Ducks Ahoy! is an early videogame available for the Commodore 64. The front of the box says the game was intended for children aged 3 to 6. The back of the box indicates that this title was intended as an educational tool where "...children can practice counting skills and predicting outcomes, and are encouraged to think logically."
Game play is simple. You control a boat, and your job is to transport ducks from their homes in Venice to the nearby beach. Your boat can hold no more than two ducks at a time without capsizing.
Also, your boat may capsize if you are not perfectly lined up with the jumping point from which a duck blindly leaps towards the water with no regard for his own safety (apparently, ducks in this world cannot swim). There is no penalty, however, for letting the ducks drown. To complete the level, you must transport a total of ten ducks from their homes to the beach. Then the next level begins, albeit at an increased rate of action for increased difficulty.
The only thing resembling an adversary in this game is a cluster of bubbles which betray the presence of a hippopotamus (a hippo? in Venice?) lurking just below the surface. The bubbles are present for most of the game, though the hippo does dive
deeper into the water from time to time, disappearing from view and temporarily harmless. Should your boat and the bubbles meet, you will capsize and the hippo will laugh at you. You can capsize four times before the game ends, and with each new boat you use the ducks resume their progress from their original positions.
As this game was developed in the early days of home computers, and as it was intended for children, the graphics are simple, but detailed enough to be interesting. Despite the grid layout of the playing field, the game tries to emulate three dimensions with the presence of bridges between buildings beneath which your boat disappears as you pass under them. Each building is different from the others, and with the bridges, it is never certain where a particular duck will decide to make its leap.
The sounds in the game are equally primitive. A brief but infectious little tune repeats itself in the background, while ducks who fail to make it to your boat hit the water with a recognizable splash, though the sound of your boat capsizing just sounds like there is something wrong with your speakers.
As this game is now only available through emulators, the target audience may well only be people who WERE "Aged 3 to 6" during the Commodore 64 era. Nevertheless, as casual gaming is becoming popular on a wider scale, this title provides a means of occupying your mind enough to pass the time, but not so involving that you cannot walk away from it. Plus, it's a really old school game just obscure enough that your friends have probably never heard of it, so talking about it will slightly improve your Geek Cred.