Duck Hunt is a shooting game for the Nintendo Entertainment System; it came either on its own or as a twofer with Super Mario Bros. (or as a threefer with Super Mario Bros. and World Class Track Meet, though that version is rarer than the others.) The game's concept actually began with a projector-and-light-gun toy produced by Nintendo before their video game-making days. Eight years later, it was made into the NES game as it's known today.
It's a fairly simple game. You have two options. One was going to the target range and shooting at clay pigeons to improve your aim. You could shoot at one or two at a time, and could keep going until you didn't hit as many as the round target required. Almost nobody remembers, or cares, about this part.
No, the main attraction, as you can imagine, is hunting ducks with your trusty hunting dog. Depending on the mode, he would flush out one or two ducks at a time, and you had three shots to nail the ducks before they got away. Later rounds introduced faster ducks that tried to escape more quickly. Until, of course, they wouldn't even appear on the screen, resulting in a Kill Screen.
This game overall is widely remembered for a few reasons. One of the most prominent is that it was a pack-in for most releases of the Nintendo Entertainment System, for even more versions than Super Mario Bros. Eventually the two were combined into one cartridge to be the pack-in game. It was also remembered for the Zapper Light Gun that was required to play, being perhaps the most popular light gun created. It set the standard for making home light gun games for ages.
But most of all, it is remembered to this day because of that... annoying... dog... twitch, twitch. See, whenever you didn't manage to hit a duck, the dog would snigger at you◊ in perhaps the most annoying fashion possible. And it would repeat said sniggering when (not if, when) you didn't take out enough ducks to advance to the next level and it was a Game Over. There's an entire generation of gamers who hate the Duck Hunt dog more than Scrappy-Doo. Seriously. Nearly every single reference or parody that's been done at some point includes shooting the dog. However, the reactions that followed when people found out that he's a Secret Character in the fourth Super Smash Bros. game (even if it's because now you can attack him) indicated a better future for him.
Like many early NES games, it had an expanded arcade version called Vs. Duck Hunt that played a bit differently. For one, you don't have a quota to meet for each level. Instead, you have a number of lives, and failing to shoot one of the ducks results in a lost life. The stages also alternate between ducks and clay pigeons, and the game featured a bonus stage where you had unlimited bullets and simply had to shoot as many ducks as possible. The dog would occasionally appear as well and shooting him would prematurely end the stage (though most players shot him as soon as he appeared anyway).
Was announced for the Wii U's Virtual Console in a November 2014 Nintendo Direct after the unveiling of Duck Hunt's Super Smash Bros. trailer. The port requires use of the Wii Remote to simulate the Zapper.
See also Duck Season, a game that takes heavy inspiration from this game, with a heavy dose of horror.
This game has examples of:
- Anthropomorphic Shift: The dog goes through this where when first starting Duck Hunt, you see him on all fours while sniffing around for ducks. After you miss a duck, he will snicker at you by standing on his hind paws while putting his front paws to his mouth, and if you shoot the ducks, he also stands on his hind legs while holding the ducks in his paws. And, later in Vs. Duck Hunt, during the bonus game, he hops around like Luigi from Super Mario Bros. 2 and after you shoot him, he walks and stands on one hind leg while using crutches like a human would, and gives you an earful for it.
- Ash Face: The dog has this after you shoot him in Vs. Duck Hunt.
- Asymmetric Multiplayer: In "Game A", the first player shoots ducks with the light gun and the second player can control the ducks with the normal controller.
- Bullying a Dragon: The dog doesn't seem to realize that he is mocking the player who holds a gun that can take down ducks. In Vs. Duck Hunt, he will hop around while you shoot ducks and the temptation to shoot him is very strong.
- Cap: The score will wrap around at 999999 back to 0. This will generally be hit around around round 60, well before the kill screen.
- Crosshair Aware: In the Wii U Virtual Console version. The Wii Remote works differently to the NES Zapper, the former requiring a sensor bar, which makes gameplay nearly impossible without a visible reticle.
- Difficulty by Acceleration: The ducks fly faster every level.
- The Dog Bites Back: Well, not the dog, but you, when you finally get to shoot him for all the times he's laughed at you in the bonus stage of Vs. Duck Hunt.
- Even the Dog Is Ashamed: Well, maybe "ashamed" isn't quite the right word...
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The dog doesn't have a name, so most people just refer to him as the "Duck Hunt Dog".
- Gameplay Ally Immortality: The dog is apparently bulletproof, to the disappointment of many a player. In Vs. Duck Hunt, you are able to shoot him.
- Hollywood Healing: If you shoot the dog in vs, he will be given an Ash Face and wind up hobbling on crutches, but he's fully healed afterward.
- Jerkass: The dog, who laughs at you if you miss the ducks.
- Karma Houdini: In the original game, the dog gets no comeuppance for laughing at you.
- Kill Screen: At Level 100 (displayed by the game as "ROUND 0"), the ducks glitch around the screen; they're impossible to hit. And the dog thinks it's funny. Sometimes the ducks don't even show up and the dog laughs three or four times in a row.
- Lesser Star: Aside from the dog, this game is largely remembered for being the other game that came bundled with the NES, with Super Mario Bros. being the main star. Usually in the same cart.
- Light Gun Game: One of the most iconic NES Zapper games.
- No Antagonist: The only thing close to an antagonist is the dog.
- No Sympathy: The dog's mocking laughter casts serious doubt on the title of "Man's Best Friend".
- Scoring Points: But of course, the aim of the game is to get as many points as possible.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Many players have vowed vengeance against the dog who simply laughs at your mistakes.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: Not the dog, but YOU. Keep on shooting ducks, but you will always meet a Game Over, with the dog laughing at you in the end. ALWAYS.
- Shoot the Dog: Literally in Vs. Duck Hunt during the bonus game.
- Spiritual Successor: Wii Play's target practice is obviously based on Duck Hunt. Minus the dog.
- Tech Demo Game: For the NES Zapper peripheral.
- Troll: The dog, of course.
- Too Dumb to Live: The dog doesn't seem too bright by mocking the gun-wielding player and later hopping around among the ducks in Vs. Duck Hunt.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: It's a game revolved around shooting and hunting ducks but you can give the dog what's coming to him in Vs. Duck Hunt.
- Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Unfortunately, shooting the dog in vs costs you big. Many players think it's Worth It though.
- What the Hell, Player?: If you shoot the dog in the bonus round of Vs. Duck Hunt, the round will end immediately, and the dog will appear on crutches and chew you out for it. Of course, if he wasn't hopping around while you were shooting the ducks, he probably wouldn't have gotten shot.
- Wild Take: Look at the ducks' eyes bug out when you shoot them.