Duckers iPad Review

It's tough to not fall in love with Duckers. Developer Retro Dreamer put Velocispider on the shelf (we hope temporarily) in exchange for cute and cuddly critters in search of buried treasure. Not only that, but one of the stages lets them dig through endless layers of cake. Now if that doesn't satisfy your virtual sweet tooth, nothing will.

The game takes an obvious page from Namco Bandai's Mr. Driller, in the sense that one of the primary goals is to see how far you can dig, except there's no threat of the ground collapsing on Duckers, who is very much a duck, by the way. Instead, you'll want to avoid spikes, electricity and these non-threatening rocks adorned with skulls by dragging a finger downwards or diagonally across the iPhone and iPad screen, whereupon which Duckers will dig in that direction. On top of that, you'll encounter brief falling segments where you must tilt your "i" device left and right to safely guide Duckers past obstacles.

Meanwhile, you should collect as many gold coins as possible, since you can purchase a variety of items at the in-game shop (more on that in a bit), and also collect whatever treasure you come across, be it gems, rings and other goodies. That's because the game comes with a checklist of booty, and it's fun scratching objects off said list.

As for spending coins, the developers populated the game with a small assortment of equally adorable characters, like Neville the Turtle, Ms. Duckers, Alan the Panda, Nigel the Cat and Mother Duckers. On top of that, new levels let you plow through ice, take a dive through that delicious-looking cake and explore a volcano. You'll even see power-ups that make navigating these subterranean environments easier. Chief among them, a football helmet that absorbs damage and a fireball that allows Duckers and Co. to dive longer and further, but here's the thing: it takes a long (and by long, we mean obnoxiously long) time to acquire enough coins to buy these things. Nigel the Cat, for example, costs 3,000 coins, making him far out of reach when an average run may only net 30-60.

Of course, Retro Dreamer is right there with in-app purchases, with 1,000 coins costing $0.99 and the max, 60,000, at $29.99. There's just an unfair balance between earning coins naturally versus splurging via IAP, but on the flip side, Duckers is free to play, and you don't need to spend a dime to enjoy it.

That said, the only thing that bugs us is the fact that you can't determine how far Duckers and friends dig. They always travel a certain distance, and this often proves problematic when trying to avoid those dangerous objects.

Other than that, Duckers remains enjoyable and stands out for being the type of experience that'll keep you glued to the screen for several minutes or upwards of an hour. We'll stop short of calling it mindless, since there's a bit of strategy involved when it comes to treasure-hunting and avoiding stuff. In all, another quality effort from the folks at Retro Dreamer.

Download Duckers (iOS)

What's Hot: Mr. Driller style gameplay, checking treasure off the list, a small handful of cute animal friends, delightful graphics, free to play.

What's Not: Heavy reliance on in-app purchases to buy the cool stuff, you can't control how far characters dig.

4/5