Overall Score 75%
Almost 20 years after Qwak egged its first unsuspecting monster, I find myself jumping, jetbooting and thinking through arcade levels filled with keys, levers, fruits and things that go bump in the night.
You play Qwak, a lovable duck with armor and a strong throwing wing. Your mission is to try and find your way to the next level, collecting items, killing monsters, and solving levels by activating levers and picking up keys. For those who don't like to wing it solo, Qwak features a 2 player mode, and as a bonus highscores are posted online.
The game is quick to load, and plays without error. It comes with a neat and very easy to understand tutorial and you get all the lessons required to understand all the features and gameplay elements. For those keeping score there is a comprehensive highscore system that includes records for the day, week and month. The arcade gameplay is very straight forward: jump around, use eggs as ammo and collect powerups. Making use of the keyboard, you can press left, right, up for jump and (Left CTRL) for fire. The assigned keys can be customized for both players, using the ingame options.
You need to collect all the golden keys to open the door to the next stage. If you collect 10 flowers you get 1 extra life, and all the fruit you collect gets converted into eggs (for throwing: "You can run out of eggs for throwing."). Powerups like jetboots allow you to fly around while collecting most of the goodies on screen without thinking too much. Armor upgrades in 3 stages and protects you from harm. Umbrellas shower you with goodies associated with their color and there are bonuses for collecting more than 6 gems. With an array of powerups that include invulnerability, extra jump, invisibility and freeze, the game stays interesting.
With six themes and levels of difficulty the game remains challenging, although the levels can appear repetitive after a while if all you want to do is collect the massive fruit and many goodies that swamp most levels. For those who would compare this game to the classic (Bubble Bobble) and want things easy, it might be a little frustrating, as not all goodies can be collected unless you figure out the levels. If you take too long on any level, there is a cascade of huge lethal boulder mines that try and hurry you. Although this can be rather pointless in early levels, in more challenging levels the cascade feature works in the games favor as it gives you a sense of urgency that adds excitement. With Qwak you have to actually think about where you need to go. The levels are not large and therefore dying often does not drown the fun factor.
The music in Qwak is upbeat and enthusiastic, making it hard to get tired of. The sound effects are nothing special and goes well with the gameplay. The sound and effects volume can be adjusted ingame. The simple yet colorful graphics work with Qwak. The game runs in 640x480 full-screen and the graphics are smooth and neat with nice dark outlines to define items. It can be rather hard to find your player on-screen when first starting a busy stage, and I found myself moving just to see where I'm at.
The game's website is informative to the point, up to date, and has live forums. Although Qwak can appear dated, it IS arcade and classic, plays without error and features online highscores and free support. There is only so much you can expect from a game that has been in circulation for 20 years, and with updated graphics and sound, Qwak is a decent arcade platformer that keeps you entertained and challenged and definitely worth another play.
Keywords: qwak review, jamie woodhouse reviews, jamie woodhouse games, qwak scores, pc game reviews, indie game reviews, independent gaming.