Qwak logo Gamer Gold

Team 17 return with something a little different. Jonathan Maddock goes to feed the ducks.

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-art graphics and sound and most importantly displayed a wealth of playability. The sheer class of these products have yet to be rivalled in my opinion. It might sound like I'm indulging in a bit of butt-kissing, but when you have to play and review as many games as I do it's always nice to see a piece of software from Team 17.
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.

BUDGET
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.

LITTLE GEM
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!


Duck Pick- 'em-ups
Qwak Gems Qwak Fruit
Qwak Levitate Qwak Spike Qwak Key
Qwak Armour Qwak Pendant 10 Qwak Lockpick
Qwak Double Damage Qwak Eggs Qwak Gate
Qwak Invulnerability Qwak Bulb Qwak Skull
Qwak Super eggs Qwak Oil Qwak Flower
Qwak Chocolate eggs Qwak Glue Qwak Mushroom

Qwak logo

What's fluffy, green and bears a startling resemblance to Orville? No, it's not a rotating Troll, but a cute little duck by the name of Qwak from Team 17.
To hell with the plot, there isn't one. Suffice to say, you have to guide Qwak - and his purple companion in two-player mode - through eight worlds and 80 levels of baddies, bonuses and rewards while having as much fun as you can. Easy, eh? Oh, and then there are the end-of-level guardians and challenge levels to get through as well.

Being a resourceful little duck Qwak has a special weapon - eggs. One well-placed Grade One Free Range will usually send a baddie pirouetting to disaster, but there are plenty of larger baddies who're incapable of taking such a subtle hint, for the first few hits anyway.

You also have to watch out for showers of spiked mines and fruit if you're not to get turned into a roast turkey yourself. And it does happen, take our word for it.

The game's two player mode finds both ducks on screen simultaneously. And you have the choice to either compete or co-operate for the bonus objects and baddies.

This is a surprisingly simple, but refreshing, platform game which takes the whole genre right back to basics and makes itself as playable as possible. Leaping around from platform to platform is a doddle, the control is responsive and the sprite scrolling fast and smooth. The game is simple enough for even the youngest Amiga user to get to grips with, there's even a bonus for finishing a level without to using your egg weapon. But there are enough slicky moments to keep even accomplished games players constantly on guard.

Graphically the game's pretty unexceptional - no OTT parallax scrolling and snazzy effects here, just the usual cutesy animation and unobtrusive backgrounds you expect to find in a platform game. The pick ups are of the same juicy edible variety that has become the standard for these type of platform games.

Soundwise, the effects seem to consist entirely of beeps and burps, but the music is pretty catchy in a obnoxious boppy sort of way.

Qwak's hardly the most original platformer you've ever seen and it certainly isn't a lot to look at. In fact it resembles that aged classic Bubble Bobble in bot graphical style and gameplay. But it beats the pants off most its ludicrously overpriced competition. If Team 17 can keep coming up with gems like this, the major softies are going to have to look to their laurels.



Qwak logo

Der erste Versuch von Team 17, am Budgetmarkt Fuß zu fassen, ging gründlich in die Hose - "F17 Challenge" war ein eher bescheidenes Autorennen. Um so unbescheidener ist diese preiswerte Plattformente!

Immerhin verkündet die Werbung selbstbewußt, daß es sich hier um "vielleicht das spielbarste Amiga-Game aller Zeiten" handle. Zieht man jetzt den handelsüblichen Übertreibungs-Faktor ab, kommt die Aussage der Wahrheit sogar recht nahe: Dieses witzige Jump & Run steht ganz in der Tradition von Spielen wie "Bubble Bobble", "New Zealand Story" oder "Rainbow Islands" und verzichtet konsequent auf jede Art von Hintergrundstory - Qwak ist einfach die Plattform-Odyssee von ein oder zwei (simultan) hüpfenden Enten durch acht Welten insgesamt 80 Levels.

Die einzelnen Abschnitte umfassen jeweils einen Screen, auf dem es nur so wimmelt von Feinden, plötzlich verschwindenden Plattformen, Teleportern, Schaltern und Schätzen aller Art. Die Gegner bewirft man mit wild umherhüpfenden Eiern, deren Vorrat zwar begrenzt, aber wieder auffüllbar ist. Dazu gibt's spezielle Super- und Schokoladeneier mit mehr Durchschlagskraft sowie zahllose Extras zum Aufsammeln - Dietriche für eingesperrte Schätze, schützende Rüstungen, Propellor zum Fliegen, den Schlüssel für den Levelausgang, Continues oder entenbeschleunigende Zaubertränke.

Außerdem wären da noch das Zeitlimit, die netten Bonusrunden, die alle zehn Levels auftauchenden Schlußmonster sowie allerlei eingestreute Gags und Mini-Rätsel zu erwähnen. Ziemlich ungewöhnlich, aber bestimmt nicht verkehrt ist auch der eingebaute "Pazifisten-Bonus": Wer einen Level schafft, ohne dabei einen einzigen Gegner zu töten, bekommt eine Punkte-prämie!

Okay, so manches Feature wurde einfach geklaut (den verfolgungswütigen Geist etwa kennt man bereits aus "Bubble Bobble"), aber insgesamt ist das Gamedesign durchaus eigenständig und vor allem sehr durchdacht - z.B. findet man oft erst nach mehreren Durchgängen heraus, wie man an bestimmten Stellen am besten durchkommt, ohne sich den Zugang zu de Schätzen zu verbauen.

Zur Ehrenrettung der doch recht simpel gestrickten Grafik sei gesagt, daß man bei soviel Action für ihre Übersichtlichkeit sehr dankbar ist und die niedlichen Animationen ja durchaus gelungen sind. Musikalisch und in Sachen FX wird man ordentlich bedient, die Sticksteuerung gehört sogar eindeutig der Spitzenklasse an.

Ärgerlich ist nur, daß rein gar nichts gespeichert wird, weder Highscores noch Spielstände lassen sich der Nachwelt überliefern.

Somit dürfte klargeworden sein, daß Team 17 hier wirklich ein erstaunlich Spielbares Game zu einem wirklich erstaunlichen Preis auf den Markt wirft. Und den nächsten Hammer haben die Jungs auch schon in der Mache: Von ihrer Ballerorgie "Assassin" wird bald ein gründlich überarbeiteter Remix erscheinen, der wesentlich mehr Action bietet als die Original-version, aber nur noch soviel kostet wie die Plattformenten! (mm)



Qwak logo

Now here's a funny thing - a brand-new budget release from Team 17, almost unheralded, technically simplistic, no scrolling of any kind, and touted as the new Bubble Bobble. Caught me out, anyway.

Qwak is a platform collect-'em-up, very much in the style of the aforementioned Taito coin-op classic. You're a little duck (or if you've got a friend, two little ducks) (House! - Ed), and you flap around dozens of single-screen, er, screens collecting keys and fruit, as is usually the way with this sort of thing. It's unnervingly frantic, with lots and lots of little sprites zinging about all over the place in an initially confusing manner, but once you've been playing for a few minutes things begin to settle down a bit perception-wise and you can work out what's going on.

Assuming that there only the one of you, that is - with two players on at once, it's all a frenzied blur of activity as you race each other to grab all the goodies.

Not only that, though, but the two-player mode also features elements of the veteran coin-op Joust, in that you get different kinds of screens - ones in which you have to co-operate with the other player, ones in which you can shoot each other and have to battle for power-ups and so on. (Well, when I say 'and so on', what I actually mean is 'and that's it', but it sounds better the first way.)

Qwak is, as billed, less than astounding from a technical point of view. The grpahics, to be honest, aren't much above PD standard, and for a cutesy arcade game the colours are horribly wishy-washy. Sound is good, though, with endearingly annoying tunes and intelligent use of jingles when 'special' things happen, and disk accessing, joyfully, is almost completely absent - you can zip through this game just as fast as you like, with no tedious hanging about looking at 'Loading... Please Wait' messages or watching bonus counts between screens. It's user-friendly to the nth degree, and it's about time something was.

It's full of nice touches, too, like the way the expiry of your time limit doesn't result in instant death, but instead in a rain of spiky cogs which still give you a chance of getting to the exit, or the hidden bonuses like the 'Peacefully done' 10,000 points you get if you complete a screen without shooting any of the baddies.

Also, the stages within each of the eight levels come in random order (and sometimes get flipped around horizontally), so you don't have to get bored looking at exactly all the same screens if you get stuck on one particular stage all the time.

There are so many little things like this scattered in Qwak, in fact, that it could almost have been written by the same people who brought you Bubble Bobble, Rainbow Islands and Parasol Stars, and that's just about the highest recommendation I can think of. (I'm sorry, I'll try to think of a higher one next month, okay?)



Qwak logo CU Amiga Screen Star

TEAM 17 OUT NOW £25.99

Team 17 step forward, once again, to show that budget price doesn't have to mean budget quality. Qwak is quite simply one of the most fun games I've seen in quite a while.

Remember how much fun you had playing Bubble Bobble? Well, Qwak is a lot like that dinosaurus bubble-em-up. It is a two-player game where you have to bounce around a single screen knocking out the bad guys with large round objects while collecting enough keys to open the exit to the next level.

There are eighty levels for you and a friend (if you have one handy) to smash your way through. Levels range from castles to snowy wastelands. Why two little ducks are wandering around castles and wastelands, the manual doesn't say, but there you are, throwing eggs with all your might at floating fish, phantoms and spiked balls.

At the start of each level, you will be given a clue as to what to expect. For example, if a clause pops up saying, 'I wish I'd brought my brolly', means that the next level will have a lot of things falling from the top of the screen.

Visually, the game is little more than an explosion of colour. Detailed and bright sprites race around clearly-defined levels, and there is no such thing as subtlety where the palette is concerned. The Amiga can display over 4000 colours and Qwak sure uses some of the brightest!

Playing the game is a real throwback to the days when all that mattered in a game was the way it played. Forget big graphics. Forget stereo digital soundtracks. All you need is fast and frantic action, responsive controls and challenging levels. Qwak has all three, which is why I have to keep walking away from my desk to play it every five minutes (We noticed. Ed.). Ahem, well, basically, it is an excellent little game, and one that is definitely worth the asking price.