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Duck Hunt for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) - Great Video Games

Updated on September 24, 2014

The Legendary Duck Hunt - A Great Game in the Hearts of Nintendo Fans

Duck Hunt for the NES is one of the most iconic games for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Pretty much everyone had this game, since it was one of the original 1985 launch titles in North America. It required the NES Zapper Light Gun, and it features exactly what gamers would expect: shooting the crap out of ducks.

That basically sums the game up. If you shoot down enough ducks, you pass on to the next level of game play. It gets progressively harder, but that's about it. Game A sends one duck flying on screen, and Game B sends two. There is a Game C mode where you shoot at clay pigeons - you know - in case shooting down poor, scared, defenseless ducks isn't quite your style. The clay pigeons get smaller as they shoot into the distance, and it always sends out two at a time.

By the by, the clay pigeons are the hardest targets to shoot in the game. Playing Game C usually results in frustration, especially since the Zapper gun was more of a novelty item than a steadfast instrument of video gaming. In other words, the thing was not very accurate. Attempting to shoot ducks or pigeons at distance would just prove incredibly frustrating. Many a Nintendo was kicked due to the light gun.

The Zapper - Necessary for Duck Hunt

Duck Hunt used the Nintendo Zapper Light Gun. There were other games that used this thing, such as Hogan's Alley. All in all, the light gun was a pretty forgettable NES accessory. Oh, and you need an old fashioned CRT television to use one of these.
Duck Hunt used the Nintendo Zapper Light Gun. There were other games that used this thing, such as Hogan's Alley. All in all, the light gun was a pretty forgettable NES accessory. Oh, and you need an old fashioned CRT television to use one of these.

Duck Hunt Gameplay. Isn't It Exciting?

It may surprising for some people to see Duck Hunt in its own box, and on its own cartridge. It really did come this way at first, though. The game is so simple that many people figure it was just a slap-on for Super Mario Brothers cartridges.
It may surprising for some people to see Duck Hunt in its own box, and on its own cartridge. It really did come this way at first, though. The game is so simple that many people figure it was just a slap-on for Super Mario Brothers cartridges.

Duck Hunt - The Most Awesome 5 Minutes of Gaming Ever Spent

Duck Hunt is a pretty awesome game when you first play it. It originally came on its own cartridge, but they eventually began packaging it along with the NES console as a dual cart that also contained Super Mario Brothers. A console that came with a gun was more appealing to 80s kids, I guess. They later began packaging the NES console with the Light Gun and the Power Pad, which was basically just a bunch of buttons that you stepped on. They packaged that last trio of crap with Super Mario Brothers, Duck Hunt, and World Class Track Meet all on a single not-so-exciting cart.

The thing with Duck Hunt is that it eventually gets extremely boring. It's fun for like 5 minutes, and then you basically never want to play it again. You'll spend most of your time trying to shoot that pesky dog. Stop laughing at me! Seriously, what is so funny about the fact that I suck at shooting ducks, dog?

Back in 1985, this game made anyone with a Nintendo look cool. The game really is fun with friends, too. Competing against them is really the whole point. When you're alone, you die of boredom. Switch over to Mario Brothers, please!
Back in 1985, this game made anyone with a Nintendo look cool. The game really is fun with friends, too. Competing against them is really the whole point. When you're alone, you die of boredom. Switch over to Mario Brothers, please!
This stupid dog would always laugh at you when you failed to hit the ducks. What an ass.
This stupid dog would always laugh at you when you failed to hit the ducks. What an ass.

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This is the way most people remember Duck Hunt - as a random game slapped on next to Super Mario Brothers - and one that got fairly boring in 5-10 minutes. People who didn't have a Nintendo yet always thought it was cooler than it really was.
This is the way most people remember Duck Hunt - as a random game slapped on next to Super Mario Brothers - and one that got fairly boring in 5-10 minutes. People who didn't have a Nintendo yet always thought it was cooler than it really was.

How the Nintendo Zapper Light Gun Works

People often wonder how the Zapper Gun works. It was actually a fairly simple design idea. The Zapper is just a photodiode connected to a switch. When the Zapper is absorbing bright white light, it registers a hit. Therefore, whenever you hit the trigger, the screen changes to black for an instant. The areas of the screen where targets are present are white. If the Zapper is pointed at a target, it registers that white light as a hit. That's how the game knows when you've hit something. When there are multiple targets, the game just cycles through each target with a white block until one of them registers a hit. That is how it can tell when you've hit one of multiple targets. Very, very simple stuff.

Consequently, early versions of the Zapper would register a wide range of light sources as "hits." It was possible to point these earlier versions of the gun, with their primitive photodiodes, at a lamp or other bright white light in order to cheat. This way, hits are registered every time you pull the trigger. Yay!

Those pesky clay pigeons are just hell to try and shoot down. I don't think I ever played Game C for more than a minute or two when I was younger. This was just too damn hard. They get SO tiny, too. Hard, hard, hard!
Those pesky clay pigeons are just hell to try and shoot down. I don't think I ever played Game C for more than a minute or two when I was younger. This was just too damn hard. They get SO tiny, too. Hard, hard, hard!

Why Is This Game Great?

Well, we've covered the fact that this game starts to suck when you're playing it alone on a Friday night. Then again, what the hell are you doing alone on a Friday night, anyway? Well, this game is great because it has that super nostalgia Nintendo factor going for it. This game just oozes old school Nintendo charm. Sure, it gets boring, but so does Excitebike. A lot of these early Black Bock NES classics get boring. That doesn't mean they aren't great games - they just need the right frame of mind from the player.

In the case of Duck Hunt, the game is clearly meant for multiple people to have fun around the television with it. It's one of those casual NES classics that brings people together. It's a great game, albeit for very different reasons than games like Super Mario Brothers 3 or Contra.

About That Stupid Dog...

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