Games | NES | Duck Hunt

Article by Anthony Rogers? | September 23, 2010

Duck Hunt

Developer: Nintendo
U.S. Release: Fall 1985
Format: NES

Writing about simplistic games can be difficult, as the less there is to describe, the more the dashing author has to flounder about just to reach his word limit. It’s bad enough with something like Pong or Tetris, but at least the abstract nature lends itself to some discussion, if only briefly. Duck Hunt, then, represents an almost unique challenge: gameplay simple enough to describe in three words (“point, and shoot”), yet grounded in reality enough to not really warrant musings about the source of inspiration.

You just... point, and shoot.

Of course everyone knows what Duck Hunt is, and even if you’ve somehow avoided it, you still know what is by virtue of reading the game’s title right now. You use the NES Zapper -- in either O.G. (“original gray”) or safety orange flavors -- to point and shoot digital drakes out of the sky while your damn dog laughs at your inadequacies as a provider when you inevitably let one get away. There’s also a mode that lets you shoot clay discs, which lacks the personality of the main game but is much more PETA-friendly, if for some reason the mindless slaughter of animals isn’t your thing.

More importantly, Duck Hunt was Wii Sports 20 years before the Wii was a twinkle in Satoru Iwata’s eye. Mario was new and exciting, but Duck Hunt was the game that demonstrated the appeal of designing a game that instantly and effectively communicated what it was all about. You just point, and shoot.

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