Duck Life 2
Duck Life 2: A New Champion is Born
Ever wonder what goes on in feathery little duckling noggins? If Duck Life 2 is any indication, they yearn to become the World Champion - or at least wear the crown of one.
As its trainer, your job is to get the quacker fit enough to win against other World Champion wannabees. You go through four different training regimens in order to increase your duckling's level in those categories. Improving the Running stat will help make your ducklete speedier on flat ground. Flying helps give your duckling a speedy glide off cliff obstacles. Swimming makes it easier to wade through bodies of water. And finally, Climbing gives your duckling a boost in overcoming vertical obstacles.
Duck Life 2's game play is pretty basic and series veterans will find that the mechanics are similar to the first game. Game controls for the training sessions are key pad centric. Up corresponds to jumping or increasing your duckling's flight height. The Down key makes your ducklette dive or avoid obstacles from above while flying. The Right key makes your duckling run faster and the Left key makes it lag behind. The left and right directional keys also determines which side your duck clings to during the Climb training.
As mentioned previously, there are four types of training mini games for your duckling. Specifically, you may opt to play the Climbing, Swimming, Running or Flying training games in any order. The game play for each of these vary slightly and, unfortunately, also come packed with their own annoying glitches.
Like in the first game, Running entails jumping over ball obstacles while your ducklete continuously hops forward. The balls are randomly spaced apart, so jumping over two simultaneous rolling obstacles may prove to be a bit tricky. The most problematic glitch here is that sometimes your duckling will just warp forward while midair, resulting in getting hit by a ball upon landing. Jumps have a slight delay as well, which can get a bit bothersome.
Flying entails lasting as long as you can while avoiding incoming hindrances above and below. An untimely dive will also cut your flight short, so it is imperative to prevent decreasing your altitude too much. At high speeds, drastic dipping is almost inevitable, especially if the obstacles frequently change positions.
Swimming is similar to flying in terms of controls. In this training mini game, you maneuver your duckling to dive or jump in order to avoid incoming objects such as islands, luxury ships and walls. While not a totally game breaking bug, landing on objects such as clouds may result in a double jump and possibly, a squished duckling.
Climbing is the newest type of training, which requires you to move your duck from side to side while it goes up a jagged mountain. The real challenge here is to time your switches in order to avoid getting left off screen. If you are unlucky, the rock faces may end up too far apart resulting in a near impossible leap. Paths may also end up too far off the side of the screen, giving you zero visibility.
While not exactly a training session, your duckling requires the proper nutrition in order for it to thrive as a racer. In this game, you must feed seeds to your pet in order to increase his Energy stat. Entering a race with an insufficient amount of energy will cut the race short due your duck falling flat midway through. This stat works just like the others wherein filling up a bar will result in a permanent increase.
The actual races are automatic, so the only way you will really win is to be better than the competition. This basically means that there is an unspoken rule which requires you to reach the maximum stat level allowed at any point in the game in order to unlock the next race.
Unlike the first game, Duck Life 2 employs the use of a level cap. The only way to increase the maximum level cap is to win in the races and buy a level upgrade in the shop. This serves to chop up the training sessions so you will always have something to do until you actually beat the game. While it is nothing to break out the party hats for, it does serve its purpose and is the simplest solution to overcome a deficiency in the first game.
The Duck's Eye View: Delivery and Replay Value
Graphics-wise, Duck Life 2 still retains its predecessor's surprisingly charming visuals while adding a few bits and pieces of its own. The good part is that the backgrounds have been improved. A few of them, such as quackified bill board ads may even make you giggle. The ducklings also retain their customizable, seemingly-one-legged cuteness, giving series veterans something familiar to look forward to. However, a few quirks such as off screen counters as well as unreadable text makes the graphics for this game far from polished.
On the bright side, Duck Life 2 does make use of hip beats to get you into a duck training mood. While there are only a few music and sound effects employed throughout the game, they are sufficient enough to make things less boring.
Finishing the game also nets you extra rewards aside from additional paint and head toppers. Specifically, you will have access to the Cheats Menu as well as the Level Editor.
The Cheats Menu gives you a few additional options to try out. With it, you may change the time of day, give your duckling a new name, get free seeds, try out new customizations and toggle the Extreme Training mode. Extreme Training amps up the difficulty by making your ducklete extra fast -and making things extra buggy. While it sounds good in theory, the wonky execution leaves much to be desired.
The Level Editor is yet another aspect that could have used some polish. First, there is a severe lack of color choices when it comes to the obstacles you can place around the stage. While his rival runs without a hitch, your own duckling seems to refuse to run properly on any stage combination you decide on. Tweaking the quacker's stats do not do anything useful, other than possibly make him do the moon walk, which is a laugh at best. Unfortunately, there is no way to complete your custom level due to the fact that there is no way to place an actual goal or finish line. Even a means to save your level is missing in action, so this specific aspect is rendered useless.
While the effort to add more features to this installment in the Duck Life series is commendable, the bugs it comes with really tend to take away from the experience. The simple, uncluttered game play we appreciated in the first game loses its shine due to the number of game play issues Duck Life 2 brings into the mix. Even younger players who have started with the first game may find this one a bit frustrating.
For the most part, it truly feels as if this second installment of the series served as an experiment base for the developer. The buggy gameplay, inclusion of a level editor, the rehash of the competition and leveling system all suggest that the devs are trying out new ideas to see how well they work together as a whole. Still, since they already put up the effort of making and publishing a game, they might as well have gone all the way and polished everything up instead of handing out a roughly finished game.
Duck Life 2 may still tide over players who have finished the first game, but with newer installments out in the market, this sequel definitely takes a back seat to its better executed versions.