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CONSOLE: PlayStation 3 DEVELOPER: SCEA / Sumo Digital PUBLISHER: SCEA
RELEASE DATE (NA): May 2, 2007 GENRE: Action/Puzzle
// review by SoyBomb

Adding something to the list of things you shouldn't do with a rubber duck...

For whatever crazy reason, the designers and technological gurus at Sony decided one day that the new PlayStation 3 controller should have tilting functionality. We're still not entirely sure why. Perhaps it was placed there to compete with a certain unmentionable rival's upcoming innovative console? In any case, we (the owners of the hefty PlayStation 3 console) now have the interesting SIXAXIS control system at our fingertips. But in order for such a feature to be of any use other than for novelty purposes and for boasting in conversations with folks who are still nursing their PlayStation 2s, its functionality must be implemented into a video game. And what better way to show off your mad tilting skillz than in a game starring... a rubber duck?!

Yes, that's right, you heard (or read) me correctly -- you are playing the role of a rubber duck. Forget everything you know about super-quick hedgehogs, Italian plumbers, and unshaven men of espionage. There's a new sheriff in town! Your mission, should you choose to subject yourself to it, is to take control of your big rubber duck and move around a series of boards that bear a strange similarity to those old Labyrinth games with the holes and the metal balls. (You have no idea, do you?) You must collect all the stray miniature mallards (who will follow behind you) and drop them in the drain located somewhere on the board. In order to move your duck, you must tilt the board via the SIXAXIS controller so that your duck runs into the miniatures and then slides over to the drain. It sounds simple enough, and it is, but there are numerous obstacles that may heed your desires, including nasty sharks and the often unfortunately unbordered outer edges of the board which are easily toppled over.

However, the most ominous obstacle to be found is the pesky control sensitivity. Control should be at the heart of this game, but ultimately, they fail to showcase anything positive about the tilt function. Simply put, you won't be able to tilt to the best of your abilities due to lousy responsivity. Although the controls can be adjusted, you will often find yourself tilting either too much or too little, resulting in cheap deaths and the spouting of expletives towards your empty-headed duck buddy. Keep in mind that you can only tilt the board, NOT the duck, in the four cardinal directions, and it is your job to guide the duck by carefully slanting the board. You can also flick your controller vigorously to give the board a quick jolt to deliver for on-screen characters the equivalence of jumping. But the control can be downright jerky far too frequently, thus decreasing your accuracy. Theoretically, the SIXAXIS should be capable of handling a game like this, but without some heavy tweaking, tilting will not save your duck. Although, after a successful mission, the game will deliver a horrible pun such as "SPLASHING!" or "QUACKTACULAR!" or something goofy like that. Thanks.

The graphics are nothing less than unimpressive. For a PlayStation 3 title, this is not what should be expected for a next-generation game. It could stand as being a low-level PlayStation 2 game at best. Now I'll grant the game its charm; after all, many people think rubber ducks are downright adorable. Plus the splashing water effects are nifty enough. Nevertheless, considering when it was developed, it just doesn't add up to the full abilities of the console, not by a longshot. There also isn't much polish in this sense, in that the game looks very "back-to-basics" and clearly it was designed not for eye-candy purposes but to focus on its content. (That didn't go over too well though!) Perhaps it is for reasons such as these that the game is not available in stores, but only via the PlayStation Network.

Likewise goes for the audio; while what IS there is of decent enough quality, the sheer amount of it is so minimal that it's as though quality doesn't matter if quantity is non-existent. Musically, there is a song at the title screen and a few little ditties to indicate that you've either completed a board successfully or seriously messed up (a slightly more likely possibility in later levels), all of which are flighty. Otherwise, there is only soft ambient music that couldn't perk up an excessive coffee drinker. As for sound effects, there are the basic ones you can associate with rubber duck adventures: the splashing of water, the quacking of a duck, the chomping of a shark, and the annoyed grunt of a miniature duck as it slips off the board into oblivion and inevitable hellish doom. (Yes, it's sad, but that's the life they chose.) The audio is inadequate; I expect more of a game from the 21st century!

Super Rub-A-Dub feels like nothing but a tech demo for the SIXAXIS controller that illustrates exactly how it can fail. Besides a general lack of substance within the game itself, there is a lack of next-generation graphics, enticing sound, and a control system that could make any unsuspecting PlayStation 3 owner soil themselves a little. Not even the cuteness of a rubber duck can save this game from belonging in the cyber-bargain bin. Although it is easy to obtain the demo version on the PlayStation Network, It should be given out as a free gift to anyone who purchases a PlayStation 3; we should not have to pay for such a sub-par offering. To sum it all up, Super Rub-A-Dub is worthy of being flushed down the tub!


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