I am not a hunter. As a general rule, I don’t enjoy guns (with the exception of water guns and Nerf guns). So, it’s a bit odd to think just how MUCH I loved the game Duck Hunt.
It could be that it’s one of the first games that I ever played on the Nintendo. Getting an NES was a major life accomplishment. When I finally acquired the system, it came with Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt.
The gameplay is pretty self explanatory. You had a gun (the iconic NES Zapper) and you used it to hunt ducks. Each round featured 10 ducks, and you had to hit a minimum number to advance to the next level. Fail to do so, and it was game over. However, that wasn’t the worst thing about missing a shot. The worst thing was the <insert your favorite expletive here> hunting dog.
If you never played the game, or if you’ve forgotten, there was an onscreen hunting dog that looked a bit like Muttley.
When you successfully shot a duck, he would pop up from behind the glass with duck in paw, fulfilling his duties as a retriever. When you missed….the little <insert a stronger expletive here> popped up and laughed at you. I swear that I spent just as much time trying to shoot the dog as I did the ducks.
The game also had a skeet shoot mode which replaced the ducks with clay pigeons and didn’t have the dog. Candidly, I always found that version incredibly boring. That’s not to say that it wasn’t well executed, but for a seven year old kid it lacked a certain “Wow Factor.”
The levels of Duck Hunt got more difficult as the game progressed, but that was the only real challenge. The gameplay was simple and repetitive, but no less addictive for all of that.
As a bit of backstory, the game Duck Hunt was based off the 1976 Nintendo toy Beam Gun: Duck Hunt. Designed by the legendary Gunpei Yokoi and Masayuki Uemura, the toy used a light gun and projector. Ducks were projected onto the wall and then you aimed and fired with the light gun.
Here’s a short video showing the toy in action:
And here’s the NES game that was released in 1984: