Review by Shady
"Alive and breathing."
Charlie the Duck is a simple 2D side-scrolling platform game, along the likes of the NES Super Mario Bros. video games. Charlie and Mario have quite a bit in common. Both travel through exotic locales, both gain extra lives if they pick up 100 of a certain item, and both face some very similar enemies along their journeys. There are enough similarities to warrant that Wiering Software was definitely inspired by Nintendo's Mario games while making Charlie the Duck. Since almost all of the Mario games were great, that should mean that Charlie the Duck should be great as well, right? Well, yes and no.
First things first, Charlie the Duck is a fun game. You get to control Charlie (a duck, hence the game's title of ''Charlie the Duck'') as he travels throughout many colorful and outlandish worlds. These worlds consist of numerous enemies, bricks, moving platforms, and just about everything else you would expect in a 2D platform game. Also, just like in other platform games, Charlie will die if he falls into the ominous, never-ending black pits found in each level. However, if he falls into a pit full of water, unlike other games, Charlie will not die. You see, being a duck has its advantages - Charlie can swim. In some water pits, he can dive down into the water and head on out to another part of the level or into a secret area. These secret areas are usually full of goodies like bonus coins, diamonds, and hearts, all of which are necessary on Charlie's trip. It's certainly nice to be able to swim and not drown every time you touch the water.
Although it is fun, Charlie the Duck is also a frustrating game. Cheap deaths are always imminent while you are playing as Charlie. Since you are only allowed to be hit/touched three times by the enemies before dying, you may find yourself pounding the keyboard when you die over and over again. One particular moment of frustration is fighting the first boss. At first glance, the boss seems simple enough - there's a big fish that shoots fireballs, along with two little fish that do nothing. However, once you are fighting you will realize that first impressions aren't always right. To beat the big fish, you have to jump on its head five times without dying. That would be easy if it weren't for the fact that you have to hit the fish in one very tiny and precise area of his head for it to count as a successful hit. To be honest, it took me a good twenty times to figure out how to beat the boss, then another twenty times to actually win. Make no mistake about it, Charlie the Duck is one ''tough cookie''.
I normally like fun, yet challenging, platform games, and I do like Charlie the Duck, but the game seriously needs to be more original. Like I mentioned earlier, Charlie is very similar to Mario. Although they are different in some areas (Charlie's a duck and Mario's a plumber, Mario can get bigger and shoot fireballs and Charlie cannot, etc.), the general concept is still the same. Get this coin, jump on this enemy, break this brick, reach this platform, blah blah blah. Some more originality would have definitely been nice.
Unoriginal or not, Charlie the Duck is still a beautiful game. The graphics could easily pass for a Sega Genesis or Super Nintendo game. The backgrounds are lush and vivid, showcasing some very fine color and detail. Charlie himself also looks great, with top notch animations to boot. However, the enemies, bricks, and whatnot all seem too similar to Super Mario Bros. Some enemies are almost 100% the same as found in the Mario games, only with different colors. They don't look bad at all, but they aren't original.
The game's sound is almost nonexistent throughout game play. There is no music, only primitive sound effects when you perform a task such as jumping or landing on an enemy's head. Some more sound would have been nice, but it is not a necessity.
All in all, Charlie the Duck is a fun and challenging, yet unoriginal 2D platform game. The game is currently released as shareware, although registration is now free to anyone who takes the time to fill out a short email form. If you're looking for a good, free platform game and don't mind that it blatantly ripped off the classic Mario games, then you will enjoy Charlie the Duck. It's a short download anyway and, since it's free, it's definitely worth checking out.
Best Feature - It's free now. Hooray!
Worst Feature - WHERZ TEH ORGIANLITY?!?!1!1?
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 05/13/02, Updated 09/14/02
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