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Duck Hunt (NES) artwork

Duck Hunt (NES) review

"Imagine it's 1985. An open field... a gun... a tree... a dog... a laugh in the face... a live duck... now a dead duck... a flash of light. What do these things remind you of? Well, they all have to do with the game, Duck Hunt! If you haven't played this game yet, you had better jump up on the bandwagon of players who know what this classic game is all about! "

Imagine it's 1985. An open field... a gun... a tree... a dog... a laugh in the face... a live duck... now a dead duck... a flash of light. What do these things remind you of? Well, they all have to do with the game, Duck Hunt! If you haven't played this game yet, you had better jump up on the bandwagon of players who know what this classic game is all about!

''Ducks! Ducks! You wanna buy some ducks?! Is your blood red? Are you a potent hunter? All you need is a prime appeal! What about a duck? There's one in every office!'' - Curley Howard, The Three Stooges

A scheme to get people to sign up for a duck hunters' club. Maybe Curley got the presentation a little messed up, there's not exactly a duck in every office (*Hears a quack* Hmmm... maybe there is), but the point is that they had to get people to hunt for their share of ducks. And that's exactly what you have to do in this game -- hunt for ducks! Hence the name... Duck Hunt.

Duck Hunt is the very first NES game to make use of the ''Light Gun.'' The Light Gun is a gun-shaped system accessory that could plug into a standard controller slot and was used to ''shoot'' items and enemies on the screen when playing a Light Gun enabled game. Semi-real weapon and ''target practice'' games, in other words, like the kind you see in arcades a lot.

As the player of Duck Hunt, you are given three choices of play. The first is one duck at a time, the second is two ducks at a time, the third is clay shooting, which has nothing to do with ducks or poultry of any kind. In the duck levels, you'll be given a small area to find ducks, and it's quite ironic that all the areas look the same. You'll have to shoot down a certain quota of the fowls, with three shots allowed for each turn. In each turn, one or two ducks will fly out of the bushes, based on the number of ducks at a time you chose to hunt, and you must shoot the ducks down before they fly away and before you run out of ammo. After a number of turns, if you have collected your quota of ducks, you get to move on to the next round, which will probably be a little tougher then the last one.

The other game choice, the clay shooting, is somewhat similar to the duck hunting, except that you have to shoot clay Frisbees thrown away from you. You still have to collect clay Frisbee quotas to move to the next round, and you still have three bullets per turn. But the clay Frisbees may be a little bit harder to shoot than ducks are, in that they move much faster than the ducks do. The amazing thing is that both the duck shooting and the clay shooting have no endings, they just go on and on until you finally give up or lose.

But no ending is not half as amazing as the dog. It's kind of an awkward jump to get back in to talking about the duck hunt rounds once again, but I'm just saving the best for last, and the dog is the most memorable part of the game. Here's an explanation of how it works: In the duck hunt rounds, there is a dog that follows you around with each round. Whenever you miss a duck or two, the dog jumps up in your face... and he laughs at you! Seriously, he does! And get this... you can't even shoot him back!! Darn that dog, it eventually gets almost just as annoying than dang curly-haired Pepsi girl... except she's scarier.

Lucky for you, the inability to shoot the dog is the only thing that's really much of a problem. What it takes is some good practice shooting to be able to steady your hand and aim at the moving targets you must shoot. Be forewarned, the ducks will get faster as the rounds progress, and you must be a pretty good shooter to be able to gun them down at lightning speed. You'll never have much of a problem otherwise, not with controls anyway, as they are very responsive to your shots.

The graphics aren't the best of its kind, but you do have to remember that Duck Hunt is quite an old game. The dirt is just brown with some black dots. The grass and bushes are light green with a little bit of shade and maybe a few little darkened lines running through it vertically. The dog is very cartoon-like in its look; in fact, if you look at the dog's profile, you could almost swear his snozola belongs to Droopy, that depressed-sounding old cartoon mutt. The ducks are the best-looking items in the whole game. They look almost exactly like... well, some kind of duck. You get the picture.

There is no music to the game, except for a really short tune on the menu screen and a really short tune during the beginning of a game round. But you gotta give these guys credit on the sound effects, because they did one heck of a job, especially for a game as old as this one is. The dog's bark, the ducks' quack, even the flapping of wings, all sound phenomenally good. Of course, due to the NES' little capabilities, the sounds had to be rendered as closely as possible with some simple digitized sounds, so the effects aren't totally perfect, but considering the time period and system capabilities, they sure do one heck of a good job.

There really isn't much to mention on the challenge, else that the game does start out fairly easy and works its way up to a very difficult pace. But it is pretty highly enjoyable, especially with the slow increase in speed and difficulty. The thrill last a little while... that is, if you haven't already gotten a Game Over once or twice. There, I just mentioned a problem with the game, it gets boring after the first Game Over or two. You've already been motivated to continue when you finally reach the tenth round or so, but if you get Game Over after that, it's kind of hard to get yourself hyped up enough to go at another dozen rounds again.

Unfortunately, this game tiredness also applies in the long-term. What I mean by this is that the game gets awfully boring after a little while, and once it gets boring, you may have to practically force yourself to play it once again in the future. When and if you ever regain interest enough to give the game another go, which may take a while to happen in itself, the urge still may not last long, only to be cut short by another period of tiredness of the game.

Ah well, that's just my beef on the game, so you can stop shouting that darn Wendy's gimmick, ''Where's the beef?'' I gave you the beef, but don't get me wrong on this game. I'm not at all saying that it's bad. Duck Hunt definitely ranks under ''classic'' status, and is probably one of the best Light Gun games to hit the market for the NES. You shouldn't have a problem at all finding this game, if you don't already own it; it can be found on its own separate cartridge, as well as on some Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt combo carts you can buy. They're very common, even though they've been out of production for quite some time, so don't worry about having to miss out on this great work of game art, if you want to call it that.

Yes, that is my beef. And my final answer.


Gameplay (7/10): Simple, yet very good, game with the Light Gun touch...
Control (9/10): You'll have to practice your aim, but no worry on game screw-ups.
Graphics (5/10): Decent graphics for its time, though still a little plain and bland.
Sound (7/10): Not much music, but the sound effects are very good for the NES system.
Challenge (Very Good): Slowly increasing in difficulty, this game makes for a great challenge.
Thrill (6/10): The thrill lasts the first few times, but it dies down after that.
Replay (4/10): It may be a little difficult to return to, unless you get a sudden urge.

Overall (6/10): Imperfect as it is, Duck Hunt still ranks in its ''classic'' status.


A word of warning, if you're job includes wrecking houses, Duck Hunt might not make for a good stress reliever. It's mild compared to what you do.

Just some food (beef) for thought.

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Community review by royalranger (Date unavailable)

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