Goin' Quackers is an attractive game that makes worthwhile use of Disney's most irritable fowl, Donald Duck. In this platform adventure, Donald must race around the world, setting up pieces of the inventor Gyro Gearloose's teleportation machine, to save his girl, Daisy, from the evil wizard Merlock's clutches. You'll travel to 22 different stages, across four different levels each dominated by a theme: Duckie Mountain, Duckberg, Magica De Spell's Haunted Mansion, and the evil Merlock's Ancient Temple.
To reach each level's boss character, you must find each quarter of the warp pad that unlocks its stage. You race through these areas collecting gears. Collecting 100 of them nets you an extra life. Picking up five of these in a second also grants you one letter of the word "special." Beating a stage with the word "special" unlocked teaches you one of Donald's special moves. The special moves add an actual challenging element to your scoring strategies. To accomplish special moves, you need to bounce off of three enemies without hitting the ground, quickly tap R1, and then input a button combination, within three seconds. Pull it off, and you're rewarded with a visual treat: Donald does a few tricks, possibly changes appearance, and flexes his tail. In addition, you can also hunt for the golden thread that powers up Gyro's costume-changing machine. The character model swaps are nice, but most Donald purists will prefer his trusty blue sailor suit.
Graphically, Goin' Quackers is highly impressive. The CG sequences are great, and all the character animations are fluid and seamless. The level design in the PS2 version is much more interesting than the somewhat lackluster platforms of the other ports - owing much to the increased 3D effects and performance. However, some of the obstacles you may encounter (particularly those annoying briar plants) are just not as ominous or scary looking. Donald's special moves are a definite treat, and the score multipliers they provide are more than enough incentive to pull them off as frequently as possible.
A big improvement over the other consoles' largely text-only menus and conversations, the PS2 version of Goin' Quackers features wonderful voice-actor interpretations of all the characters, including an impressive array of taunts and quips for Donald to unleash at the tap of a button. The background music is lighthearted and upbeat at times and suitably moody at others. While the score is by no means remarkable, it suits the game well and always picks up the pace during opportune moments. The sound effects are appropriate - best when Donald gets miffed and starts a tirade or feels especially pumped up after knocking down a milkshake.
The game uses very simple controls, with a double jump, a series of punches, and a leaping Tae-Kwon-Duck kick being just about it. In the end, you'll most often defeat enemies by simply jumping on their heads. Despite the simplicity of control, the game is still flawed in a few areas. Hit collision is sometimes off, and the flashing tirade effect of Donald being injured makes discerning enemy locations a bit of a chore.
Donald Duck's Goin' Quackers borrows many elements from well-known titles such as Crash Bandicoot, employing a comparable level design, albeit with far less complexity. Some stages feature segments that will have some crying plagiarism because they are reminiscent of other titles, but as they are generally the more enjoyable segments, this can be excused. The levels are never especially challenging, the most difficult aspect of negotiating them being a somewhat fickle camera angle during inopportune moments. However, once you've gotten used to the lack of camera-angle compensation for depth and height, the game becomes very easy and beatable within a single night. To make up for this, the boss enemies are a bit tricky and fun to defeat, requiring a good sense of double-jump timing to trounce with ease.
While the game was designed to be on the easy side, obviously to make it viable for young children, Gladstone Gander, Donald's cousin and the world's luckiest duck, introduces a time-trial mode that adds a certain degree of difficulty and replayability to the short, straightforward adventure. Defeating each of the time-trial challenges in a level nets you a considerable reward, along with more percentage points toward 100 percent completion. Some of the times are very fast, and you'll have to be in "the zone" to complete them.
Children will enjoy the lively adventures of Donald Duck, and some of those who enjoyed the DuckTales animated series and are looking for a comical Disney romp will want to pick this up. Those who want a deeper, more satisfying platform adventure should probably stay away or save this for a weekend rental.