Daffy Duck may never be my favorite Looney Tunes character, that honor goes to Taz. However, the Duck Dodgers episodes are ranked highly among my favorites in the series. Daffy’s slapstick lovable loser personality just works so perfectly beside Marvin’s calculating monotone. So when I saw Daffy Duck: The Marvin Missions on the shelf, I just had to have it. Getting to play as Duck Dodgers saving the earth from Marvin Martian, how could that go wrong?
Released in 1993 by Sunsoft, Daffy Duck: The Marvin Missions is an action platformer for the SNES. You play as Duck Dodgers following Marvin Martian to various planets to stop his evil plans. You’ll be equipped with your trusty blaster as well as a few other weapons you’ll find along the way, like the freeze gun and the antimatter gun. You’ll need all the ammo you can get, because Marvin has a whole supply of instant Martians at his disposal. So, is the game any good? Well…
Marvin is causing trouble on the resort planet Magma, and it’s up to Duck Dodgers to stop him. Before you head out, you’re allowed to buy upgrades at the store. There’s ammo for the various different guns, fuel for your jet pack, even extra lives and continues. While in game stores aren’t a new thing, it’s kind of disconcerting to see one before you even start playing. It’s basically advertising “your standard gun is useless, buy a real gun while you can”
When you start playing, you’ll notice two things. First, the graphics are top notch. Daffy’s sprite is very detailed for his size, and the environments feel very alive. The second thing you’ll notice is that Daffy is near impossible to control. He feels like he’s on ice at all times. And to make matters worse, every time you shoot there is a very noticeable kickback that will have daffy sliding backwards on his ass after a few shots.
The enemies also have fairly high health and give little to no reaction when you damage them, causing you to questing if you’re damaging them at all. The instant Martians for example, one of the most common enemies in the game, takes 6 shots to kill, and has no damage animation. They don’t even flash or anything to show damage. The only hint you get is that the blaster ray disappears after it hits them.
The levels themselves are also very maze like, but not in a good way. If it weren’t for the frequent checkpoints showing me which direction I’m supposed to be going, I don’t think I would have ever made it through some of the levels.
Death Count: 8
The boss fights bring the lack of damage indication to a whole new level. Marvin has such an insane amount of health that I was convinced my game was broken. He also has the most subtle damage flash I have ever seen. The only redeeming quality of the boss battle was the fact that it was VERY patterned, allowing you to get the hits in once you got the pattern down. But that doesn’t excuse the 146 hits it took to kill him. Yes, I counted, that’s way too much health for the first boss of the game, especially with no health bar or real damage indicator of any kind.
Marvin escapes the previous attack and retreats to Aquarion-4 with an all new evil scheme. Oh goody, Daffy’s controls weren’t bad enough already. Let’s include water physics to the mix. The first stage at least isn’t that bad. It’s one of the few completely linear stages in the game. It has you running along the back of a giant sea serpent as Marvin drops instant Martians into the water to slow you down. Eventually you face the 2 heads of the sea serpent in what was a rare enjoyable mini boss battle for this game. One head breaths fire while the other only sprays water. Keep attacking the water breathing head for a nice victory.
One of these is a death trap, the other is a leap of faith. Can you guess which is which?
The rest of the planet however is exactly as I feared for a water level to be. While underwater, daffy feels even more floaty, as if that was even possible. The water levels also had my first introduction to the many bottomless pits that are to come. Just to be clear, bottomless pits are a common and acceptable obstacle in many early games, it’s the WAY they were done in this game that makes them annoying. As I mentioned before, the levels are very maze like, with many leaps of faith down into the unknown, so the bottomless pits don’t distinguish themselves from any other random ledge you’re expected to drop down. It’s only after they kill you that you see them for what they are.
Death Count: 15
The eventual boss battle with Marvin once again suffers from lack of any type of damage indicator. There are two targets, Marvin on the top, and a jar of instant Martians below him. To be perfectly honest, I have no idea if attacking the jar of instant Martians actually registers any damage, or if it just knocked out more enemies. I went with the assumption that it only made my life miserable, and did my best to only attack Marvin. I hope you stocked up on Antimatter ammo when you had the chance. Without them, this battle, and really all the following boss battles, will seem impossible.
Marvin’s defeat means we’re finally done with crappy water physics. This brings us to planet Zeus-3, an ice planet. OH COME ON!! Why would they do that? Have mercy. The controls can only get so terrible. Anyway, this time you have to rescue Dr I.Q High who has been kidnapped by Marvin.
As feared, the whole planet is covered in slippery ice and deadly environmental hazards. Daffy couldn’t possibly be any less controllable than he is on this planet. This is also the first time I actually noticed how annoying the limited rocket fuel really is. There were a few spots where the next ledge was just slightly out of reach for a normal jump. Thankfully the knockback on the gun also lets you jump slightly higher, allowing me to actually reach these platforms after I ran out of fuel.
Because Dr I.Q. High was kidnapped and forced to work for Marvin, the whole planet is full of robots and lasers. The most annoying of which is the robotic instant Martian that serves as a mini boss. He attacks fast and bounces around a lot making it hard to actually get any shots in. It’s even worse when you fight two of them at once later.
Death Count: 35
When you find Dr I.Q. High, he is strapped into some giant contraption shooting lasers at you. Maybe I’m just not that good of a gamer, but I couldn’t figure out where the safe spots where for his pattern. Instead I went with the tried and true method of “Ignore the damage and just shoot him in the face with your biggest gun until he dies”. Thankfully this worked and we are done with all the stupid ice.
Planet Amazonius finally frees us from annoying movement physics. Well, besides Daffy’s naturally horrible controls. Instead, the gimmick is that Daffy has been shrunk down to the size of an ant. This is actually my favorite planet of the whole game. The environment is much more enjoyable than the other levels, and it’s just generally more creative than the other planets. Plus it’s the only planet where you’re not fighting instant Martians, so the change in enemies is rather nice.
This planet also has a lot of mini bosses. First you’ll fight what I guess is the ant queen as she bounces around the map and summons her ant guards. Then shortly after, you’ll be facing off with the dragonfly. Get it? Because it’s a fly, but it looks like a dragon. HAHA! I’ll stop now.
Death Count: 52
The final boss of this planet brought the lack of damage indication to a whole new level. You can’t even see the boss this time, just a foot and the tip of the gun. I have no idea where my target is, I don’t even know what was causing damage. Hell, when I DID manage to beat him, I didn’t even know it. At one point while fighting him the laser blasts switched from a solid beam into kind of a wavy beam. I had no idea what this meant so I kept fighting. After a few minutes of no change, I gave up. I only head 1 hit left in my health, so I intentionally got shot so I could quit playing and look up a strategy guide. But when I got hit, I didn’t die. NO, that wavy beam was actually an enlarging ray that brought me back to normal size. You are SUPPOSED to let it hit you. HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW THAT?! I couldn’t even tell I was hitting him and they expect me to just KNOW to get hit by the enlarging ray. I would say that’s lazy, but they didn’t even bother to give I’m guessing Marvin two feet in this fight.
Back to our normal size, we finally make it to the planet Mars. Oh look, some cameos by other characters. Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, Sylvester, Wile E. Coyote, and um… Shrek? Shrek was a Looney Tunes character, right?
When you catch up to Marvin, prepare yourself for a mini boss fight seemingly pulled straight from the cartoons. Marvin, along with his Martian dog, will shoot a large gun at you, but the knockback will send them flying off screen while the giant bullet stays in place. I wish more of the game pulled from the cartoons like this, but sadly we’ll have to accept what little we get.
Death Count: 67
Finally there’s another appearance of a known Looney Tunes character. This time you’re fighting Gossamer, the giant red hair monster. It’s not a very exciting fight, he just runs at you, and you try to avoid him while shooting him. As happy as I am to see any kind of cameo, it feels like a case of too little too late at this point.
It’s time to finish this once and for all. Marvin has his giant ray gun set on earth, and you have to stop him. This is a really annoying battle even compared to all the other annoying battles. The area is rather large, and Marvin is a small fast target, so most of the battle was spend blindly shooting at where I thought he might be just off screen. Not that it would have mattered much, he still doesn’t give any signs that he’s taking any damage.
After his defeat it ends with one of those weird power struggle scenes where everyone walks off screen then back on with the power reversed. It works in the cartoons, but it just doesn’t seem to translate well to the game. Either way, be happy that the game is over and you never have to play it again.
Gameplay – 3 / 10
The controls are horrible, the default gun is useless, the levels are confusing, and it’s just all around not fun to play. I really can’t think of anything positive gameplay wise to say about it. The best I can say is that it’s not broken, but it’s just barely functional. This is a shame because it was so close to being good. Stabilize Daffy’s movement, get rid of the knock back on the guns, and maybe make the jetpack into a double jump instead of requiring fuel and that would have made this game so much more enjoyable. Then lower the enemies’ health into the reasonable range and just like that this would have been a fun game. But as it is, it’s hard to enjoy.
Graphics – 7 / 10
The graphics are mostly really good. The sprites are well detailed as are most of the backgrounds. My only major complaint with the graphics is the lack of visual confirmation of damage. Some enemies did have damage animations, but most didn’t. This was especially frustrating with the bosses.
Audio – 4 / 10
On one hand, Daffy’s sound effects are really nice, using sound bites that seem to come right from the show. On the other hand, everything else is terrible. The music was very forgettable and practically the same song for the whole game. All the other sound effects boiled down to basically two sounds, gun shots, and death screams. I would also like to note there was only 1 death scream shared by every enemy.
Story – 2 / 10
Each planet was introduced as if it was a mission given by the government, but it was filled with the worst kinds of puns, bad dad jokes and just the worst attempts at humor. Things like “HHHEEELLPPP!! (Bring back some cool T-shirts)” they’re so horrible it makes you not want to save them.
Total Playtime – 1 h 56 m
2 hours of playing, and several more hours of writing this review that I’ll never get back.
Total Deaths – 75 Deaths
Those bottomless pits
Oh how much do I hate thee
I wrote a haiku
Overall Score – 2 / 10
Avoid it. Forget it existed. There is no reason to ever play this game. It was horrible, I hated it, and the cartridge will never again come anywhere near my console. I’m actually really upset about this because I wanted so badly to like it. Like I said when I started, the duck dodger cartoons are some of my favorite. Sadly the game is one of the worst I’ve ever played.
I blame this game’s failure on you “The Fed-Ex Guy”
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