Time Ducks Review
- 'Ugly' pixel-art style feels coherent and as a result genuinely 'whacky'.
- A strong example of gateway Arcade gameplay; the first taste is free and only gets harder from there.
- Plenty of challenging achievements with unlockables that modify gameplay.
- Roulette icons need to be clearer; rote memorization of combos almost easier than looking at the indicator.
- Scaling gameplay can result in stagnant repetition; easy to reach your skill cap without further variation.
Time Ducks is the sort of arcade game that occurs when you let your imagination run rampant while tying it down with solid game design principles; it's not perfect, but it's a fun ride while it lasts.
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There are two ways to approach a game like Time Ducks by Tough Guy Studios. One is to simply say "it's Frogger, combined with Flight Control after a heavy session of drinking in the Hot Tub Time Machine" and just leave it at that... I'll even pat you on the bottom as you scamper away to your room to enjoy it. The other is to put on a legitimate reviewers hat and wait for the inevitable gaming coma that comes when you finish a round, not quite knowing what happened, but knowing you did something right.
This makes Time Ducks sound like some sort of insane mess, however it's anything but; despite its garish pixel-art style and liberal take on aesthetics, everything you do in Time Ducks makes sense. Your goal is ultimately very simple: Animals will appear and you must draw a path for them to follow back to their home. Playing this way will score you points, but it's not the optimal way and that's when things start to get complicated.
Firstly, players can manipulate time by swiping left to reverse (which is in limited supply) and right to speed up. This allows you to save animals that would otherwise be turned in to roadkill. Next, players can create 'combos' by sending creatures home in a specific order, increasing the score multiplier and unlocking tier two or three creatures that are worth even more points. This in turn allows players to unlock achievements and rare creatures including a wild Justin Bieber (don't ask).
The sum total is a game that quickly shifts and evolves despite its simple beginnings, creating something of a hall of mirrors situation - once you think you've figured out where all the doors are you find a new one. In a way, the biggest worry of the game is waiting for the novelty of it all to wear off, usually from hitting your natural skill cap.
Time Ducks is an example of classic arcade gaming transformed and transposed for a modern audience - its scaling difficulty caters to a broad range of skills, revealing its secrets faster to those who 'get' the gameplay while slowly nudging those who don't; its bright 'retro' appearance is 'ugly' yet coherent and full of life in a way that reminds me of John Kricfalusi's (Kris-falusi) animations (Ren & Stimpy); and its simple controls obscure what can be a relatively complex game.
If you're after an addictive arcade title that begs to eat up any spare moment you give it, check out Time Ducks.
DescriptionTime Ducks will take you back in time in more than one way:
It is a through-and-through homage to the adventurous spirit and pixel art of the arcade games from the hey-days.
You simply control the safe passing of a variety of animals across a road brimming with infuriated drivers in order to boost your multiplier, and unlock an ever unfolding universe of illogical logic ranging from Justin Bieber through a +5 Machete all the way to the recipe for a very tasty rabbit stew...
Oh, by the way, you also control time.
What they said:
[...] it is one of the most unique experiences on any platform, and comes highly recommended for the iPad and iPhone.
But £1.49 [prize has been lowered even further] is a small price to pay for a game that most will happily fritter away an afternoon or two with.
Time Ducks may not be the finest iOS game of the year, but it’s easily one of the most memorable.
The clash of the superb sound with the comically naïve artwork - and a few genuinely funny lines - is enough to keep Time Ducks on the right side of twee indie whimsy. But of course, what matters is a moreish pot-pourri game design that mixes Braid's time manipulation in with Frogger, that ios game about landing planes and a gloriously illogical hierarchy of animal
-Eurogamer [Game of the week 2011-12-09]
Aside from the solid gameplay, Time Ducks is also brimming with personality. The tutorial is packed with humor and the pixel visuals are simple but eye catching. There are also tons of funny achievements and tiny bits interspersed through the game which will almost always
draw a chuckle. [...] it's actually one of the most fun and interesting line drawing games I've ever played. Definitely give it a look.
[...]the highscore table and note-perfect humour (which, just like the
pixel-art graphics and whimsical audio, strikes the perfect balance between faux-naivety and self-awareness) proves more than enough to keep you playing in the traffic.
"[...]so the brain will melt nicely."
"Contrary to associate with the kitsch look, pure logical game design."
-Exite Japan (Both quotes loosly translated)
by spencekarl - Version 1.2.3 - Jan 25, 2012
Great update... Love this game. So strange, so fast, so fun!
Honest, charming and fun
by Norondor - Version 1.2.3 - Jan 26, 2012
Even before the addition of 12-minute challenge and the excellent
mindcraft mode this was one of the best uses of your app money.
What's New in Version 1.4.5- Animals have a highlight when they appear in the early game, and they take a small break at first, before crossing the road. This makes it slightly easier for beginners.
- Dogs appear a little less frequently.
- The high score menu in game is now local high scores only. If you're using Game Center, your score will still be submitted.
- Small tweaks and fixes.