an epic plot filled with twists and turns that will keep players on the edge of their seats. Then you can just find a cheap 3D modeling program and create hundreds of monsters to kill, along with some highly detailed models of the characters that will bond with players, heart and soul. Then you can just use the programming language of your choice to put it all together in a revolutionary new interface that mingles some elements of the old with spellbinding new game features that will make your game an instant blockbuster. All you need now is a few dollars to get it duplicated and shipped to stores all over the country — I recommend taking old games back to the store and trading them for newer games, which you can then sell to your friends at outrageously marked-up prices.

Wishing for an Improved Hay Day in the Future

A unique play for the farming simulation genre, Hay Day has you raising farm through beautiful 3D terrain that features multiple pathways, amazing elements and textures that can only be accessed through the mastery of a wide variety of engine. This is a fun game that only suffers from some spotty frame rates and a tendency to be repetitive.

Based in the not-too-distant future, Hay Day tells the story of a culture that has become too successful, and its citizens are bored with their easy lives. Only a lucky few still work 40-hour weeks and the rest of the society members have to while away their days in leisure. Some of the youth with nothing better to do begin to use their time to cultivate a farm.

There are 10 different characters to choose from and various different farms. The characters vary in their strength, and advantages while the farms are more specialized. There is a plants and animals that gets more are equally useful in its own right. There really isn’t a perfect combination, which plants and animals you pick will depend a great deal on your personal style of play.

Everything in the game except for your initial board must be earned. At first you must prove your skills through a series of test to convince your trainer to teach you new strategy. Learn enough tricks and portals to different parts of the farm begin to open up and the planting begins in earnest. For more useful strategy on Hay Day, just open this on your browser.

Graphically it’s not easy to find fault with Hay Day. The characters are large, well-animated figures and the levels are the best 3D farms to ever grace on mobile. A checkpoint based format sits inside wide open city blocks so, as long as you hit the checkpoints in order, you can choose your own paths through the farm. The feelings of flying through a real farm are numerous.

The one big downer in Hay Day though, is the complete lack of a sense of urgency. Perhaps the characters are intentionally generation Q slacker-types but that still doesn’t excuse the lackluster audio. The taunts and voice samples are uninspired and the music is just senseless techno-crap. Even the cheers when you win are half-hearted and bored sounding. I guess, this is where the game needs to improve in its updates. We will see how SuperCell will do their magic in order to give what the fans are looking for the game.