- Duck Hunt
North American NES box art of Duck Hunt.
Developer(s) Nintendo R&D1 Publisher(s) Nintendo Composer(s) Hirokazu Tanaka Platform(s) Famicom/NES, Arcade Release date(s) Genre(s) Light gun shooter, First Person Shooter Mode(s) Single-player, Two-Player Media/distribution 192-kilobit cartridge System requirements
Nintendo Entertainment Software
Duck Hunt (ダックハント) is a video game for the Nintendo Famicom/Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) game console system in which players use the NES Zapper to shoot ducks (or Mallard drakes to be exact) on screen for points. The game was developed and published by Nintendo, and was released in 1984 in Japan. The ducks appear one or two at a time, and the player is given three shots to shoot them down.
The game was not initially reviewed often, but given mediocre critical praise and positive gamer reaction. Prior to the NES version, Nintendo also made a Duck Hunt game based on Laser Clay Shooting System released in 1976. The game would be later be a pack-in game, being a dual game pak with this game and Super Mario Bros., and later a triple game with the same two games plus World Class Track Meet.
In Duck Hunt, players use the Nintendo Zapper Light Gun and attempt to shoot down either ducks or clay pigeons in mid-flight. Duck Hunt was also released as an arcade game in 1984, as Vs. Duck Hunt, and is included in the PlayChoice-10 arcade console.
The game has three modes:
- One Duck – In each round, there are 10 ducks for the player to shoot down. Only one duck appears on screen at a time, and the player has three shots to hit it.
- Two Ducks – Identical to "One Duck" except that the ducks appear on screen in pairs. A new pair of ducks will not appear until both of the previous pair have either escaped or been shot down.
- Clay Shooting – In each round, there are 10 clay pigeons for the player to shoot down. Clay pigeons are fired off two at a time from a first person perspective and are aimed into the distance. In Vs. Duck Hunt, Clay Shooting mode appears as the second round with the first round being the two duck variation (the arcade version never had one duck).
In the first two modes, a dog retrieves the ducks a player shoots, and laughs at the player if both of the birds on screen escape (and if the player fails to advance to the next level).
During bonus stages in Vs. Duck Hunt, the dog jumps out from the grass as a distraction to the player as they try to shoot ducks, thus putting himself in the line of fire and enabling a player to inadvertently shoot him. If the dog is shot, the bonus round ends.
Several unofficial remakes of Duck Hunt have been released which enable the player to shoot the dog. The nameless dog makes a cameo appearance in the NES game Barker Bill's Trick Shooting (another Zapper game) and he can be shot. A remake is included in the Homebrew Channel for Wii.
While Duck Hunt does not have a traditional multiplayer mode, the manual states that a second player may plug in a standard NES controller in the other controller port and control the duck that appears. This option is only possible in the one duck mode.
Duck Hunt has been placed in several combination cartridges. In the Action Set configuration of the NES in the late 1980s, Duck Hunt was included with Super Mario Bros.. This particular cartridge is found very often in the United States, due to it being included with the purchase of a NES. A Power Set was also available, which included the Action Set, the Power Pad and a 3-in-1 cartridge that included Duck Hunt, World Class Track Meet and Super Mario Bros.
The original music was composed by Hirokazu Tanaka, who did music for several other Nintendo games at the time. The game's music was represented in the classic games medley on the Video Games Live concert tour.
Allgame called the game an "attractive but repetitive target shooter" and "utterly mindless... the game is fun for a short time, but gets old after a few rounds of play." Several user groups have rated the game positively. 1UP.com users gave it an 8.7 out of 10, and the GameSpot community gave the Mario-Duck Hunt package a 9.1 out of 10. It was rated the 150th best game made on a Nintendo System in Nintendo Power's Top 200 Games list. IGN also placed the game at number 77 on its "Top 100 NES Games of All Time" feature. A remake homage to Duck Hunt appeared in Wii Play in the form of its Shooting Range minigame which features ducks and clay pigeons as targets.
Since appearing in Duck Hunt, the dog has become an icon to gaming, as well as a symbol of annoyance. IGN described him as the bane of their existence, including him in their "Annoying Character Hall of Fame", calling him the "most annoying pooch they couldn't kill." IGN editor Lucas M. Thomas listed the dog as a character he would like to see in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, calling him the most despised animal character in Nintendo history. GamesRadar listed him as the most annoying sidekick ever, discussing how as opposed to introducing interesting characters, they used the dog as a character who would mock their failures. However, they added that without him, Duck Hunt would be less of an icon. However, they also listed him as the seventh best canine companion, stating that they think that he is laughing with the player, as opposed to at the player. Cracked listed the dog as the most annoying video game character from an otherwise great game, calling him the single most hated character in video game history. They also listed him as one of Nintendo's best villains, simply stating that he "is an absolute fucker. End of story." Screwattack.com listed the Duck Hunt dog as the "Biggest Douchebag in gaming" and said that "If you've never played Duck Hunt, you just don't understand."
Andy Slaven, author of Video Game Bible: 1985-2002, described Duck Hunt as being a quality game except for the fact that you could not shoot the dog. 1UP.com listed him as the seventh best dog in video games, stating that even though he is annoying, he is ballsy enough to laugh at someone with a loaded rifle. GameDaily listed the dog as the third greatest in-game moment. listed the dog as one of the most unappreciated Nintendo characters. They stated that while dogs are man's best friend, that if the dog from Duck Hunt is man's best friend, they'd hate to meet their enemy. They also included him in their list of characters they wish they could kill, stating that almost everyone they talked to, even dog lovers, wanted to shoot him. In another GameDaily article, they state that the goal of the game was not just to shoot all of the ducks, but to avoid being laughed at by the dog. Nintendo Power listed the dog as one of the things they love to hate, stating that there is not a Duck Hunt player in the world who has not wanted to shoot him. GameSpy listed the dog as the 10th favorite dog in video games, stating that while a dog in real life does not judge its master, the Duck Hunt dog unfortunately is not like that.
UGO.com listed the ability to kill the dog as one of the best video game urban legends, stating that it is one of the few video game urban legends based in actual truth, since players could shoot the dog in the arcade Vs. Duck Hunt. MTV Multiplayer conducted two awards that included the Duck Hunt dog; the "Greatest Video Game Canine" and "Greatest Video Game Animal" awards. The Duck Hunt dog tied for first in the reader poll with four other characters - K.K. Slider from Animal Crossing, Amaterasu from Ōkami, and Sam from Sam & Max. Brian Crecente of Kotaku listed him as his third favourite, stating that the dog's art style and attitude reminded him of Fred Avery cartoons from the 1940s. Humorist Tofuburger listed him as his third favorite as well, stating that anyone who has played Duck Hunt will tell stories of broken TVs, controllers, and NESes due to the dog. Official Nintendo Magazine listed him as the eighth greatest Nintendo moment, describing him as being smug and stating that they loath him. Video game developer Mastiff referenced the Duck Hunt dog in promoting their video game Remington Great American Bird Hunt, stating that Rockford, a dog in the game, will never laugh at players for missing the ducks.
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