Duck Hunt

Reviewed by Martin Henely, Posted on 2007-11-01


Developer: Intelligent Systems Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: October 1, 1985 Also On: None

The most common game in the history of gaming is the Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt pairing. Indeed, just a couple days ago, I saw a copy of it in a Gamecrazy for a quarter. Super Mario Bros. is regarded as a classic, and rightfully so. Duck Hunt is also regarded by many as a classic, but I must look at that fact and ask, why?

Fans of games like Halo or Medal of Honor would probably never imagine that FPSs have been around since the very beginning. Indeed, some even exist on the Atari 2600. Duck Hunt is revolutionary though in that you could actually hold the gun instead of having to simulate it using a controller. However, Duck Hunt sadly isn't much of a game.

The graphics on Duck Hunt are repetitive. There are a whopping three screens to the game, the title screen and two others, one for the game mode where you're shooting ducks and one for the game mode where you're clay shooting. The title screen is a typical first-generation title screen, a title and the options on a black background, but title screens don't have to be fancy. For the duck hunting, you have an open field with a road, a little bit of grass, and a tree and a bush all in very simplistic graphics. The ducks themselves look pretty good for an early era Nintendo game. There is a little dog who will react to whether you hit the duck/ducks or not also, but the graphical effects of that are unimpressive as well. The clay shooting screen isn't significantly more detailed than that. Overall, the graphics are simplistic, even compared to the game it was commonly released with, Super Mario Bros., and much better could have been done with a little bit more development time.

As for sound, can we say virtually nonexistent? There is an unmemorable song that plays on the title screen, and when you're shooting at the ducks or the clay shots you can hear them flying through the use of generic sound effects. When hunting ducks, there are two possible effects after a set depending on whether you hit the ducks or not, but both of them are the same every time their condition is met, and neither contains impressive sound. Once again, Super Mario Bros. goes to show that significantly better could have been accomplished.

These two things would be forgivable though if there were any depth whatsoever to the gameplay, but there isn't. Regardless of whether you're hunting ducks or clay shots, you basically just hold the gun and shoot at the things, there's an interlude depending on whether you failed or succeeded at hitting everything within three shots, and then you shoot at the things again, and so on until you complete a round, at which point you will move on to the next round if you hit enough of the ducks/clay shots to qualify for it. It should also be noted that there is a time limit before the duck flies off or the clay shot gets out of range. The things get slightly more difficult to hit as you get into the later levels, but the game is so repetitive that you likely won't be able to overcome your boredom to get to that point, particularly since the gun can work at point blank range to the screen allowing for very low difficulty progression, particularly in one duck mode. About the only reprieve is to sit farther back to challenge yourself or possibly having a second player manually contol the ducks for a battle of the wits.

Given what I've said already, it probably won't surprise you that I don't think this game has any replay value. Indeed, if it weren't for this game being lumped with a very good platformer, I'd say don't bother with it at all unless you're a collector. Indeed, it is not worth paying for a Duck Hunt solo cart, which, being rarer than the Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt combo pack, would be more expensive. This game is awarded cult classic status that, quite frankly, it doesn't deserve.

Graphics: 5
Sound: 5
Gameplay: 5
Creativity: 5
Replay Value/Game Length: 4
Final: 4.9
Written by Martin Review Guide

Reviewed by Martin Henely