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Sitting Ducks

If there are any cartoon animals that have a greater potential for comedy than alligators and ducks, I don't know what they are. Sitting Ducks, a somewhat obscure show from Cartoon Network, capitalized on their potential marvelously with the story of two unlikely buddies, Bill the Duck and Aldo the Alligator. Although the show never took off, it left a licensed Game Boy Advance game in its wake. Unfortunately, the end result is hardly a fitting legacy for such a clever children's show.


For the most part, the graphics do their job. The ducks look like ducks, the gators look like gators, and the cities look like cities. Unfortunately, then there are the levels that take place in a hedge maze. These levels are unnervingly drab and lifeless, lacking any sort of landmark that you might use to find your way.


The game serves up some jazzy little tunes to accompany your adventure, but they're nothing remarkable. Some cartoon sound effects punctuate the action.


Bill and Aldo are trying to win backstage passes to the Bongo King concert. To do this, they just need 20 KDUCK radio stickers. And so, they set off on 20 cute little missions to find all the stickers they can get their hands on.

You start each mission with a brief dialogue explaining your motivation. Most levels are "collection" missions, where a character offers you a sticker in exchange for a certain number of items, and you must roam the city gathering them all. The task is far simpler than it sounds though; the items you must collect are generally set up in a large, twisting path around the city, and finishing a level is simply a matter of following the breadcrumb trail of items, snatching up the time bonus icons and avoiding the time penalty icons so that you can finish your mission within the alloted time. To make things more difficult, your character falls smack on his butt whenever he brushes against an obstacle in his way, whether it's a traffic cone, another pedestrian duck, or the invisible level boundary. Nasty alligators prowl the later levels, but the worst they'll do to you is grab you by the neck until you mash buttons and escape. The maze levels feature a few typical key and switch puzzles and so require a bit more thought. There's also a special requirement -- time or score -- that will earn you a medal for each level, and some of them are quite tough to crack. Still, everything's been skewed toward the younger age group here.

There's also a racing side-game, which feels like a tacked-on multiplayer game without the multiplayer aspect. It's a simplistic scooter race around one of 12 different circuits against 3 AI opponents. I found these races to be somewhat unfair, if not downright buggy. The instructions say that you have to drive through the checkpoint flags to successfully complete a race, but it doesn't seem to matter if you go through them or just fly past them. Without a course radar of any kind, it's difficult to keep track of exactly where the computer opponents are. It seems like the computer will lose track of the other racers and suddenly decide to respawn them directly behind or even in front of you. I've seen ducks suddenly pop out in front of me from nowhere, and I remember another race where I left all three opponents eating my dust, only to find that I had mysteriously dropped into fourth place at the next checkpoint -- without ever seeing my opponents again. This aspect of the game would be easy enough to ignore if it weren't for the mandatory racing mission in level 13. It bogs the whole game down and turns what could have been an average game into a tedious chore.

You can save your progress between levels with a six-character password. The developers didn't even seem to try and encrypt it though. If you go about three levels without getting any bonus medals and you have any sort of familiarity with the alphabet, it'll take you about thirty seconds to spot the pattern and decipher the password for level 20. (For extra credit, you can even work out how they keep track of bonus medals; if you like number puzzles, you might find that playing around with the password system is more fun than the game itself.)




It's really not a bad concept for a game, but the developers stumble in the execution. The whole project feels like it was rushed; bits of the game seem to have been removed or compromised to meet a deadline. It's a real shame too, because there was more than enough opportunity for some gameplay variety and comedic plot twists. (The game alludes to a herd of cows going on strike and a sinister plot to fry up Bill's brethen at an alligator diner, both of which result in the same old item-gathering schtick.) The lack of characterization, challenge, or even basic fun make this a hard game to recommend to anyone.

final score 3.0/10

Staff Avatar Ed Griffiths
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"Nothing can kill the Grimace!"

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