004 - Duck Hunt

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Episode 004


There is no doubt about it, almost thirty-five years since it’s release, Duck Hunt is still a blast today! Offering multiple game modes, it can be played for hours with a friend and never feel boring.  While the “One Duck” mode can be a bit slow to start, it improves vastly after round ten, especially when you realize that a second player can control the ducks!  “Two Duck” mode offers a more challenging (and more fun) version of the first mode, the ducks move faster and appear two at a time, which causes the rounds to go by more quickly.  The third mode, “Clay Shooting”, offers something entirely different, launching clay pigeons for target practice.  There’s nothing more satisfying than zeroing in on a shrinking target, and hitting your mark.  With a little practice, this game makes you feel like a sharpshooter.


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The light gun technology used in the NES Zapper has aged incredibly well.  Plain and simple, it just works.  While it was rereleased on the Wii U virtual console, an on-screen crosshair was added, which oversimplifies the gameplay and takes away from the “aiming a gun” feel of the original.  Though it may be difficult to play this game in it’s original format, it’s worth the hassle and highly recommended.  It requires an NES Zapper or another light gun of equal quality (yes, there are bad light guns), which means you will also need the original cartridge and an NES system.  On top of that you will need to play on a CRT television, as the light gun won’t work properly on an HD TV.  If you can get everything you need, then it doesn’t take long to forget you’re playing a retro game.  This game works just as well as any similar game available today.


Many games today are tossing aside the conventional controller in favor of using the player’s real world actions to control the game.  When we see this level of imersion we think of how far video games have come.  It’s easy to forget that Nintendo was already doing this way back in 1984.  It’s safe to say that Duck Hunt laid a concrete foundation.  It helped to establish Nintendo’s reputation as the company that seeks to deliver a unique playing experience.  It wouldn't be surprising if Nintendo references the success of Duck Hunt frequently when pitching new and unique ideas.  Duck Hunt is not only important as a great game of the past, but also as one that still holds up, over three decades later.

THE VERDICT: The combination of functionality, variety, and simplicity make Duck Hunt an incredibly enjoyable game, and a must, even by today’s standards.  That’s why it’s the first game on our Essential Games List. It’s more than just an essential NES experience; it’s an essential video gaming experience.  Whether you’re looking to revisit your nostalgia from the 80’s or you want to try this game for the first time, Duck Hunt will not disappoint. 


We eatin' good tonight...

We eatin' good tonight...