By Darryl Vassar 02/20/2007 It's funny how a single game can validate a whole controller. Or at least get pretty close.
So far, the use of the PS3 controller's motion sensing capabilities has been weak to say the least. Resistance's method of having the player shake the controller to get an enemy off his throat is a good example of taking advantage of the controller's functionality. That's really been the only good example. Controlling your skater in Tony Hawk's Project 8 and your vehicle in MotorStorm just doesn't work.
Phil Harrison unveiled Super Rub a Dub a few weeks ago at DICE and the game had shown up on the European PS3 launch game line up awhile back. Now we've finally got some details on the rubber ducky game. The 3D Studio Max default duck that has appeared in many of Sony's PS3 demos has done himself proud. The game is a bit like Super Monkey Ball and Lemmings rolled into a...tub.
The gameplay is simple. Everything happens on a single screen. You see a tub filled with water and plenty of ducklings lounging about. The player has to pick up the ducklings by hitting them with his duck and steering them towards the drain. While the tub is always shaped like a rectangle, it can have different layouts inside and lack walls in certain places (resulting in the duck falling off, if you are not careful).
[Click the image above to check out all Super Rub a Dub screens.]
Like in Monkey Ball you don't actually control the character. Rather, you manipulate the tub by tilting it and control the duck that way. You can jump by quickly lifting the controller and you need this move for those high-score attempts in the more difficult levels.
You pick up the ducks and head to the exit and that's it. You get ranked based on the time you take and how many ducks you save and if you manage to grab all the ducklings in a combo. It's a bit like Lemmings in the way that you can lose some of the ducklings but still make it through. There are sharks in some tubs that you have to avoid because once you hit them they come alive and eat your ducklings. In some levels you actually do just that by controlling the shark, which is a fun surprise.
The game is split into three difficulty levels (fun, tricky and tough). The music tends to sound annoying, but the duck and water sound effects are ace through surround sound. There's an online leaderboard and you can check your friends' scores separately. Up to four players can play by each taking their turn. A nice touch is that you navigate the interface by tilting the controller.
Above all, it's a great pick up and play game -- and more importantly, a game that has a mechanic well built for the Sixaxis that doesn't make you wish the developers had included rumble instead. Along with PlayStation Store titles like Blast Factor and flOw, it looks like these downloadable games are going to continue to be far better advocates of the Sixaxis than the majority of full-on commercial releases for the time being.