Review by Shady
The first Charlie the Duck was a fun 2D side-scrolling platform affair. However, the first game did have one major flaw that detracted from the experience - it was horribly unoriginal. For the sequel, Wiering Software changed things up a bit, and as a result Charlie the Duck II is an improvement over its predecessor.
No longer is our good friend Charlie (the duck) tied up with the get-to-the-other-side-of-the-level-while-picking-up-as-many-items-as-you-can-without-dying formula. This time around his adventure focuses more on exploration. Now to complete each level, Charlie must gather up a certain percentage of items scattered throughout each area. The items Charlie can pick up include coins, diamonds, and letters. The letters are the hardest to find. There are seven of them (C-H-A-R-L-I-E, get it?) hidden in each level. You get an extra life if you manage to find every letter, so your hard work is not all for naught.
Just like in the original Charlie the Duck, Charlie II features just about everything you would expect in a platform game. There's moving platforms, spike-filled pits, easily breakable bricks, and countless enemies. There are also quite a few pits full of water. However, unlike in other games, our hero doesn't drown. Since Charlie is a duck, he can swim down into the pits, which lead to new areas. And since the game is all about exploration, it is always best to use this unique swimming option.
If there was one thing wrong with the first Charlie the Duck, it was the lack of originality. The game shamelessly ripped off ideas from Sonic the Hedgehog's classic 2D games, as well as the early Super Mario Bros. games. Charlie II thankfully fixes part of that problem. The exploration idea, although I am sure it has been used in other games, is a neat concept and it is a nice change of pace from the tiring formula mentioned earlier. However, some of the enemies that were blatant copies of those in Mario games remain unchanged in Charlie II. Those such enemies are not as common as they were in the first game, but they are still noticeable.
Another thing that remains unchanged from the first game is the high level of frustration that you will get while playing. When you miss a long jump and plummet to your death, or when you jump into the air and accidentally run into an enemy, you might find yourself pounding your keyboard out of frustration. However, those problems are typical of a 2D platform game, and are acceptable.
Visually, Charlie the Duck II is still beautiful, despite looking almost exactly the same as the first game. The backgrounds are gorgeous. Every level is colorful and a pleasure to look at. Charlie's animations are as smooth as butter. There's no mistaking that Charlie II is a great-looking game.
As for the audio, well, it's still pretty bad. Since the game is based in DOS and not Windows, there is no music. There are a few sound effects dotted here and there, but they don't add anything to the game. Wiering Software claims to have a Windows version with better sound on the way, although they have been saying that for quite some time now.
All in all, Charlie the Duck II is a fun and welcome change from the first game. The two games still have a lot in common, but Charlie II's exploration method is better than the same ol'-same ol' 2D platforming formula. Keep in mind that Charlie II is shareware, and that you can only play 1/3 of the game for free. If you wish to play the other 2/3, then you must pay $15. Still, the shareware game is worth the small download and the game is one any platform fan should check out.
Best Feature - The exploration method.
Worst Feature - Some may not have the patience to explore every nook and cranny of each level.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 09/18/02, Updated 09/18/02
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