App Reviewed on: iPhone 4
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Feed The Duck is a frustrating game. It's not that it isn't fun, because it is. In fact, at times it's very fun. It's frustrating because it could be so much more fun; the potential in the concept is as clear as day. Sadly, the concept is let down by the execution.
Those very fun times I talked about? They come pretty early on in the 45-level long campaign when the game is low on variables that detract from the base mechanic, namely dragging down on the touch screen to spring your hungry duck up into the air so that he then dives into the water below and hopefully eats some nummy fishes along his way back up to the surface. It's all about timing and aiming the leap so that the duck's trajectory down and up through the water meets with that of the poor, poor fishies, and working out how to make that happen within the game's unusual water physics is an enjoyable challenge.
I say 'poor fishies' because there's no time or turn limit to getting that duck fed. Unfortunately, there are obstacles like the teethy fish that swim around with their electric attenae; one touch from them and that poor duck is toast. It's not just unfortunate because they get in the way, but because they represent where Feed The Duck loses its own way. It's not so much the enemy fish themselves but the other obstacles - things like water jets, bits of metal, and very annoying fragile boxes full of baubles. When these variables become more frequent, the physics - particularly the sensitivity of aiming the duck's leap - become far too precious and rough. The level design is often clumsy and constricting, such as the placing of boxes in positions that will be inevitably hit. The boxes split open and release baubles that get in the way and make it almost impossible to line up that next shot because the duck can't dive deep enough. Also, when the duck gets stuck on one side of the screen, trying to aim him back the other way is a real struggle.
Still, when the level design isn't constricting and there aren't too many variables, Feed the Duck is definitely a lot of fun. Each level gives you a grade of three stars, and usually getting all three involves the least number of moves to eat up all the fish. Trying to pull off that perfect three-star fish-grab is what the game should be all about, and often it is. It's a shame that the game tries too hard to play to precious physics, and often those precious physics put off wanting to get all three stars. But the game isn't too long, so even though it frustrates it's still enjoyable enough to recommend.