Beneath their stoic demeanor and lust for bread crumbs, every duck hides a special ability. In fact, it's not an ability exclusive to them -- all animals in nature have the ability to temporarily rewind time. This is what Tough Guy Studios' Time Ducks has taught me.
It also taught me that animals have an inexplicable need to cross gigantic, dangerous highways. At first glance, Time Ducks looks and feels like a Frogger clone, but as the game progresses and more and more animals require aid, the game's Flight Control influence starts to emerge.
There are more than ducks at play here. Littering the outer edges of the map are the natural habitat of rabbits, foxes, monkeys and other indigenous species of the highway. I think there are also llama, but I'm not really sure. The combination of the game's clunky, retro-inspired art style and its overall zaniness makes me feel like I'm in the middle of a drug-induced stupor.
Part of the strategy of the game is guiding each animal to its appropriate habitat. The time mechanic comes into play when an animal is about to get run over -- you simply swipe to the left and the game will rewind, offering a second chance to safely corral the critter. If you're playing normal mode, you'll lose when you lose your first animal, but Time Duck's 12 minute mode will forgive every animal death as you rush to get the highest score you can before time runs out.
Scoring is based on combos. At the top of the screen are three boxes, part of a meta-game of mix-and-match -- a rescued animal will fill the first available box and, depending on what order they're saved, players will receive a bonus. The occasional dog will also wander into view, which you can then tap to instantly add to an empty box above, modifying your combos.
Finally, there are also some really light and fun menu graphics at play here, some just as much fun as the game itself. Each area of the UI offers hilarious tips and insight into the game, delivered by oddly eccentric alien gentlemen. Apparently one of them has been teaching the ancient art of Time Ducks since Sumerian times, which is exactly what we've always suspected.
Time Ducks is available on the iTunes App Store for $0.99. We're always looking for new distractions. Want to submit your game for Portabliss consideration? You can reach us at portabliss aat joystiq dawt com.