Donk! The Samurai Duck logo

Is this duck-based platform game a high flyer or does it deserve a roasting. We have got the lowdown.

When an early version of this game appeared on an Amiga Format Coverdisk (AF45), it was called Dong! and caused a bit of a stink with a major retailer, who was not having a game with such a lewd, suggestive name on their nice respectable shelves.

Young programming team The Hidden reluctantly agreed to change the name to Donk!, somehow resisted the temptation to rename the central character William and call the game an abbreviation of that name, and signed a deal with DMI... just before the company went bust.

It seemed that Donk! might never see the light of day, but Supervision picked it up, and here it is.

The hero of this platform performance is a duck. Not any duck, but a Samurai duck. The fact that he (or possibly she, I am not sure how you tell with ducks) is a Samurai, seems of little relevance because this duck does not kick things, throw spiky things or seem to have much interest at all in martial arts. No, this duck jumps on things, falls on things, collects diamonds and runs like hell for the exit when he has bagged all the gems and the screen goes red.

Quacky races
Got the idea? Right, let us just recap for the ones at the back. Donk! is a platform game in which you control a duck that leaps around various levels (there is a total of 112 of the bleeders) collecting diamonds and avoiding water hazards, green blobby things that fall from the ceiling, flying things, spikes, flames and suchlike.

You must also activate switches to open doors and make platforms solid. To help you in your task you have the ability to float, shield yourself, explode or jump higher than usual. When you have collected all the diamonds the screen goes red, the music changes from a happy bouncy ducky tune to a more urgent tempo and you must race against the clock to reach the exit.

If you reach the exit, you return to an option screen and select the next level. At some points you have a choice between levels and occasionally you must return to a level to find a hidden exit (with the help of a map). The 112 levels contain seven worlds and one fortress, which you can only enter by collecting a key.

Right, got the hang of that? It all sounds reasonably familiar, and at first glance Donk! seems a fairly average variation on the platform theme. But Donk! is a real grower and if you are not hopelessly hooked after three levels, you have got no soul. Donk! is an incredibly frustrating exercise, not because any one facet is particularly difficult, but because every aspect requires concentration.

Man with a bill
Just when you think you have got a level licked you get careless with a green blobby thing or make a complete mess of a jump you have disdainfully sailed across countless times before. It is at times like these that you may take some comfort by reminding yourself of The Duck Joke:

"Mummy, mummy, there is a duck at the door with a hat on."
"Don't be silly dear, it is a man with a bill."

Or if you get really annoyed you could, perhaps recite the following at the screen:
"How do you turn a duck into a soul singer? Put it in the microwave until its bill withers."

Feel better now? Anyway, in terms of gameplay and difficulty Donk! is just about right. What it lacks is that one element of startling originality that would put it up there with the very best platform games.

On the plus side Donk! has some neat touches, such as the self-enhancing AGA mode and the two-player option. If you are playing Donk!on an AGA chipset Amiga, just select that option and you get a version that takes advantage of the AGA graphic capabilities to create a jazzier background. The two player split screen is quite an innovation in Amiga games, and although it takes a bit of getting used to, is a strong feature.


WHO ARE THE HIDDEN?
Donk! The Samurai Duck: Logo of The Hidden The Hidden are a young programming team from Norfolk comprising 21-year-old Craig Howard (graphics and design), Simon Leggett, also 21 (graphics) and 22-year-old William Bell (lead programmer).
They met about four years ago, on a computer studies course at college in Norwich, and began working on Donk!, their first commercial release, about 18 months ago.
The Hidden say they are totally committed to developing games for the Amiga (Craig has had an Amiga for about six years) and are particularly interested in experimenting with the capabilities of the AGA chipset.


Donk! The Samurai Duck logo

Wo Ninjakröten, Turboigel und Lauffrösche die Plattformen bevölkern, braucht man sich über Saumrai-Enten nicht zu wundern - Bühne frei für Supervisions kämpferischen Wasservogel!

Ehe Ihr nun darüber jammert, daß weiter im heft auch Team 17 eine Plattform-Ente in Jump & Run-Reservat ausgesetzt hat, laß Euch gesagt sein, daß dieses Game durchaus eine Premiere ist: Erstmals bekommt man hier die normale und die aufgemotzte 1200er-Version zusammen auf ein und denselben Disks!

Unterschiede gibt es freilich nur bei der Optik, das Spielprinzip bleibt gleich: Donk behüpft multidirektional scrollende Unterwasser-, Höhlen- oder Techno-Landschaften und sammelt unter Zeitdruck Diamanten auf, bis sich das Tor zum nächsten Level öffnet.

Da es davon sage und schreibe 112 Stück gibt, ist man für die Save-Option sehr dankbar, auch das Erpels Langschwert ist eine feine Sache, lassen sich damit doch all die Fische, Schnecken und andere Gegner prächtig niedermähen.

Die Steuerung kann an individuelle Bedürftnisse angepaßt werden, und wie es sich im Genre gehört, fehlen Sammel-Extras von Schutzschilden über Smartbombs bis zu Schwebflügeln ebensowenig wie versteckte Bonusräume.

Dazu kommt noch ein horizontal geteilter Splitscreen für den Team-Modus, was ja bereits "Wiz 'n' Liz" gut bekommen ist.

Und so fehlt es Donk zwar ein wenig an Originalität, jedoch nicht an Spielbarkeit. Auch Musik und Sound-FX klingen in beiden Fassungen recht gefällig, allerdings müssen A500-Besitzer optische Abstriche in Kauf nehmen, denn mit Parallax-Effekten und wirklich bunten Sprites wartet nur der 1200er auf - unsere Grafik-Wertung bezieht sich daher auf diese Version, ansonsten sind hier runde 15 Pronzentpunkte abzuziehen. (rl)



Donk! The Samurai Duck logo

A duck-based platformer. Enough said.

Everybody knows how tortuous life on the dole can be. One of the few days to pack up your troubles and escape for a couple of hours is to lose yourself in a computer game. Money supply is as tight as a pair of bath-shrunk Levis, so you have to make sure you get your money's worth.

Alternatively, you could write your own game. Who knows, you might just get lucky and hit the big time: free lunches, name on cardboard, Andrew Braybrook, throwing up in trains and travel for hours and hours to the loveliest places on earth.

This is just what happened to Craig Howard, William Bell and Simon Leggett, who collectively are known as 'The Hidden'. Allegedly, their name is derived from the fact they all live in Norfolk and would prefer this information to remain hidden. They all attended the same college and obtained HND's in Computer Studies for their troubles. How were they rewarded? Straight down the Job's Centre, that's how.

Being enterprising types, they began coding PD demos and games and that kind of thing. Their ideas and programs finally caught the eye of commercial software house, Supervision.

Rumour has it that Donk is not the original name of the game and that the eponymous hero was not even a duck. Collectively the AP team cannot work out what it may have been. We guess that we're not big, hard or clever enough for that type of adult joke. Poor us.

Donk is a platform game. It comes packaged in a cardboard box with an outer plastic-laminated paper sleeve. Inside this box, which incidentally you have to take the sleeve off of to get into, are three diskettes and the instruction manual. They contain the program code and instructions respectively for the Donk game.

If you switch your Amiga on and put these 'diskettes' into your computer's 'disk drive' they will be put through a process known as 'loading' or 'booting'. Wait for a few minutes or less and a screen, known as a 'requester' screen will appear. This screen asks you to press key zero for 'normal mode' or key one for 'AGA mode'. Here you will have to engage in some product research.

If you own an Amiga 1200 or 4000 then select 'AGA mode'. Everyone else will have to content themselves with 'Normal mode'. Well 'ard, don't-give-a-duck, A1200 and 4000 types can prove how 'wacky' they are by choosing Normal mode just for laughs.

There are another couple of requester screens, but the only one of note is the options screen. This allows access to the number of players, music on/off selection and jump controls. The last option listed here is very interesting. Too many games of the platform nature (such as this very month's , for example) don't allow for the fact that many players find it easier to use the fire button to jump than the up control of the stick. One up for The Hidden there, for sure.


27 quid? Quack quack oops

Now that all the details on how to get into the game have been satisfactorily explained, let's discuss the game itself. (And not before time. - Ed)

At the start, you are faced with the 'Adventure Map'. It is from this map that you will be able to gain access to the whole 112 levels.
Yes, that's right, 112 levels spread over seven exciting worlds. Each world contains 15 thrilling levels and one fortress. The fortress can only be entered after having collected an access key. It is in these fortresses that you get to fight your arch enemy 'Eider Down'.

Eider down is usually found inside expensive quilts. It is very light, very warm and very expensive. Conceptually, the fact that Eider Down is Don's enemy could be described as humour: 'eider down' originates from the fine plumage of the Northern Sea Duck. The only thing we know about Donk is that he was an ugly duckling. But that's more than enough for us to make the connection, right kids? Ho Ho Ho. (Hello? Anybody home? - Ed)

So, to business. How does the game play, what does it look like, why do you want to play it, where might you want to play it, and when is it playable?
The game plays much like any other platform game. You always start at the left of the screen. From there, it's just a matter of exploring the level, collecting gems (the mainstay of Donk) obtaining power-ups, switching switches,killing baddies and generally trying to say out of trouble. So far, so bloody what, eh?

Donk, despite the fact that you get a nice sense of parallax with the A1200 background screen, looks like one of the better PD games. It doesn't have that glitzy glossy gel-like sheen that many of us have come to expect from modern commercial releases.

Don seems to have suffered from pixel abrasion as if a steel-wool Brillo pad had been drawn across the screen. This may sound harsh, but Cam was playing Disposable Hero on the A1200 while I was playing Donk on the 1200. Donk was apocalyptically eclipsed by D-Hero's radiant beauty.

Graphics do not a game make though. Donk has plenty of endearing little touches. The hero himself is likeable, though not exactly loveable. When left to his own devices, he puffs and pants and blinks like a nervous person with a tic. Power-ups are usefully varied and add a fair amount of strategy to the scene.

It's probably advisable to play Donk in your bedroom/study/nest with a friend, for one of the best things about Donk is the ability to play a simultaneous split-screen two-player game. Depending on your particular foibles and personality make-up, the two-player game can be competitive or cooperative. If competitive, look out for the teleport function, whereby both players are simultaneously swapped in location. This can be disorientating and frustrating, all from one handy little capsule.

So, is Donk playable all the time? The simple answer is yes. You're not going to finish it in one sitting. A handy little save/load function lets you save the game at any time and restart from that point whenever you feel like it This is much more convenient than having to write down code numbers and stuff.

Conclusion time now. Donk isn't going to ruffle your feathers with outstanding innovation or originality. What were you eggspecting? But on the other hand, it won't make you feel 'down' 'eider'. (Stop this right now. - Ed) But 27 quid? Quack quack oops. No way! Despite the quantity of levels and variety of creatures, Donk is overpriced for what it is. Asking people to shell out any more is quackers. (Nurse, bring me the big stick with the nails in the end. - Ed)


POWER-UPS AWARDED - PUNISHMENT WITHHELD
Donk! The Samurai Duck Collect enough of these to exit. Donk! The Samurai Duck Switchable blocks respond to this.
Donk! The Samurai Duck Drillable platforms let you go down. Donk! The Samurai Duck Amazingly, this is a switchable block.
Donk! The Samurai Duck View the whole level with this handy facility. Donk! The Samurai Duck Only available in two-player mode. Nicely confusing.
Donk! The Samurai Duck Spikes. Land here and you die. Donk! The Samurai Duck An 'eggstra' shield to withstand attacks.
Donk! The Samurai Duck Mystery exits can usefully help you out. (Get it?) Donk! The Samurai Duck Smart bomb egg. Very explosive.
Donk! The Samurai Duck Float egg. Can be just dandy.
Donk! The Samurai Duck The goal of most levels is the non-mystery exit. Donk! The Samurai Duck .controls your reverses one This
Donk! The Samurai Duck Megalomania in the shape of a powerful shield.
Donk! The Samurai Duck If you die you can start up here. Donk! The Samurai Duck Big jump and jump big.
Donk! The Samurai Duck Old timer. Everything monochromes.

Donk! The Samurai Duck logo

SUPERVISION, OUT NOW £25.99

As Samurai ducks go, Donk is one of the hardest. He has seen his way through various name changes (i.e. the highly-suspicious Dong), he has suffered at the hands of collapsing companies and even endured price hikes. Now, he has landed safely in the hands of Waddingtons' subsidiary Supervision. Unfortunately, after all the shenanigans, it was not really worth the wait.

In its initial stages, Dong looked like a sure-fire winner. Somewhere along the line, though, this duck has turned into a bit of a turkey. I know it is a bad joke, but it is true.

In this one or two-player platformer, you guide Donk through 112 levels which are spread throughout the watery kingdom, collecting gems and defeating bad guys.

At the start of each level, you are told how many diamonds you need to collect to complete it. When you have collected the correct amount from the maze-like screen, you have got ninety seconds to get out before the area autodestructs! Each level has multiple exits and the entire game is held together in a self-building map, rather like the Super Mario World games.

Well, that is all the good points out of the way. The bad points are few but significant. For a start, the level designs are extremely questionable in places. Even something as simple as jumping onto platforms can be perilous.

This is because the collision detection is pixel perfect and there is no margin for error. So, on one level, which has you jumping across a series of small platforms, it is far too easy to miss the edge leaving you to fall to the bottom of the screen and die. This can get very monotonous and after losing a dozen or so lives on this section, I began to get seriously annoyed.

Even the graphics are a hindrance. The backdrops are so bright and colourful that you cannot tell which is scenery and which are the bits you can actually stand on. I lost count of the times that I innocently leapt upon a solid looking box, only to fall through it to my death.

It could have been so good as well.



Donk! The Samurai Duck CD32 logo CD32

Two games that on the surface offer little, but with a bit of perserverence turn out to be worth exploring are Naughty Ones (Interactivision, 071-702 9391, £25.99 80 per cent) and Donk! (Supervision, 0348 840004, £25.99 77 per cent).

Donk! the platform game starring a Samurai Duck which scored a tasty 85 per cent in AF53 has been tweaked for its appearance on CD32. Sadly, the animated sequences and slightly different way in which the levels are laid out do not really add to the gameplay, and seem to slow down the loading time.

The Let's Go message that flashes up before new levels is particularly annoying, because what it really means is: Let's Hang Around For A Bit And Stare At The Ceiling For A Short While. Despite this (and the graphics, which do not look any better), Donk! is worth persevering with because it is a testing and compelling platformer.



Donk! The Samurai Duck CD32 logo CD32

>Klar sollen die hersteller ihre neuen Versilberungen älterer Games optisch und akustisch aufbohren - bloß so wie Supervision mit diesem Jump & Run sollen sie es halt gerade nicht machen!

Anno Disk war das Plattform-Geflügel hübsch anzusehen und ordentlich spielbar, wenn auch trotz des optionalen Splitscreens für zwei Nina-Enten nicht gerade eine Offenbarung in Sachen Gameplay.

Bei dieser Schillerscheibe ärgert man sich hingegen über diverse Zwischen-, Vor- und Abspänne, die nicht nur Häßlich sind, sondern mangels Abbruchmöglichkeit auch für schier endlose Wartezeiten sorgen.

Die anschließende Freude über eine variable Steuerung, die mit Stick und Pad gut klarkommt, währt ebenfalls nicht lange, denn wo einst ein simpler erster Level den lockeren Einstieg gewährleistete, ist neuerdings eine frustrierend schwere Speedsequenz zu meistern.

Danach pendelt sich der Scwhierigkeitsgrad zwar auf mittlerem Niveau ein, unfaire Attacken der knuddeligen Schnecken oder Stachelfische sind dennoch nicht selten. Niedermähen läßt sich das Gesocks per Langschwert und teils auch mittels Kopfsprung, weitere Erleichterung verschaffen Sammelboni wie Schutzschilde oder Extraleben. Ansonsten sind im überwiegend einfallslosen Spielablauf (Diamanten sammeln...) bloß noch das Zeitlimit und die versteckten Bonusräume erwähnenswert.

Immerhin klappt das Parallax-Scrolling soft und sauber, im Vergleich zur ursprünglichen A1200-Version kann die CD mit mehr Animationen aufwarten, und recht bunt ging es in den Techno-, Höhlen- und Unterwasser-Szenarien ja schon immer zu.

Dafür paßt die neue Musikbegleitung meist nicht zum Geschehen, was zusammen mit den erwähnten Mängeln im Gamedesign zwangsläufig zur Abwertung führen müßte. (rl)



Donk! The Samurai Duck CD32 logo CD32

Supervision £29.99

Yes! This is more like it - another game that's actually been significantly improved before being ported over to the CD format (original version 76%, AP31).

The Hidden's Donk hasn't been drastically overhauled, but it's been seriously smartened up, with a much slicker front end, animated parallaxing backdrops, new CD sound and a general all-over respray.

The game's actually structured a lot like Super Mario World on the SNES, although in play it's more of the traditional Trolls-style platform antics, but what's very clear is that with 112 levels (and not easy ones at that) you're going to get a lot of play out of it. (There's a save facility, though, so you won't have to get all of it in one go.)

The other thing worth mentioning is the clever disguising of the (quite lengthy) disk-accessing pauses and bonus countdowns and animations - no 'Loading... Please Wait' for Donk, thank God - which is exactly the kind of of thing we love to see here at atmosphere-conscious AMIGA POWER, so an extra five percent for intelligent programming. Hurrah.



Donk! The Samurai Duck CD32 logo CD32

SUPERVISION, £29.99 OUT NOW

We have seen it all now. Mutant Turtles, Biker Road Rats, Superhuman Thunder Cats, but Samurai Ducks? Come on! Well, surprising as it may seem, that is just what Supervision's new hero is, a fair-feathered fowl with a taste for the orient. After a good stint on the Amiga, and then on the consoles, it was only a question of time before the yellow feathered one got the taste for some CD action.

Donk was snatched from the jaws of death by a kind hearted Samurai, who was just about to drop him in his stew. Rather than tuck into the plump-breasted bird the kindly sage decided to teach him the mystical ways of the Warrior and impart to him all the secrets of the ancient orient.

Donk is now courageous, strong, cunning and possesses a great line in magic, which allows him to transform into a plastic duck, of the bath toy variety, and float. In this version Donk is on his final quest to become a complete warrior and has to rescue the magical gems that protect Earth's atmosphere.

When all the hurly burly has been seen and the mystical smoke clears, Donk is basically just another platform game, albeit with a slightly oriental crispy fried duck aroma to it. He is not the greatest character to grace the video game world, being rather unresponsive and having an annoying habit of falling off any platform you try and position him on when jumping. In his quest he meets all the usual assortment of wrong doers and beasts, but you never really get your interest up to stay with him very long.

Some of the screens are pretty to look at and all the music has been reworked and added to completely new samples, so there has been a slight effort made for the CD32 version. Animated sequences also link the levels, but they are nothing special and you would not miss them if they were not there at all.

There are 112 uninspiring levels to negotiate and, if you can stick with the programme long enough, you will be able to collect the magical properties necessary for Donk to perform. The shelled one can protect himself with an egg shield and blasting bombs and a simultaneous two player mode is also included with a very restricted viewpoint of the level and reduced sized sprites. This can prove to be a laugh, but at the expense of frustration.

So, yet another flop for the humble CD thirsty machine. A huge stack of great games can only be just around the corner now. Lets hope we can all hang on a bit longer, eh?