Thursday, March 5, 2009

Darkwing Duck

Radiance Software / TTI

Wow, this is one of the worst-playing games ever. The controls are bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. Seriously, they're fucking AWFUL.

But otherwise, uh, the game isn't so bad. Had its areas been fleshed out further, and had there been more of them, Darkwing might've wound up being a poor man's Castle of Illusion. As in Castle, you can perform a typical hop-attack and toss around limited-use projectiles as you travel through stages that are sometimes a great deal vaster than standard sidescrolling-platformer boards. The final level (of a small group of four) has you do lots of running around and bullet/machine/debris dodging, just as the earlier stages should. As things are, most of the fun to be had comes from putting together "bounce chains" (the game allows you to bound from one enemy/icon to another). There's some enjoyable zone exploration to conduct, as you must locate pieces of a huge hint-providing jigsaw puzzle (which can usually be found along the main route but are occasionally sequestered in tough-to-reach spots). Humorous skits that take place after the puzzle has been put together and during the ending sequence help keep the enjoyment level high.

The graphics aren't great, but they do impress at times, particularly at the end of the adventure when you face a giant, cool-looking Darkwing clone-bot in what turns out to be a pretty enjoyable battle. Nice backdrops highlight the other showdown scenes, and sprinkled multilayer effects enhance various sub-stages. The music has its own quirky appeal.

Pitting this effort against TaleSpin is a popular thing to do, but the two games just aren't that close to each other quality-wise. Darkwing demolishes its Disney brother in almost every way. DD simply has too many positive things working in its favor for it to be categorized with the worst games for the system, though it certainly can feel like one of the worst at times.

First, select a criminal to bust.

Then, contend with all kinds of weird enemies and obstacles as you search for the puzzle pieces...

...some of which can be located in very out-of-the-way places.

Put the pieces together to figure out what the bad guys' secret plan is.

Sort out a few of the enemy's henchmen...

...and take down the giant mimicker.

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