The practice of taking old material, giving it a new lick of paint and combining it into an attractive-looking package is not a new one in pop music. It can be a means of bringing the classics to a modern audience, and of preserving timeless material that really shouldn't be allowed to die off.
Conversely, such revivalism can be a cynical means of squeezing every last drop out of a something that really has little value to a modern audience.
Bubble Ducky 3-in-1 follows this template, with Digital Chocolate bringing together Bubble Ducky, Funky Ducky and Ducky's Jewels into one quacking package. But is this canard compendium a thoughtfully remastered classic, or an ill-advised rerun?
As you can see, we've covered two of these games previously on Pocket Gamer. What you may not have noticed is that these are no spring chickens. Or ducklings, for that matter. Funky Ducky's brand of casual puzzling earned it an underwhelming response back in 2006, while Bubble Ducky hardly blew us away a whole three years ago.
To its credit, Digital Chocolate has gone to some effort, updating each title graphically and applying a unified visual style. As such, Bubble Ducky 3-in-1 feels like a proper, stand alone title rather than a hastily cobbled together mish-mash. Still, the core gameplay remains pretty much unchanged, so let's look at how each stands up to scrutiny at the end of 2008.
First up, Bubble Ducky, the game that lends this collection its name. Strangely enough, it's probably the least enjoyable title of the three. The aim is to drop a screen full of coloured bubbles below a horizontal line placed halfway up the screen. You achieve this by clicking on clumps of bubbles, which then disappear, allowing any bubbles above to drop down.
It plays smoothly enough, as you'd expect from a Digital Chocolate title, but the premise is just too lightweight and lacking in tactical depth to ever really hook you in. Little forward planning is required and it soon becomes rather tedious.
Onto the other title we've covered previously, Funky Ducky. This time, groups of bubbles of a particular colour will disappear when clicked if they're immediately next to each other (even diagonally). This leads to enormous snaking lines of the things, presenting an ever-changing grid. You have only ten moves at your disposal, but if you manage to form a complete loop of bubbles, you'll gain additional moves according to the number of 'pearls' trapped in the middle.
Again, it's a fairly light and meandering puzzler, but I enjoyed this the most out of all three games. It requires a bit of planning and strategic thought to set up elaborate loops that may cost you three moves, but will ultimately gain you four.
The third game, Ducky's Jewels, is a Jewel Quest-a-like bubble-aligning game where you have to cover every square of the grid in order to rid it of inky pollution. Match three or more coloured bubbles by swapping two adjacent bubbles around, and you'll rid that section of icky black stuff. Clean up the whole pond to complete the level.
It's as simple and fun as it sounds. Plenty of puzzlers have followed this template, and that's because it works very well indeed. Nevertheless, familiarity definitely breeds, if not contempt, then certainly boredom. Ducky's Jewels offers nothing new to the formula, and as such we don't feel any great desire to return to it.
The collection's Story mode goes a little way to perking it up as a package. Here, you follow a linear path of tasks spread across all three games, all in the name of rescuing your ducky colleagues. This doesn't change the gameplay all that much, but Funky Ducky in particular becomes a markedly better experience as a result.
In Story mode, rather than the aimless trudgery of forming loops ad infinitum, you have a set number of pearls to obtain. The simple inclusion of a clear goal gives the game a sense of purpose it lacks in the standalone mode, and it's all the better for it
Still, Bubble Ducky 3-in-1 is little more than a forgettable collection of three average puzzlers, knitted together with above-average presentation and a rather neat Story mode. If you've exhausted all of the puzzling options on your mobile (unlikely) it may be worth a purchase, but really this is more of a B-sides collection then an indispensable Greatest Hits package.