This is an example of taking a good subject and turning it into a naff game. Howard the Duck *isn't* a kiddies' character, but the game is definitely aimed at the under eights!
Howard first saw the light of day in an American Marvel comicbook in the late 70s. His creator, Steve Gerber, made Howard a cynical and witty commentator on the modern condition. And the comic rapidly picked up cult following in the States and over here. It was a sort of cartoon Spitting Image of its day.
Not really the stuff of computer games - not until George Lucas decided to make a movie based on the far-from-daffy-duck.
The cigar-smoking Duck around town has been turned into web-footed wimp. OK, so he does get to practise a bit of Quack-Fu on a few assorted gremlins - but this rapidly becomes as boring as a rainy day in Frinton.
The game comes in several parts - some more playable than others. And some just fillers to make you think that you're getting a *big* game.
You get to play these different parts depending on the skill level you decided to attempt. These range from novice to expert - but only on the advanced and expert levels do you get to have a crash at the Dark Overlord and complete the game.
The skill levels also determine the number of mutants which attack our feathered hero during his quest.
The game begins on an island. Howard parachutes in and must discover the all-purpose backpack. Without it, he won't get anywhere as it contains the equipment he needs to progress through the game.
First Howard needs his solar-powered jet-pack to negotiate the many channels of the island. He has to fly over the rock-filled rapids. There's trouble on the ground as well in the shape of the Dark Overlord's mutant minions.
He has to practise a bit of Quack-Fu on these little beasts and stamp on the mounds they appear from to keep them off his tail.
The island is a rambling maze of jungle pathways. The undergrowth appears to be inhabited too - lots of evil-looking eyes gaze out of the bushes. There are also patches of slime to jump over - and there's a time limit as well. Fail, and you get singed as the Dark Overlord's volcano erupts.
If you manage the island section within the time allowed you have to cross a bridge without getting hit by rocks rolled at you by a mutant. KO this final mutant and you're off on a flight on a micro-lite.
You have to help Howard reach the top of the volcano so he can get on with the next part of his adventure. Which is...? A horizontally scrolling duck and dodge effort.
Get through this part unscathed and you get to have a crack at the Dark Overlord with your handy Neutron Disintegrator. Zap him three times and he'll disappear. Then rush for the volcano switch and shut the thing down.
Howard is an uninspiring offering Activision which doesn't do the character justice. An Infocom adventure with Howard as the star would be a different subject...
The game looks pretty, but the different sections take ages to load and the island sequence gets horribly tedious after the first few attempts. And you always have to start off from this part even on the higher skill levels. Boring! No tunes either.
A game for younger gamesters is the most polite way to describe this offering. If you are an addict or even a Howard fan - don't bother with the first turkey of the New Year.