March 19, 2007 - We bet you thought you quite liked ducks, with their harmless quacks and stupid feet. In fact, you've probably spent many a lazy sunny day, casually tossing husks of dried crust at their poor defenceless heads, in the spirit of arbitrary altruism. Put it this way though: if real ducks were anything like as mind-boggling annoying as their pixel counterparts in Super Rub'a'Dub, you'd be swapping your Hovis for a nail gun in no time.
In fact, as casual games go, Sony Europe has done a staggering job at creating one of the most pointless, soulless and - most importantly - infuriating titles we've seen in a while. This one's more likely to have your dear old mother hurling the PS3 through your fancy new 40-inch hi-def telly than it is encouraging a glassy-eyed state of catatonia after half a bottle of wine once Corrie's finished.
Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves though. In principle, Super Rub'a'Dub is quite an appealing idea. Simply, you're tasked with guiding a rubber duck around a bath-like maze in a quest to free your tiny plastic brethren from their bubble prisons and guide them to the plug hole exit. Of course, as usual, it's not quite that straightforward. As with Monkey Ball et al, rather than controlling the protagonist directly, tilting the SIXAXIS controller affects the lay of the water-logged level. Tilt right and water cascades in that direction, sending your tiny duck friends bobbing off accordingly. Further complicating matters are low walls threatening a plunge into oblivion, sharks with a penchant for nibbling on rubber flesh and other level-based obstacles requiring crafty navigation via controller-flicking jumps.
Success requires your completing a level within a set time limit. The goal is to hang onto each of your freed ducks (which form a polite line and follow your route) and dump the whole lot back at the exit together, forming a 'duck chain'. Depending on the number of ducks you liberate and the length of your chain, seconds will be subtracted from your overall time, earning you a medal in the process if you're swift enough.
As a starting point, it all works very well. Unfortunately, the first of Super Rub'a'Dub's many shortcomings is its complete failure to develop the idea in any particular direction. For pretty much the entire duration, you're faced with a range of extraordinarily basic 'mazes' to navigate, with obstacles limited to the odd chasm, badly placed shark or - very occasionally - a strong current or out-of-reach duck bubble. With a bit of creativity, these simple ingredients would be enough to fashion some increasingly fiendish skill-based levels to navigate. Unfortunately, what you get instead is level after tediously bland level, pretty much guaranteeing a flatline on the excite-o-meter after ten minutes. Even on 'Tough' mode, the only challenge arises from basic design flaws and sloppy controls.