So why did the duck cross the water? In SPLASHY DUCK, it's to grab a bunch of coins before colliding with a whale. So, uh, now you know?
SPLASHY DUCK is another addition to the RCMADIAX line of simply designed score attack games. The player guides a duck endlessly swimming a vertical channel in the middle of the screen. When the duck hits the rubber band-like barriers on the top or bottom, it will be sent back in the opposite direction. While the duck can never stop, hitting the A button will make it pull a 180 and swim back the way it came, no barrier needed.
The goal of the game is to collect coins that appear one-at-a-time upon the duck's path. The only obstacles getting in the way of the duck's Scrooge-like desires are large and small whales that travel horizontally across the screen. Hit one of these and the game instantly ends.
For what little is involved, the operation is spot on. The duck turns on a dime, which proves to be a relief when whales are bearing in on both sides and a rapid tempo of button presses are needed to keep it relatively locked in place. These times can even feel a bit tense.
Collisions never feel unfair as a good amount of time is given to see the whales coming in from the sides. Game overs tend to happen from a lack of foresight or the inevitable temptation to Evel Knievel your duck past an incoming pod.
The pixelated style is also not complex, but works well here. The duck and whales are upon a field of wavy lines that portrays water with a mild sense of an EarthBound battle background, but it does not become distracting. There is a jaggy jumpiness when the screen transitions back to title after a game over, but it has no bearing on the gameplay.
As with many games of its type, a lack of variety is SPLASHY DUCK's biggest downfall. Whales are the only objects to worry about, and they never seem to pull any tricks or even become more difficult to dodge as time and coins go up. There is a sense of progression missing or things to strive for other than a high score. Even an addition like a special coin traveling in from the side to try and nab would have added to the mix.
There is also the question of whether the Wii U is the best platform for this game. The visuals do pop on a TV screen, but this does feel more suited for quick bouts of 3DS play.
SPLASHY DUCK has a fun look and competent functionality, making it a solid entry for its type of game, but will likely prove much too simple for many to get hooked for long. It's easy to see younger players being charmed by it, however, and it could be a good way for them to develop coordination skills.