Games: Ducked up

 
 

The original poultry shoot ’em up classic, as remembered by Rachel Heavey

As retro games go, you don’t get more nostalgtastic than Duck Hunt, one of the first games out for the NES in 1984. Duck Hunt is a basic, target-shooter style game. Each round the player has ten ducks to hit, three shots for each duck. When the player is feeling confident in her/ his abilities, another mode introduces two ducks at a time on screen. This is the most challenging aspect of the game whereby a lovable dog appears to retrieve the ducks or taunt the player when they escape.

Similarly to every Nintendo game ever created, the whole experience is absolutely adorable. The Mallard ducks flap around, looking cute and making silly noises. The colours are vibrant, friendly and attractive. The score is magical, written by Koji Tondo of Super Mario Bros and Zelda fame. The game was released in a double pack with Super Mario Bros and it acts as the perfect partner. When searching for the princess became too difficult, one could play Duck Hunt for a few minutes of mindless entertainment. The mindlessness only added to the addictiveness, and it’s scary how long you can spend pretend killing pretend ducks in lieu of improving activities such as sleeping or eating.

It is difficult to say whether Duck Hunt would have succeeded without the help of Super Mario Bros video games. The latter are often viewed as a solitary discipline. However, Duck Hunt provided for a more social gaming experience. It came with a neon orange Zapper gun (it originally came in grey but had to be changed to stop people holding up banks with it) which, through the magic of 1980s technology, allowed you to aim at the screen in a way that only caused mild epilepsy.

I remember many fun-filled evenings where my cousins and I passed the Zapper around, partaking in a spot of duck-hunting or clay pigeon shooting. The Zapper gun was also pretty handy for playing ‘Cops and Robbers’ too, but the lead did get in the way ever so slightly.

Duck Hunt is and was a classic, repetitive, simple game. Like a ‘little black dress’; not to everyone’s taste but you cannot deny its timeless allure.

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