January 29th 2005 Duck Hunt

When I was a kid, the single greatest Nintendo game cartridge was Super Mario Bros. Why? Because not only did it have one of the best side-scrolling Mario-themed games ever made, but it also contained two other gems: Duck Hunt and World Class Track Meet. I only ever got to play World Class Track Meet a handful of times, because the game required a running pad that only my first-grade babysitter owned, but, to my knowledge, it is only one of two console games to combine exercise with videogaming fun (Dance Dance Revolution being the other one, of course—but World Class Track Meet was so much better than DDR). Duck Hunt required an electronic gun; while not everyone was lucky enough to possess this gun, it was much more ubiquitous than the World Class Track Meet running pad. I remember I used to spend a lot of time playing Duck Hunt. How couldn’t you? The game was practically guaranteed classic status as soon as it was released, and I still think of it as one of the best videogames ever made. How can you not have fun shooting pixelated ducks, and having a hunting dog laugh at you every time you miss? I hadn’t played this game in years, but last night, a guy on my hall hooked his Nintendo up, and I played for a while. I made it to the 13th round with a score of 272,600. I was one duck away from 14th round, but that’s life.

In the pantheon of videogames, Duck Hunt stands out as a real original. Male or female, young or old, everyone seems to love this game. Like Tetris, it’s a simple idea that really seems to strike a chord with nearly everyone. It’s almost sad to play this game and realize that games like this aren’t around any more. Gone are the days of pointing an electronic gun at the TV screen. Nintendo tried to bring back the idea with the release of the Super Scope 6 for the Super Nintendo, but the games were just not as much fun as Duck Hunt. (And yes, I am the owner of the Super Scope 6.) Sure, the Super Scope 6 had a wider compatibility range than did the Duck Hunt gun, but I still think that, when they build a museum of videogames, Duck Hunt will be enshrined as one of the best and most original videogames of all time—not to mention the most fun.