Nintendo Duck Hunt

More iconic than the game itself is the colorful hunting dog that accompanies you.

Before Mario became world famous, Nintendo hedged their bets on a simple shooting game. Duck Hunt was a video game released by Nintendo in 1985, which used the new Light Gun shooter called the NES Zapper. It is one of my favorite Nintendo games.

The game involves having three shots to hit ducks that appear one or two at a time and fly at various speeds. Duck Hunt would become one of the best-selling video games of all time. When playing Duck Hunt you pull the trigger to shoot a duck out of the air. When that trigger is pulled, the TV screen goes entirely black for one frame. The light sensor uses that black screen as a reference point, which helps it account for the wide variety of lighting situations in the rooms where the game is being played.

In the next frame, the area the duck occupied turns white while the rest of the screen remains black. If the light sensor detects light in that second frame, your gun is on target. If the light sensor does not, the dog is going to laugh at you. When there are two ducks on the screen, three frames are used.

The game will show a black screen, then a black screen with one of the ducks turned into a white square, and then a third frame with the other target illuminated. The ducks appear one or two at a time, and the player is given three shots to shoot them down. The player receives points upon shooting each duck. If the player shoots the required number of ducks in a single round, the player will advance to the next round; otherwise, the player will receive a game over.

Duck Hunt is based on a 1976 electronic toy version titled Beam Gun: Duck Hunt, part of the Beam Gun series. The toy version was designed by Gunpei Yokoi and Masayuki Uemura for Nintendo. The game was supervised by Takehiro Izushi and was produced by Gunpei Yokoi. The music was composed by Hirokazu Tanaka. Designer Hiroji Kiyotake created the graphics and characters. To win the game, you have to clear all the Rounds through 99. You get more points for a duck kill as the Rounds progress.

Prior to the NES version, Nintendo also made a Duck Hunt game based on the Laser Clay Shooting System[1] released in 1976. Upon release as a video game, Duck Hunt became a major commercial success both for arcades and consoles in the 1980s, helping to popularize light gun video games and selling over 28 million copies worldwide.

More iconic than the game itself is the colorful hunting dog that accompanies you. He has no true name but is often referred to as “hunting dog” or “laughing dog” and he appears in both Game A and Game B mode – Game A have you shooting one duck at a time, and Game B you shoot two ducks at a time, and the final mode, Game C has you shooting two skeet at a time. The hunting dog appears at the beginning of every level, sniffing the ground, and jumps into the grass to weed out the ducks. As you shoot down each duck he appears with the dead duck in hand. His nickname of “laughing dog” stems from the annoying laugh and snicker on his face that happens anytime you let a duck get by.

In 1986, it was the release cartridge with a US Nintendo Console. The initial Deluxe Set included Duck Hunt and Gyromite, a puzzle platformer in which Professor Hector, the main character of the game, has to collect dynamite before the time runs out. Later it was released as a combo with Super Mario Bros. and even later it was released as a three-game combo with World Class Track Meet.

Duck Hunt has three different game modes to choose from. In “Game A” and “Game B”, the targets are flying ducks in a woodland area, and in “Game C” the targets are clay pigeons that are launched away from the player’s perspective into the distance.

  1. The Laser Clay Shooting System is a light gun shooting simulation game created by Nintendo in 1973. The game consisted of an overhead projector that displayed moving targets behind a background; players would fire at the targets with a rifle, in which a mechanism of reflections would determine whether or not the “laser shot” from the rifle hit the target. The concept behind the Laser Clay Shooting System came from Hiroshi Yamauchi, while Gunpei Yokoi was behind the development of the system. It was released in deserted bowling alleys in Japan in 1973; upon release, it was a commercial success. However, the success of the system quickly evaporated as a result of the 1973 oil crisis and the ensuing recession in Japan, which left Nintendo ¥5 billion in debt and on the verge of bankruptcy. In 1974, Yamauchi, in an attempt to revive Nintendo, released a smaller, cheaper version of the Laser Clay Shooting System, titled “Mini Laser Clay”. Deployed mostly in arcades, players shoot moving targets, provided by a 16mm film projector, at an arcade cabinet. This system featured several games and achieved significant success for Nintendo throughout the mid to late 1970s, which helped the company out of its financial situation. [Back]

Further Reading


Gaming History 101
Mental Floss
TV Tropes

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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