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Developer: Retro Dreamer
Price: Free to Play
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Playtime: Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Retro Dreamer know how to make games with great names that also fit their theme perfectly:  Sneezies, Velocispider, Happy Poo (and its clean followup, Wash the Dishes), and now Duckers. Players control a duck, appropriately named Duckers, who gets the ability to burrow through the ground at high speeds. With this ability, he’s going treasure hunting! Players swipe downward to guide Duckers to treasure, collecting coins, gems, and other items, while avoiding spikes, traps, and spiked turtles that if hit, will cause Duckers to hurt his cute little head and end this little expedition. Digging is broken up by sections where Duckers is falling through the earth, tilting left and right to collect coins and gems, while avoiding the spike blocks that get in the way.

Duckers goes at an interesting pace. See, there’s nothing really propelling the action along, so players can plot out their moves. Quick actions usually lead to an even quicker death. Plotting out moves carefully, knowing where one safe point is before travelling to the next usually means high scores are imminent. It’s kind of like Super Crate Box in a way; failure feels like it’s my fault rather than anything else, and the difficulty doesn’t really ramp up to a significant degree. This pace makes the game very accessible to casual players because there’s no stress to make a move (it’s almost a turn-based endless game), but it’s still challenging for experienced gamers.

That the controls are practically perfect helps out a lot. A simple swipe in a direction will launch Duckers that way, and a slower gesture, holding it down, will allow for precise targeting. There are special randomly-generated collectibles that grant extra points and go into an item collection. The great part about these? Some of them are clever references to other games, including other Retro Dreamer games, and even a popular iOS title or too. I’m still hoping to dig up a Velocispider skeleton. While some upgrades are available to increase powerup strength, along with head starts and extra lives, most of the upgrades are cosmetic. This includes extra characters, which includes the best character ever, Duckers’ mother. Her name? Mother Duckers.

The game does feel like because of the deliberate pace that it favors the game as far as margin of error goes; being very careful when trying to time diving past moving obstacles is a challenge. My best sessions have usually come to an end when a spiked turtle grazed the top of Duckers’ head. Some objectives to shoot for while playing would be a great addition as well.

Duckers is unique fun, even in the crowded endless genre on iOS. It’s cute fun for all ages, and despite the clever naming and presence of Mother Duckers, it’s worth playing beyond that novelty.

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