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Duck Hunt

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North American box art for Duck Hunt on the NES

Duck Hunt (ダックハント) is a Video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) video game console system in which players use the NES Zapper to shoot ducks on screen for points. The game was developed and published by Nintendo, and was released in 1984 in Japan. The ducks appear one or two at a time, and the player is given three shots to shoot them down.

Duck Hunt was one of the two original pack-in titles for the first release of the game system. The game was not initially reviewed often, but given mediocre critical praise and positive gamer reaction. Prior to the NES version, Nintendo also made a Duck Hunt game based on Laser Clay Shooting System released in 1976.


In Duck Hunt, players utilize the Nintendo Zapper Light Gun that must be plugged into their NES consoles, and attempt to shoot down either ducks or clay pigeons in mid-flight. Duck Hunt was also released as an Arcade game in 1984, and is included in the PlayChoice-10 arcade console.

The game has three modes: one and two-duck variations on the above formula, and a third mode called "clay pigeon shooting". The clay pigeons are much smaller sprites than the ducks, and, in later rounds, require faster Reaction time to shoot down than in comparably numbered duck modes. In Vs. Duck Hunt, Clay Shooting mode appears as the second round with the first round being the two duck variation (the arcade version never had one duck). Also, in Vs. Duck Hunt, the dog appears in the clay shooting round when players miss the clay pigeons. In the NES version, the dog only appears in the duck shooting modes.

Throughout the game, the player is accompanied by a nameless dog that laughs at the player if no duck is hit, and congratulates the player if a duck is hit. Since then, the nameless dog has passed into video gaming folklore. According to urban legend, the dog can be shot, but this is not possible in the console version of the game. The feat of shooting the dog is possible in a bonus round of the game's arcade version, Vs. Duck Hunt. In this situation, the dog can be shot only after the final duck has flown from the screen or been hit. This is quite difficult, as the window of opportunity, timewise, is quite narrow. However, if the player succeeds, the shot turns the dog's face black with powder, his carefree expression immediately turning to one of rage, which is directed at the player with a menacing glare. After briefly exiting the screen, the dog then returns to the foreground, hobbling on crutches, and chides the player by saying, "Ouch, shoot the ducks, not me!" However, players will get no bonus points if they are able to hit the dog. Also, there have been several unofficial remakes in which the player is able to shoot the dog. The nameless dog makes a cameo appearance in the NES game Barker Bill's Trick Shooting (another Zapper game) and he can be shot.

While Duck Hunt does not have a traditional multiplayer mode, the manual states that a second player may plug in a standard NES controller in the other controller port and control the duck that appears. This option was only possible in the one duck mode, and could not be done with the clay pigeons.


Nintendo Research & Development 1 created the game. They also developed the Light Gun used in Duck Hunt. The game was supervised by Takehiro Izushi, and was produced by Gunpei Yokoi.

Packaging and music[edit]


Duck Hunt has been placed in several combination cartridges. In the original Action Set configuration of the NES in the late 1980s, Duck Hunt was included with Super Mario Bros.. This particular cartridge is found quite often in the United States, due to it being included with the purchase of a NES. If one had purchased the NES system in a bundle with the Power Pad, then Duck Hunt was included on a 3-in-1 cartridge that also included World Class Track Meet and Super Mario Bros.


Because of its release in the mid-80s, Duck Hunt received few reviews. Even today, most critics have not reviewed Duck Hunt. However, Allgame called the game an "attractive but repetitive target shooter" and "utterly mindless ... the game is fun for a short time, but gets old after a few rounds of play." Despite the lack of formal reviews, several user groups have rated the game positively. 1UP.com users gave it an 8.7 out of 10, and the GameSpot community gave the Mario-Duck Hunt package a 9.1 out of 10. It was rated the 150th best game made on a Nintendo System in Nintendo Power's Top 200 Games list.