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Video Game / Donald in Maui Mallard

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Starring Don- I mean, Maui's alter-ego, Cold Shadow.
Donald in Maui Mallard, also known as Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow is one of the lesser known Donald Duck action games. It was originally released in 1995 for the Sega Genesis in Europe and Brazil and later ported to the SNES (with different level designs and mechanics), Game Boy, and PC (based on the Sega Genesis version and featured an orchestrated soundtrack).

It isn't known if Maui Mallard, the detective who is also a ninja, is an Alternate Universe version of Donald, his past self or somebody completely unrelated - but surely he'd like to quit his dangerous supernatural job and live a simpler life. However, he's called for one last mission: to search and find the missing idol statue of Shabuhm Shabuhm before the island it protects explodes. That won't be easy since everyone in the island wants him dead for whatever reason...

Gameplay is divided between Maui's two forms. Normally he's equipped with a "1935 Westchester Bug Gun", a gun that shoots bugs. Besides the normal shot, there are three other types that can be mixed into more powerful attacks. And when Maui finds obstacles he can't get through, he can turn into Cold Shadow, a ninja who uses a staff to attack enemies with combos, swing over pits and move at high speeds over lava surfaces.

Although a sequel named Maui Mallard And The Lost City Of Dread and a cartoon were planned, the game didn't do well at market. They even removed Donald's name from the game in the US, due to the marketing team's concern that children wouldn't willingly buy a game featuring a character that wasn't "hip" in their eyes.

Still, it has some very dedicated fans. Back in 2011, BigMex at 1UP wrote a series of articles on the story and legacy of Maui Mallard that is a must-read for fans of the game. And to celebrate the game's 25th anniversary, Max Nasikan published an interview with 12 of the game's developers, revealing several details about its development and the unreleased sequel.

This game contains examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: Maui's gun is loaded with what look like magical beetles or roaches.
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: In the Genesis version, there are TNT barrels in the second part of stage 6. When they explode, they start destroying the ship's hull and will suck Maui into the background if he doesn't run away. In the SNES version, the explosion happens automatically when the level starts and is slower.
  • Agony of the Feet: In the Game Over screen of the SNES version, the Game Over letters drop on Maui's foot, and he jumps around in pain.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • The manual describes the story, controls, items and levels from Maui's point of view. In fact, many things Maui says in the manual were supposed to be explained in other games. It's rather sad to read the manual and learn, among other things, that this game is supposed to be chapter 35 of the story.
    • The PC version's manual is instead written from the viewpoint of a muddrake who supports Maui.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Ying Yang coins respawn once your Ying Yang power runs low and are often set close to Checkpoints. Puzzles or bosses that require specific ammo to beat will have it respawn nearby.
  • Appease the Volcano God: The Sacrifice of Maui involves him being tossed into a volcano, killing a skull demon inside it and climbing his way out as it erupts.
  • Asteroids Monster: Fire Spirits will produce small fiery bats when they're hit. Luckily, if you strike them down with the staff they'll only release one bat before vanishing.
  • Bag of Spilling: Once you clear an act in the SNES version, you'll lose every special weapon you had. This forces the players to battle the bosses with the normal gun.
  • Behind a Stick: Cold Shadow's crouch pose invokes this with his staff.
  • Big Bad: The Mojo Witch Doctor, the one who stole the idol in the first place.
  • Big Good: Supposedly Hernae, since despite her initial hostility she eventually accepts Maui and helps him out.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Hernae grabs Maui and pulls him in close for one of these in the ending.
  • Black Comedy: The game was pitched as such a comedy that people would have difficulty playing it from laughing too much. In practice, it has various disturbing settings and characters that nevertheless have a comical aspect to them. Even the scary zombies who let out a ghostly yell as they crawl out of the ground and melt upon taking damage start dragging their asses behind them.
  • Blindfolded Vision: Cold Shadow wears a blindfold, which he only pulls off for comical effect in his crouching animation.
  • Brought Down to Normal: In the 5th and 6th stages you're unable to transform into a ninja. Reversed for the Final Boss fight, where you're stripped of all your bugs and pistol.
  • Bonus Stage: Babaluau Baby. In the Genesis version, it is a rather hard Death Course where Maui is on a unicycle and must avoid losing his powerups. There are no dangers in the SNES version, but he has to do a lot of exploring to find some fireworks and beat the level. You can earn extra lives and continues in both versions as well as Zombie Powder in the Genesis version.
  • Boss Battle: Averted in stage 7. You'll get a Nintendo Hard Escort Mission + Rise to the Challenge level instead!
  • Boss-Only Level: The final stage, the Mojo Stronghold, is essentially one big arena where you have to reach the Final Boss and confront him.
  • Chekhov's Volcano: A volcano appears in the background of the first level. Maui is thrown inside it for the fourth level, which ends with an eruption.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The Ninja Clones in the boss battle of stage 2 wear different colors, depending on their powers.
  • Combos: Cold Shadow can perform combos. In the Genesis version he needs to collect red yin yang coins to accumulate them and in the SNES version, they use his normal yin yang meter.
  • Continuing is Painful: You lose all of your collected ammo and Zombie Powder upon a single death.
  • Darker and Edgier: Let's see... in this game Donald has a gun, can turn into a ninja, fights monsters in creepy levels, gets dragged to Hell when he dies...
  • Defeat Means Friendship: After Maui defeats the muddrake army, an alliance between them is forged. Not. He must escape from a volcano and kill their frog god to earn their respect.
  • Dragged Off to Hell: In this game's Black Screen of Death, a big green hand comes from underground and quickly drags Maui to hell. He is shown escaping from there in the continue screen, but will be killed for real in the game over sequence.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Hernae initially doesn't want Maui getting involved to the point where she pursues him in her fireball form. By the end, she's fully supportive of him and gives him the power to become a ninja without Yin-Yang coins.
  • Difficulty Levels: They just set how much health and how many lives and continues you start with.
  • Dual Boss: Downplayed in the fight against the ninja clones. Sometimes two will spawn at once but one of them is a kind of decoy that will die in a single hit.
  • Dub Name Change: Ironically, the Brazilian manual for the PC version replaces all instances of "Maui" with "Donald".
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: It's implied in the ending, and stated outright in the game's design document, that the muddrake who latches on to the fridge-idol claimed credit for recovering it while Maui is left stuck on the ground by the others. Subverted by Hernae giving Maui his own constellation and hooking up with him.
  • Duel Boss: You fight a bunch of ninja clones in stage 2, an army of muddrakes in stage 3 and the final boss in this way.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: In some versions, the Witch Doctor will appear in the beginning of the 2nd stage and use his powers on Maui to create an army of Ninja clones.
  • Escaped from Hell: Everyone's favorite hothead, Donald Duck (oh, sorry, Maui Mallard), gets Dragged Off to Hell when a life is lost. When out of lives, he uses his pistol to blast his way out to the continue screen.
  • Escort Mission: Happens in the second part of Realm of the Dead and in one part of stage 5 in the SNES version.
  • Expy: Maui Mallard is one of Thomas Magnum.
    "Jack Lord. Tom Selleck. Donald Duck. In the great tradition of Hawaii 5-0 and Magnum P.I. comes a new island detective, a tougher, meaner brand of private eye. One with a temper. And feathers. And a flower print shirt."
    —Design document for the game
  • Feed It a Bomb: How you defeat the Frog God. It's tricky both because you're not on solid ground and because the Boss will release damaging belch clouds after every successful hit. In the SNES version this is subverted; you just have to feed it Muddrakes until he's full.
  • Final Boss, New Dimension: The final battle takes place on some floating stone platforms adorned with pearls in the heart of a storm over the island. In the PC version the storm is even red-colored.
  • Flying Dutchman: Duckman, actually. It's the boss of stage 6, a sunken pirate ship... Where you don't get to pit ninja Cold Shadow against it. What a waste of a "Ninjas Vs. Pirates" opportunity!
  • Flying Face: The bosses of level 4 and 6. The former is a stone-idol thing that infests a volcano, the latter is the ghost captain of the Flying Duckman.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: In the Genesis version, there are cases of the flash effect from using a Smart Bomb getting stuck on the screen, rendering the game unplayable.
  • Gasshole: Both the fire spirits and the Frog God can damage Maui by belching at him.
  • Giant Animal Worship: The Muddrakes worship a giant red frog which Maui either kills or appeases by feeding natives to it depending of the version.
  • Giant Spider: Several spiders show up in the first level, with their boss being a large metallic spider living in the attic.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: In the Genesis version, get most of the treasure in a level to get the password to the next one. In the SNES version, doing this unlocks a bonus level so then you can try to get the password.
  • Gratuitous Ninja: Donald is pretty awesome as he is. With a gun and a ninja transformation, then...
  • Guide Dang It!: In the Genesis version, Cold Shadow can run really fast if you hold A and double-tap to his front. This is only mentioned in a footnote in the manual. Remember this well because you'll really need it in stage 2...
  • Haunted House: The Mojo Mansion.
  • Heart Container: A bag of... Zombie Powder is hidden in each level (and bonus levels) of the Genesis version and increases Maui's HP by 50 points. In the SNES version it appears various times through the levels, but you don't get to keep the effects through the game.
  • The Hero Dies: Played for Laughs at the end. Maui doesn't actually die, but is crushed and half-buried by the sacred idol. Hernae shows up and says he'll be posthumously remembered as a hero and get a constellation of himself in the sky, all while Maui is clearly alive and struggling to pull himself out of the floor.
  • Heroic Mime: Maui has no dialogue in-game, but he does talk in the manual.
  • Idle Animation: Maui looks around while pointing his gun or checks a map/scroll, but sometimes it's a chicken instead. Cold Shadow just turns around twice, or starts spinning his Bo Staff to use it as a hula hoop.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: The game over screen shows Maui getting dragged into hell for good. A muddrake appears to briefly mourn him and the background music then plays some mocking Losing Horns.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Stage 4, The Sacrifice Of Maui, takes place in a volcano.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: In the second part of the final boss fight, the Witch Doctor will steal all of Maui's weapons and force him into his ninja form.
  • Lighter and Softer: Thanks to the color palette, a couple of levels in the SNES version feel less morbid. The creepy Game Over screen is changed to something funny.
  • Lohengrin and Mendelssohn: For some reason, this tune plays during the ending cutscene in the SNES version.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: The Witch Doctor will use his mask as a shield during the final clash.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: The Witch Doctor wears a creepy mask. And there's no head under it!
  • Ms. Fanservice: Hernae, the apprentice shamaness who appears to Maui several times during the course of the story.
  • Naked People Are Funny: In the battle against the Muddrake Gladiator, you can knock off the other muddrakes' loincloths. They will bashfully shuffle over, pull them back on, and continue fighting.
  • The Name Is Bond, James Bond: Maui introduces himself in this manner in the game's manual.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: From the 6th stage on we have Ghost Pirates, Will'o the Wisps and zombies as enemies.
  • Ninja: Cold Shadow and his clones.
  • Nintendo Hard: The game's boss fights and platforming are above-average in difficulty, and there are limited continues.
  • No Name Given: Maui's ninja self actually isn't ever named in-game and both the SNES and Mega Drive versions of the manual simply refer to him as "Ninja Maui". It took the manual of the PC version to confirm he is supposed to be named "Cold Shadow", and establishes he's actually a legendary figure Maui draws power from. Some other characters are also unnamed.
  • Noodle Incident: The people of the island distrust Maui because of something he's done in the past, but we're never told what it is. Perhaps the cancelled sequel would have explained those events.
  • One Last Job: Supposedly, this adventure was Maui's last job before retirement. Given there was no sequel, he got his wish in a way.
  • Outside-the-Box Tactic: The first boss in the Genesis version is vulnerable in his startup animation, so you can kill it before the battle starts with the homing + lightning attack. There's also the third form of the fourth boss: just drop a Smart Bomb to kill it. In the SNES version, while the final boss has powerful, hard to dodge attacks, you can simply let yourself be hit by Collision Damage (which does only 1 HP of damage) and then abuse the Mercy Invincibility.
  • Password Save: Used by the Genesis, SNES and PC versions. The two releases of the Genesis version use different sets of passwords (only ININJA is the same on both) and the PC version uses the Brazilian set.
  • Piranha Problem: Piranha fish will often try to bite at Maui as they jump from the water. If Maui falls into piranha-infested waters, a series of biting sounds will be heard and he'll fly out of it, screaming in pain and with less life.
  • Platform Hell:
    • The stages involving swinging around as Cold Shadow tend to be very demanding.
    • The bonus Babaluau Baby stages in the Genesis version have Maui riding on a unicycle that's deliberately hard to control. The SNES version instead has very tall platforming areas that despite lacking any hazards are intentionally confusing to explore.
  • Posthumous Character: Quackoo, the former Muddrake shaman and likely Hernea's master, is already dead when you find him, but you still have to recover his soul in a jar from the Flying Duckman and bring it back to the Realm of the Dead where it belongs.
  • Recurring Riff: There's a melody that is part of nearly every theme in the game.
  • Regional Bonus: The Brazilian release of the Mega Drive version had a few little things the European version didn't, such as some tutorials that played when the played died in stage 1 or 2. Those features were later used in the PC version.
  • Reused Character Design: The game reimagines Donald Duck as a hard-boiled detective warrior with a different name, not unlike the various takes of both him and Mickey seen in fantasy-oriented comic books.
  • Rise to the Challenge: Rising volcano lava in stage 4 and rising sea of acid in stage 7.
  • Seashell Bra: Hard to notice in game (both because of the graphics and because she moves around a lot) but Hernae wears one, as better seen in the manual (It looks like a normal bra in the SNES version, at least).
  • Secret A.I. Moves: The ninja clones Boss in stage 2 can use various moves that Cold Shadow can't, like a harmful version of the running move and sliding. The SNES version adds projectiles to their arsenal and lets them dodge your attacks.
  • Sequel Hook: "Watch for Maui's next adventure", they said... The PC version outright had "Keep your eyes peeled for Maui's next adventure!" in bold letters on the back of the manual, but neither Maui Mallard And The Lost City Of Dread nor Maui Mallard 3: The Quackening ever came to fruition.
  • Sequential Boss
    • In the SNES version, the Giant Spider goes One-Winged Angel, Dracula-style.
    • In stage 2, Cold Shadow has to fight a pack of ninja clones. By the end of the battle he'll be fighting two at once and they'll be using unique attacks. In the Game Boy version, the clones have no extra moves, but they do get more HP.
    • The boss of stage 4 starts as a skull with a tail of ribs. After it loses it, it gets a shield of rocks, which it later uses as projectiles.
    • In the Genesis version, the Giant Frog in stage 5 has to be fought twice.
    • To defeat the final boss, Maui must destroy the barrier around him, then fight him directly as Cold Shadow.
  • Shock and Awe: The Witch Doctor's powers, when he's not trying to bash Maui with his scepter.
  • Shout-Out: The Realm of the Dead is based on a pair of illustrations made by Micheal Whelan, but is otherwise unrelated to him or any Lovecraftian themes. Unless one counts the eldritch horrors that Maui encounters and the otherworldly landscapes that he wanders through.
  • Smart Bomb: What you get by mixing all three weapon types.
  • Sound Test: The Genesis version has it. The SNES seems to have one, but it only has 8 sounds, none of them being music.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In the Genesis version, Maui kills the Muddrakes' giant frog deity. In the SNES version he just sacrifices a bunch of muddrakes to it.
  • Spin Attack: Cold Shadow has one in the SNES version, but it's not very useful.
  • Stellification: During the ending, Hernae speaks as if Maui has died in battle (he just got his head stuck on the ground) and promises to get him a constellation in the sky. His grinning face is seen among the stars after she spirits him away.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The boss of the Flying Duckman level attacks by tossing sea mines at you.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: Stage 6 takes place underwater, with no drowning mechanics.
  • Suspicious Video-Game Generosity:
    • The "Teleport!" area in the Mega Drive version's Ninja Training Grounds has a free 1-Up, and by backtracking a bit you can collect another one. Outrunning the insta-kill fireball requires either a move with an input that's not explained properly in-game (or at all in the original release) or jumping out of the way in a very precise way.
    • The bungee-jumping levels give you several bags of Zombie Powder right away. You'll need them.
  • Title of the Dead: Stage 7, The Realm of the Dead.
  • Took a Level in Badass: The normally fowl-tempered, Butt-Monkey stuck with bad luck is now a gun toting, ghost busting, island saving, sea diving, bungee jumping, ninja detective who even makes his way out of Hell!
  • Toothy Bird: Everyone.
  • Tropical Island Adventure: The setting of the game.
  • Tutorial Failure: The Brazilian Mega Drive version added tutorial skits that explain the more complex inputs in-game, but annoyingly enough those only play when you die in the first two stages.
  • Under the Sea: Stage 6, The Flying Duckman.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: After defeating the Witch Doctor, Maui ends up buried in the ground after the Shabhum Shabuhm idol falls on him. The Muddrakes are too busy drinking to pay him any attention and leave him stuck into the floor.
  • Video Game Dashing: Cold Shadow has a dash move in the Mega Drive version, which is named "Teleport" in the game even though it doesn't look like teleportation at all. Over the course of the game, you're supposed to use it to outrun a One-Hit Kill giant fire ball in Stage 2 and to run over lava floors on Stage 4. Thing is, you'll likely not know how to perform the move or even know it exists. The game actually expects you to not know, so even if you don't understand what that "TELEPORT!" writing in the wall is supposed to mean, it is still possible to dodge the fire ball and to endure the lava damage without the dash move. It is also surprisingly helpful in speedruns if you can manage the yin-yang timer.
  • Wheel o' Feet: Cold Shadow's ninja dash.
  • Wolfpack Boss: Technically, the Muddrake masked champion you fight in the 3rd stage is actually a gang of Muddrakes hiding behind a big mask.
  • Zero-Effort Boss: In the Sega Genesis version, the mechanical spider can be destroyed before it even starts attacking. The ghost pirate in the sixth stage can likewise be cheesed by simply spamming lightning bombs at him.