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Duck and MJ 2 vs. Pepsi Ranger
Duck and MJ 2
JSH357
Download: 125 KB
V.S.
Pepsi Ranger
Review # 10 for Pepsi Ranger
Them's Fightin' Words
    Duck and MJ 2 is just a little too short to say that it has an involving story, but it does jump into things quickly enough to say that there is at least some kind of story. The basic breakdown of plot in this demo version is that Duck, who is ironically a duck, Bunny, who is for some reason a rabbit, and MJ, who is Michael Jackson--I mean a toy car or something equivalent, decide they are really hungry for cookies. So, the adventure sends the dynamic trio on a quest to a fairly new supermarket to buy some cookies. But, when they get there, they discover the store is all out. Hence, the quest takes a new turn, the heroes are forced to seek out justice from the abominable cookie shortage, and Bunny doesn't get any less hungry. Of course Bunny gets swallowed by a hole in a cave for irony, but that's near the end of the demo. That's more or less what the demo's storyline entails.

The game's characters and storyline seem rather childish from an onlooker's standpoint, but it's still a pretty fun game. I've never played the first Duck and MJ game, so I'm not sure what to compare it to, but there's enough in this game to let it stand alone that I don't need to play the other to appreciate it. Although I will admit that after discovering what the plot is to this game, it's got me curious as to what the first one was all about. I'd mention this as a game strength because any game sequel that makes me not care what the original was about cannot in my opinion be a great game. Therefore, I applaud the author's transition of game characters into a corny, but entertaining sequel. As far as other strengths are concerned, the graphics are pretty well rendered. I would not expect much from a game like this--I'd expect something on the threshold of a ripped page from a coloring book posted on a refrigerator, but the author decided to mold the character graphics, especially in battle, into a solid 3-Dish look and feel. To this effect, I have to say that this game uses some of the best attack animation I've seen on the OHR in awhile. I'm especially impressed with the Silly Snake's (a green bogeyman looking enemy) "drain" spell, which hits the hero, does some crazy expansion maneuver, contracts to its normal size, and flies back to the Silly Snake. It's a very satisfying attack. Another trick the author used, which I wouldn't mind seeing more often, assuming it wouldn't take away from the theme of another game that would use it, is the method of making the World Map look like a real map (sort of). To be more specific, each spot on the map that leads to another place, such as towns, caves, and the supermarket, each have the names written next to them. Although this method would hurt games that depend on the element of exploration or surprise, it makes Duck and MJ 2 more unique and atmospherically enjoyable. Finally, the last good point worth mentioning is some of the subtle pokes of irony the author used. I won't talk about all of them, unless I have already, but the one I found most humorous was the last scene in which Duck and MJ help a sheepherder save his sheep from a pack of wolves. First of all, I found it funny that in a game full of personified animals, sheep are still sheep. Secondly, and even more amusing, is the fact that the sheepherder, who can use a summon spell in battle, calls on none other than a sheep to fight the wolves that they're trying to save the sheep from, and the sheep actually kicks their butts. Very nice.

As always, good and bad are two different things, and all games must have a certain degree of each. Fortunately, with the fairly low expectations I had going into this game, I can honestly say I didn't find too many faults with it. My largest complaints would possibly be with the generic information system of using townsducks to explain how to play the game. I hate it when Final Fantasy does it, and I think it's annoying when non-commercial games do it. If instructions n
Final Scores
Graphics: 7/10.0
I thought the character graphics and tilemaps were really well done, and the battle backgrounds were acceptable for the most part, but the lack of detail in the map settings (a breakfast table and a really large carpet don't make a room), cause the score for graphics to drop about two points below what it should have.
Storyline: 6/10.0
The storyline is barely on the positive side of non-existant, but for what it delivers, it's unique and surprisingly enjoyable. It drove me to grab some cookies after finishing one of the random battles.
Gameplay: 8/10.0
A few minor technical problems detract from giving it the best score, but the game's layout from the battles to the actual quest, not to mention the small level of exploration that the game permits, makes the gameplay quite impressive.
Music: 5/10.0
The music is essentially the same generic stuff that everybody has, so I can't give it a high score for originality. But, even the default music sounds good for a game like this, and I have to give the author at least a point of credit for having the gumption to use the same old stuff, regardless of what other gamers might think.
Overall Grade: B
Final Thoughts
    This is not the next Zelda or anything, but the fact that this game was better than my expectations made it a pleasant surprise. Add that to the fact that I actually had fun playing it, even though it's short and features a duck as its main character, and I can conclude that its worthy of a tryout.  



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