Duck Hunt

Year: 1985
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Shooting – Zapper

Duck hunt is a classic. Let’s get that out of the way right now. The reason that Duck Hunt is a classic really doesn’t have a lot to do with how good the game is, but rather the fact that, for most of us, it was the only reason that our NES came bundled with a Zapper.

One duck or two?
Guns don’t kill people, at least not in early NES games. They kill ducks, which are actually more endearing than a lot of people.

The dog mocks my squeamishness.

I have known, since I was a child, that ducks were a thing that was shot and eaten, but I never really thought too hard on it, mostly because I liked ducks. I was a duck fan. We would go to the park, and I would give the ducks bread. The ducks were on my side. They were my friends. Also they were all wearing dog masks, which is pretty damn ninja-sneaky if you ask me. Actually seeing a duck shot would probably have resulted in me voiding my stomach and/or bowel contents.When I was a little kid, I didn’t want to shoot ducks. Not for real anyway. I did that thing that I’m pretty sure most kids do where they pretend their finger is a gun, then shoot everything in sight. There was a short list of things I did not shoot, though. Cats, teachers and ducks were on this list (you might notice that “babies” are conspicuously absent from this list; more on that some other time).

* you can control ducks with the controller in port 1. It’s IN THE MANUAL!

But in a video game, ducks were fair game! Duck Hunt was my bread and butter. How much did I play Duck Hunt? Well, I don’t remember scores, but I remember enough to know that, by the end of my Nintendo days,  I primarily played the Clay Pigeon mode because it was more challenging. Either that, or I got my brother to be the duck* and fly in the most erratic patterns he could.


Sadly, beyond the nostalgia factor, though, there’s really not a lot to this game. You shoot ducks. And? And nothing. Nothing changes. Eventually, the ducks basically fly right off the screen as soon as they show up and you’re not allowed to miss any of them, but there comes a point where the game just can’t get any harder.

Don’t worry – he’s just napping.

I suppose there’s always the self imposed challenge route (shoot from the hip, turn you back until you hear the first quack, don’t shoot until you see “FLY AWAY” on the screen, etc.) but when it comes down to it, this game really doesn’t stand up in any meaningful way to the test of time, which is really a crying shame. In our modern era, flash games tend to be about a thousand times more difficult, engrossing and complex.

John’s Rating: Back when I was a kid, I would have given this a 4.5, no questions asked. Now, I feel it fair to give this game 3.0 out of 5.0, with special consideration for the nostalgia factor.

Dark Jco’s Rating: Who hasn’t played Duck Hunt? Cartoon animals to shoot! Cartoon dogs to taunt you when you fail! The ability to control the duck with the d-pad! Great game! 4.0 out of 5.0.

Lord Nightmare’s Rating: Eventually, I will find a way to get the duck gun to shoot you, laughing dog! Then, oh, then it will be I who am laughing! HA HA HA HA! But seriously, if any other game had come bundled with Super Mario Bros., most of us would be saying, “Duck Hunt what?” 2.5 out of 5.0

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