Duck Hunt (NES)

Duck Hunt Box Art.

Duck Hunt

System: NES

Release Date: October 1985

Developer: Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo

Genre: Light Gun Shooter

Our next game set out to give me some trouble because it is a game that requires the NES Zapper. Not knowing what kinds of hardware I’d need to get it working and the internet not being much help, I figured out that I could set my mouse as a zapper and went at it that way. Let’s be honest, though, I’ve played a crap load of Duck Hunt in my day. The Zapper games were always a favorite of mine when I was a kid. I spent a lot of time shooting the ducks and the clay pigeons in Duck Hunt, as well as others that we’ll get to soon, like Hogan’s Alley.

Getting a perfect round bonus.

There are three modes to play in Duck Hunt. One duck, two ducks, and clay pigeon shooting. In each mode, you have three shots to hit your target(s). The ducks are rustled from the bushes from your faithful companion the Dog. You then have a few seconds to hit them or the use of your three bullets before they fly away.

Two duck mode.

In the clay pigeon mode, two pigeons are launched from the bottom of the screen and you have to hit both with your three bullets. The pigeons are easier to hit (have a bigger hit box) when first launched and get harder (have a smaller hit box) as they get further away.

Clay pigeons being thrown for me to shoot.

What everyone likely remembers from Duck Hunt is the way the Dog snickers at you if you miss the ducks. I’d always aim and pretend I could blast him to the afterlife when I was a kid. Too bad that wasn’t a thing. Something that not everyone knew (because who ever read the manual) was that a second player could control the ducks with the NES controller!

Stupid dog…

The goal of Duck Hunt is to amass a high score. It’s not that hard to keep going, but the ducks do start to fly faster as the rounds count higher. It’s even easier when you play with a mouse.

Graphics: 3.0

I think the graphics are great. The dog and duck sprites are big. The landscape is attractive. This still looks fine today.

Sound: 2.0

The sound isn’t great or anything, but it’s fine. None of the sounds or ditties really stick with me, but they weren’t offensive.

Gameplay: 3.0

The Zapper games would have to do a lot wrong to earn a bad score for gameplay. The premise of aim at target and shoot holds its appeal for a long time.

Difficulty: 1.5

Duck Hunt isn’t hard and I think a boost in difficulty would be a benefit for the game.

Fun Factor: 3.0

Definitely a fun game. I’d still pull it out now and again if I knew where the hell my Zapper was.

Overall Grade: 2.5

Duck Hunt coming in at a C+/B- sounds right. It’s innovative and memorable, but most of all, it’s fun. It’s just a shame that CRT TVs have gone to endangered status, meaning playing these games naturally is now difficult.

Duck Hunt Video Review on YouTube

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