What can you say about Team 17? Well from such small beginnings, the lads and lasses from Wakefield have risen to become one of our leading games publishers. You only have to look at their back catalogue to realise how important they've become to the Amiga market. Alien Breed, Project X, Assassin, Body Blows, and F17 Challenge could all quite happily go on my list of desert island disks.
Each contained state-of-the-
You know as soon as you load it up that you're getting a high quality product. If only other bigger software houses could take note of what Team 17 are actually achieving then the Amiga games market might be a safer and better place.
Just recently, Team 17 have moved into the budget market with immense success. The recent re-releases of Alien Breed and Project X have shot up to the top of the budget charts and have hardly moved for ten months. Both games have not strictly been re-releases, but instead have been enhanced and improved.
Team 17's next move was to release an original game at a budget price of £12.99. F17 Challenge was by no means a sub-standard product simply because it was cheap, in fact, it received a much coveted Gamer Gold.
The Teamies sow how well F17 did and decided to release another original at a budget price. So now we have for your deliberation and entertainment Qwak, and it is a major departure for Martyn Brown and his boys.
Just as in Superfrog, Team 17 have taken the idea of a "classic style" arcade platform game and enhanced it for the '90s. Qwak takes its inspiration from Bubble Bobble, Rainbow Islands and other games such games of that ilk.
As you might have judged from the title, the game features ducks. The idea is very simple, all you have to do is to take your duck through eight magical worlds and 80 wonderful levels. You can grab bonuses galore as you race to snatch the keys that open the enchanted doors which are the gates to the next level.
I'm afraid there is no story to Qwak, simply because the game's creators have felt that a game this good rarely needs one and would rather let the gameplay speak for itself. Which is fair enough I suppose!
Grabbing keys and bonuses sounds a fairly easy game to play, but fear not because Qwak is quite possibly one of the most fiendish games I have ever had the pleasure of grappling with. There are a number of weird creatures out to thwart your progress, as well as all manner of trick and traps and a series of ever more perplexing puzzles. Over recent months the two-player game has taken a bit of a back seat, but Qwak has re-introduced the much loved feature. This, ahem, duck-'e-up is good, but is ten times better with a chum.
To stop Qwak getting too similar and boring, the game's creators have introduced special challenge scenes. On these screens the object is to complete the level and collect as much as possible before the time runs out. Ducks who are too slow will have to contend with raining spikes, so don't hang around because death is only a second away!
At the end of each world, you'll face a guardian screen which has larger, tougher nasties and big bonuses. You can complete it as usual by collecting all the keys and opening the door, but some keys won't appear unless special baddies have been disposed of.
I met Team 17 supremo Martyn Brown recently and he told me that he thought Qwak was one of the best and most playable games they had ever done. Not unusual you might hear from someone form their own company plugging their game, but never before have Team 17 said anything about their games - they'd much rather we found out how good they are playing them ourselves.
So when Martyn said it was good I was a little wary, but as per usual Team 17 astounded, producing a little gem of a budget game. Qwak might not amaze you on your first go, but on your second play you'll be totally engrossed as that dangerous addictive factor kicks in. Indeed this is perhaps one of the most addictive games I have played in my life, over the last few weeks I've played nothing else!
It is very similar to Bubble Bobble and you could almost accuse Team 17 for ripping it off, but then again most good game ideas come from other influences. It may rip Bubble Bobble off, but it's done to perfection.
Graphics are cutesy and keep in true tradition to this type of game. The sound is brilliant with a happy go-lucky tune that literally bounces along while you're playing. The playability is spot on with an easy control method and an excellently graded level of difficulty.
Qwak is, most of all, a fun game, and one that you can pick up time after time and play at any stage of the day. It doesn't stress you out and it doesn't require an immense amount of thinking. If you miss out on it then I pity you because it's truly great!