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Duck Commander

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Duck Commander was made in 2013 by Supper Happy Fun Fun as Merge Interactive. It is a Plug and Play device and was published by Jakks Pacific. It is themed after a television series called Duck Dynasty. The show was a reality TV series about a family and their business on duck hunter products. It was produced between 2012 and 2017 during which eleven seasons were made. The viewership decreased steadily after the family head said some unfavorable things during a GQ magazine interview.

The used gun is the same as the ones of the Buck Hunter games which Jakks Pacific released prior to Duck Commander. It consists of two parts which are stacked together. The build quality is good and the gun doesn't feel cheap. An infra red light source is placed at the TV in order to allow the gun to measure in which direction it is pointed. The tracking works similar as the tracking at a Nintendo Wii. Therefore as with most IR based gun systems the light source can be substituted by a similar one of another vendor and even with candles. The gun contains the gaming system itself and is plugged into the TV via RCA connectors, transmitting composite video. The system is powered by four AA cells and the light source by three AAA cells.

The gun lacks sights. The player is supposed to shift a cross hair on the screen from the hip. Sadly the calibration screen at the beginning of the game is fake and doesn't calibrate anything. It is just a tutorial segment teaching the player how to shift the cursor onto a target and fire.

The game consists of three mini games. One mini game is about shooting ducks at three different locations. The location changes from time to time but loops back to the first one after the third location. The player has to reload after every shot by actuating the pump handle of the gun. After a special gauge is filled the so called frenzy mode can be triggered, in which reloading is done automatically and the ducks appear faster. The aim of this mini game is to make as many points as possible as long as the timer runs. Shooting ducks yields in points and additional time, whereas allowing ducks to leave from the screen subtracts time as a punishment. Initially I had fun playing this mini game, but the difficulty increases just very slowly if at all. Personally I don't like if a game is more about endurance than challenge.

The second mini game is about shooting frogs. The aim is to juggle them three times, which will yield in points and additional time. Over the course of the game more and more holes appear in which the frogs can escape, which steadily increases the difficulty. Personally I liked this mini game better than the first one as for the higher challenge.

The third mini game is about shooting beavers before they reach and attack the player. Shooting beavers will fill up a jar with an ethanol solution. Full jars can be used as screen clearing weapon by pumping the gun's handle. From time to time ice tea floats over the screen, which replenishes the player's health upon being shot. Amongst the mini games of this plug and play device I liked this one the most.

In total I wasn't amazed by this system. As a video game I can't recommend it. Fans of the TV series could possibly have more fun with it than I had.

The packaging is well made and looks interesting. As so often with Jakks Pacific boxes the shown TV just has two instead of three RCA sockets, which looks pretty embarrassing.

During an interview with Bill LaCoste, the director of product development of Super Happy Fun Fun, I was able to place some questions. As I falsely thought there was a bug in one of the score boards I asked him about the development schedule of this game. It turns out that the team indeed just had very little time to do Duck Commander. Bill told me that he had the opportunity to see some members of the family in person. He was pleasantly surprised that everyone he has met was genuinely very similar behaving as they do in the series. It was an enjoyable experience to Bill.