This week continues Danopian December, in which I will review only games that were gifted to me by that fowl punster of fowl punsters: Danopian The Manopian.
Today we’ll find out what lies over the rainbow.
It’s rubber and it squeaks. It’s Rubber Ducky and the Rainbow Gun!
Sponsored By: Danopian
Time squeaked: 42 minutes
You’re The One review
If you weren’t reading this summary review, you could be done with the game by now.
Lots Of Fun review
It's a rare thing that I can do a full review of a game for this feature. Usually an hour is barely enough time to see all the stuff that the developer wants to lead with in the hopes of making a good first impression. It's one of the reasons why so many games here get a double thumbs up from yours truly, the other being that I’m a discerning gamer. For certain values of "discerning," anyway.
Rubber Ducky and the Rainbow Gun is one of those games that you can finish in less than an hour. It took me less than forty-five minutes to see everything except the final, “secret” level, which can only be unlocked by completing all of the other levels without losing any health and is, therefore, not something I would see if I played forty five years, let alone forty five minutes. You see, Rubber Ducky and the Rainbow Gun is also brutally difficult.
You play as a small, polygonal rubber duck. I mean polygonal in the most literal and straightforward way possible: Your character is represented by a square with a duck face drawn on it. You have a magical gun that shoots rainbow bullets (hence the title), and which you aim with the mouse pointer. In each level you are assailed by hundreds of spiky shapes and the occasional spider, which you must avoid or shoot with your magical rainbow gun.
I suppose I could label it a bullet hell game, but I remember what happened the last time I used that term without being perfectly certain I was right, so I’m for darn sure going to keep my mouth shut about that. Suffice it to say there are a lot of enemies on the screen at any given time, some of which are vulnerable to your attacks and some of which are not. That sounds like bullet hell to me, but as I said I don’t know what I’m talking about so I’m going to shut up.
Now, I can’t stop talking about everything I don’t have any idea about, otherwise I might as well stop typing now and fill the rest of this space with plagiarized Wikipedia articles. So let’s take a moment to appreciate the humor of this game. The story – and yes there is a story for a almost-certainly-not-bullet-hell (but what do I know) game with only ten levels – is told in the style of a children’s book. More accurately, it’s told in the style of a parent reading a book of classic fairy tales while simultaneously trying to avoid any uncomfortable questions about murder or furry subculture. So instead of the big bad wolf eating Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother, he merely convinces her to go on a cruise and take the sea air for her health.
So it is with Rubber Ducky and the Rainbow Gun. You have a gun that makes the spiky creatures explode, but that’s just because they love rainbows so much that they turn into a shower of overjoyed confetti. And the only reason they hurt Rubber Ducky is that they’re so eager to hug it that they forget how spiky they are.
Battleblock Theater did this sort of joke much better, but it’s nice to see other people trying to capture that kind of magic.
There’s also a lot of winking and fourth-wall breaking, which Battleblock Theater also did much better, but it still gets the point across. The narrator gives the player hints in a way that’s pretending to try to be subtle, if that makes any sense, which is actually kind of difficult to pull off. It’s like how only very good actors can convincingly play bad actors. They have to act like they’re acting badly, but they have to act well to act like they’re acting badly.
Let’s move on, because my head is starting to hurt from that last sentence alone. The point is that the narrator manages to sound like he’s trying to be subtle about giving you a hint even as he is explicitly telling you the hint. Well done!
The gameplay is responsive, but I’ve never been a big fan of side-view platforming controls where the player weapon is aimed by the mouse. Usually what happens, for me, is I lose track of the cursor and end up shooting in the wrong direction. I could see that kind of control scheme being useful under certain conditions, such as a boss fight against a bullet sponge (does anyone else think failing to have a bullet-sponge boss in a game where a rubber ducky has a gun is a gigantic missed opportunity?) but when you’re surrounded by enemies it makes more sense to make the targeting relative to the player, as in a dual stick shooter, than relative to the environment.
Part of what makes the game more difficult than it needs to be is the fact that there are five weapons, which you can select using the number keys. Different kinds of enemies are more vulnerable to some weapons than others, so it behooves you to change up to suit the situation, but I can’t seem to get the hang of switching weapons on the wing. Call it a personal failure, I suppose, but I like being a flawed human being, because people are like emeralds – the flaws are what make us beautiful.
This fortune cookie moment has been brought to you by Kikkoman duck sauce. It’s Mandarin-alicious!
Will I keep playing?
Nope. I’m done. I can see where the challenge of getting one-hundred-percent perfect scores on all levels might appeal to some people, but that particular bit of gamer quackery isn’t one I’m down with.
When the bill comes due, is it the Devil Daggers of its kind?
It’s certainly up there with the Devil Daggers of shooters, but since it’s a shooter it can’t be the Devil Daggers of shooters, because Devil Daggers is already the Devil Daggers of shooters, and making Rubber Ducky and the Rainbow Gun the Devil Daggers of Devil Daggers-like games would be almost as confusing as this sentence.
So no, but it’s close. Call it nine drakes out of a fortune.