Redneck Duck Hunt
Duck Dynasty is now the most-watched non-fiction series in cable TV history, and the reason for that is a charismatic quartet by the name of Robertson. The Robertson family became millionaires thanks to their Duck Commander duck calls, and this month family patriarch Phil, his brother Si, and sons Willie and Jase become immortal in a silly but diverting little iPad game called appropriately, Duck Dynasty: Battle of the Beards.
As you might imagine, Battle of the Beards isn’t exactly the video game equivalent of A Tale of Two Cities. In fact, its modest collection of absurd mini-games makes it closer to a hairy version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but nonetheless, it’s entertaining. The game starts by having you customize your own bland yuppie character: a plain old clean-shaven guy with short hair and a white t-shirt. After this, you’re thrown into a series of mini-games, starting at intensity level 1.
Naturally, these are all related to Duck Dynasty, so there’s one that shows open company boxes gliding by on a conveyor belt, waiting for you to tape them up. Other games want you to scrub back and forth on the touch screen either to dye the beard of the image-conscious Willie or to wake Si up from an afternoon nap. There’s a whole range of redneck activities like catching frogs and fish, shooting ducks, squirrels, and bucks, tossing hot chili peppers into Jase’s mouth (or donuts into Si’s), putting on Phil’s hunting war paint, or blowing up hunting blinds and beaver dams. There’s even a game that tests your ability to tell the difference between tasty wild berries and nasty raccoon droppings. It’s not, as they say, “rocket science.” Battle of the Beards is a collection of extremely simple activities, some of which take literally five seconds to perform.
Still, the touchscreen controls handle nicely, and when you win at a mini-game, you get a pat on the back from one of the digital Robertsons. Each handful of mini-games you beat, the game intensity increases, all the way up to ten. Higher intensity levels keep things from getting boring too quickly by adding faster timers and more things to shoot or collect.
Once you’ve built up a decent haul of duck coins, you’re ready to transform your yuppie character into a redneck that Miss Kay would be proud of. The in-game shop is stocked with stylish Loosiana bayou couture: hats, bandanas, sunglasses, and camo shirts and pants. If you’re impatient, or just can’t seem to earn enough duck coins the hard way, you can buy some for five bucks or less. Duck coins also come in handy for the Beard Talk feature. Beard Talk lets you hear beard tips and other rustic philosophical advice straight from the Bearded Ones’ mouths at a cost of 10,000 to 50,000 duck coins. (Not surprisingly, Si, “The Master of Distraction” costs the most.)
Though Duck Dynasty: Battle of the Beards is somewhat limited and basically an interactive ad for A&E’s television show, it’s well made, challenging, and far more fun than it has any right to be. Its graphics are as simple as is its gameplay, but complexity isn’t needed here. All that’s needed are great character likenesses (which it has), engaging mini-games (yup), and great voices (if the voices don’t come from the real Robertsons, I’ll be a gator’s uncle.) With all that going for it, Duck Dynasty: Battle of the Beards is likely to be hit among gamers who recognize the Robertson in-jokes and enjoy testing their redneck reflexes.