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Duck Hunt (Japanese: ダックハント, Hepburn: Dakku Hanto) is a 1984 light gun shooter video game developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) video game console. The game was first released in Japan in April 1984, and was released as a launch game for the NES in North America in October 1985, with it also releasing in Europe two years later.

Duck Hunt
North American NES box art of Duck Hunt.
North American box art
Developer(s)Nintendo Research & Development 1
Producer(s)Gunpei Yokoi
Artist(s)Hiroji Kiyotake
Composer(s)Hirokazu Tanaka
Platform(s)NES, Arcade
  • JP: April 21, 1984[1]
  • NA: October 18, 1985
  • EU: August 15, 1987
Genre(s)Light gun shooter, sports
Mode(s)Single-player, Two-Player

In Duck Hunt, players use the NES Zapper to shoot ducks that appear on the television screen. 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.

The game initially received few reviews, but was given mild critical praise.[2][3] Prior to the NES version, Nintendo also made a Duck Hunt game based on Laser Clay Shooting System released in 1976.[4] It was later a pack-in game, paired with Super Mario Bros.; the pack later also included World Class Track Meet. The game was released as a Virtual Console title for the Wii U in 2014.[5]



Duck Hunt offers different game modes, with two focused on shooting ducks (top) and the other focused on shooting clay pigeons (bottom). In all modes, the player has three attempts to shoot the on-screen targets when they appear.

Duck Hunt is a shooter game in which the objective is to shoot moving targets on the television screen in mid-flight. The game is played from a first-person perspective and requires the NES Zapper light gun, which the player aims and fires at the screen. Each round consists of a total of ten targets to shoot. Depending on the game mode the player selects prior to beginning play, one or two targets will appear on the screen at any given time and the player has three shots, or attempts, to hit them before they disappear.[6]

The player is required to successfully shoot a minimum number of targets in order to advance to the next round; failure will result in a game over. The difficulty increases as the player advances to higher rounds; targets will move faster and the minimum number of targets to shoot will increase. The player receives points upon shooting a target and will also receive bonus points for shooting all ten targets in a single round. Duck Hunt keeps track of the players' highest score for all games played in a single session; it is lost, however, upon shutting the game off.

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 fired away from the player's perspective into the distance. In "Game A", one duck will appear on the screen at a time while in "Game B" two ducks will appear at a time.[6] "Game A" allows a second player to control the movement of the flying ducks by using a normal NES controller.[7] The gameplay starts at Round 1 and may continue up to Round 99. If the player completes Round 99, he or she will advance to Round 0, which is a kill screen (in "Game A") where the game behaves erratically, such as targets that move haphazardly or don't appear at all, and eventually ends.[8]

Vs. Duck HuntEdit

Duck Hunt was released as an arcade game in the Nintendo Vs. series in 1984[9] as Vs. Duck Hunt, and is included in the PlayChoice-10 arcade console.[10] The console supports two light guns, allowing two players at once.

Gameplay consists of alternating rounds of Games B and C, with 12 ducks/targets per round instead of 10 and sometimes requires the player to shoot three ducks/targets at a time instead of two. In addition, the player is given a limited number of lives; every duck/target that is not hit costs one life. When all lives are gone, the game ends.

After every second round, a bonus stage is played in which ducks can be shot for points as they fly out of the grass. However, the hunting dog occasionally jumps out, putting himself in the line of fire and creating a distraction. If the player shoots the dog, the bonus stage immediately ends.


The NES Zapper is required for playing Duck Hunt.

Duck Hunt is based on a 1976 electronic toy version titled Beam Gun: Duck Hunt, part of the Beam Gun series.[11] The toy version was designed by Gunpei Yokoi and Masayuki Uemura for Nintendo.[11] Nintendo Research & Development 1 developed both Duck Hunt for the NES and the NES Zapper. The game was supervised by Takehiro Izushi,[12] and was produced by Gunpei Yokoi. The music was composed by Hirokazu Tanaka, who did music for several other Nintendo games at the time.[13] The game's music was represented in the classic games medley on the Video Games Live concert tour.[14] Designer Hiroji Kiyotake created the graphics and characters.[15]


Duck Hunt has been placed in several combination ROM cartridges. In the Action Set configuration of the NES in the late 1980s, Duck Hunt was included with Super Mario Bros.[16] This particular cartridge is found very often in the United States, due to it being included with the purchase of a NES.[16] A Power Set was also available, which included the Action Set, the Power Pad and a 3-in-1 cartridge that included Duck Hunt, World Class Track Meet, and Super Mario Bros.[17]

Duck Hunt was re-released as a downloaded Virtual Console title for the Wii U console in Japan on December 24, 2014, and internationally on December 25. This version is modified to require a Wii Remote controller in place of the NES Zapper to aim and shoot targets on the screen.[5][18]


Review scores
AllGame     [19]
Nintendo World Report7.5/10 (Wii U)[20]

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".[2] Several user groups have rated the game positively. users gave it an 8.7 out of 10,[21] and the GameSpot community gave the Mario-Duck Hunt package a 9.1 out of 10.[3] It was rated the 150th best game made on a Nintendo System in Nintendo Power's Top 200 Games list.[22] IGN also placed the game at number 77 on its "Top 100 NES Games of All Time" feature.[23] Jeremy Parish of USgamer stated that Duck Hunt paired with the NES Zapper "made the NES memorable" and was one of the key factors behind the success of the NES. Parish related Duck Hunt to the Wii Remote of the Wii in that they made their respective consoles more approachable and reach a wider demographic.[24]


Duck Hunt's hunting dog character laughs whenever the player fails to shoot any ducks. The dog is both an infamous and iconic character in gaming.

Duck Hunt features a nameless non-playable hunting dog, known simply as "Dog" according to his collectable trophy in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, and often referred to by the media as the "Duck Hunt Dog" or the "Laughing Dog". The dog accompanies the player in the "Game A" and "Game B" modes, in which he serves to both provoke the ducks and retrieve any fallen ones. The dog is infamous and iconic for laughing at the player whenever the player fails to shoot any of the ducks on screen. The dog has been labelled as "one of the most annoying video game characters ever" by numerous gaming critics and journalists, including IGN, GamesRadar, and ScrewAttack,[25][26][27] and many have expressed the desire to be able to shoot the dog.[28][29][30] Both IGN and Nintendo Power have referred to the dog as something players "love to hate".[31][32]

The dog's perceived "smugness" has helped him appear on several "best of" lists. In their lists for "Top 10 Video Game Dogs", placed the dog seventh, praising his confidence for "laughing at a frustrated human with a loaded rifle",[33] while GameSpy placed the dog in tenth.[29] GameDaily and Official Nintendo Magazine have included the dog in their "Greatest Video Game Moments" lists.[34][35] Brian Crecente of Kotaku listed him as one of his favorite video game dogs, stating that the dog's character design reminded him of Tex Avery cartoons.[30] Video game developer Mastiff referenced the dog in promoting their video game Remington Great American Bird Hunt, stating that Rockford, a dog in the game, will never laugh at players for missing the ducks.[36] listed the ability to kill the dog as one of the best video game urban legends, stating that it is one of the few video game urban legends based in actual truth, since players could shoot the dog in the arcade Vs. Duck Hunt.[37] The dog makes a cameo appearance in the NES game Barker Bill's Trick Shooting (another Zapper game) and he can be shot.[38] In Wii Play (2006) and its sequel Wii Play: Motion (2011) some elements from Duck Hunt and Hogan's Alley are included in the mini-games "Shooting Range" and "Trigger Twist" in which some of the various targets are ducks and cans.

In the 2014 fighting games Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, the dog and one of the ducks appear collectively as playable characters under the name "Duck Hunt", or "Duck Hunt Duo" in PAL releases. Masahiro Sakurai, the games' director, stated that Duck Hunt's commercial success as "the most-sold shooting game in the world" was one of the primary reasons for the team's inclusion.[39] In the games, the Duck Hunt team utilizes multiple attacks related to the NES Zapper, including throwing clay pigeons; kicking an explosive version of the can from Hogan's Alley; being able to summon the cast of Wild Gunman to fire at opponents with their guns; or comically dodging shots fired at opponents from the Zapper.[40][41] The games also feature an unlockable Duck Hunt-themed stage. Both the Duck Hunt team and stage reappear in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

In the 2015 Sony film Pixels, the dog has a cameo appearance, where he is given as a "trophy" by the aliens when Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler) and Ludlow Lamonsoff (Josh Gad) defeat the creatures of the video game Centipede. He stays in the house of an old woman in London.[42]

On September 14, 2017, independent video game company Stress Level Zero released Duck Season, a virtual reality horror game based on Duck Hunt. In the game, the dog serves as an antagonistic serial killer, taking revenge on the player if the player shoots the dog in-game.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "retrodiary: 1 April – 28 April". Retro Gamer. Bournemouth: Imagine Publishing (88): 17. April 2011. ISSN 1742-3155. OCLC 489477015.
  2. ^ a b "Duck Hunt Overview". Allgame. Retrieved 2006-11-20.
  3. ^ a b "Duck Hunt". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 2013-01-23. Retrieved 2006-11-20.
  4. ^ Nintendo Duck Hunt (1976)
  5. ^ a b Justin Haywald (November 5, 2014). "NES Classic Duck Hunt Coming to Wii U". GameSpot. Retrieved November 5, 2014.
  6. ^ a b "'Duck Hunt'". NinDB. Archived from the original on 2010-06-19. Retrieved 2006-11-21.
  7. ^ "Duck Hunt Cheats". IGN. Retrieved 2006-11-21.
  8. ^ "Top 100 NES/Famicom Games List #100-90". Retro and Contemporary Gaming Archives. 2011-08-17.
  9. ^ Duck Hunt at Arcade Vault. Retrieved November 21, 2006.
  10. ^ "PlayChoice History". Playchoice. Archived from the original on 2006-12-10. Retrieved 2006-11-21.
  11. ^ a b Kohler, Chris (27 February 2007). "Video: 1976 Duck Hunt". Wired. Condé Nast. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  12. ^ "Pioneers of the Renaissance". N-Sider. Retrieved 2006-12-11.
  13. ^ "Discography". Sporadic Vacuum. Tanaka, Hirokazu. Archived from the original on June 1, 2011. Retrieved June 1, 2011.
  14. ^ "The Ground Breaking Video Games Live Hits UK Shores". Video Games Live. Retrieved 2006-12-12.
  15. ^ "We Were Drawing Pixel Art With A Famicom Controller". Famicom Disk System: The More You Play It, the More You'll Want to Play! [Disk 1]. Metroid Database. Retrieved November 22, 2012.
  16. ^ a b "Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt". Console Classix. Archived from the original on 2006-12-07. Retrieved 2006-11-25.
  17. ^ "3 in 1 Cartridge". Retrieved 2006-11-25.
  18. ^ Osborn, Alex (December 19, 2014). "Duck Hunt Coming to Wii U Virtual Console on Christmas Day". Nintendo World Report. Retrieved May 31, 2015.
  19. ^ Baker, Christopher Michael. "Duck Hunt". AllGame. Archived from the original on November 14, 2014. Retrieved May 13, 2016.
  20. ^ Webb, Addison (January 8, 2015). "Duck Hunt (Wii U VC) Review Mini". Nintendo World Report. Retrieved May 31, 2015.
  21. ^ "Duck Hunt". Archived from the original on 2011-05-23. Retrieved 2006-11-20.
  22. ^ "NP Top 200". Nintendo Power. 200. February 2006. pp. 58–66.
  23. ^ "Top 100 NES Games of All Time". IGN. Retrieved 2009-10-14.
  24. ^ Parish, Jeremy (January 22, 2014). "Duck Hunt, the Template for Wii's Success". USgamer. Gamer Network.
  25. ^ Pirrello, Phil (2008-06-23). "ACD: Duck Hunt Dog - Stars Feature at IGN". Retrieved 2010-08-05.
  26. ^ "The 12 most annoying sidekicks EVER". GamesRadar. Retrieved 2010-08-05.
  27. ^ "Screwattack's Top 10 douchebags in gaming". ScrewAttack's Top 10. Archived from the original on 2010-07-24. Retrieved 2011-08-16.
  28. ^ Buffa, Chris (2009-05-04). "Gallery and Images". GameDaily. Archived from the original on 2009-05-07. Retrieved 2010-08-06.
  29. ^ a b "National Dog Day: The Top 10 Dogs in Gaming - Page 1". GameSpy. Archived from the original on 2011-06-10. Retrieved 2010-08-06.
  30. ^ a b "And The Award For Greatest Video Game Canine Goes To..." MTV Multiplayer. March 7, 2008.
  31. ^ Thomas, Lucas M. (2007-10-05). "Smash It Up! - The Animal Kingdom - Wii Feature at IGN". Retrieved 2010-08-05.
  32. ^ Nintendo Power 250th issue!. South San Francisco, California: Future US. 2010. p. 50.
  33. ^ Mackey, Bob. "Top 10 Video Game Dogs from". Archived from the original on 2012-11-04. Retrieved 2012-11-04.
  34. ^ Workman, Robert (2008-12-12). "Gallery and Images". GameDaily. Archived from the original on 2009-01-31. Retrieved 2010-08-06.
  35. ^ "Nintendo Feature: 50 Greatest Nintendo Moments: 10-1". Official Nintendo Magazine. 2010-01-08. Retrieved 2010-08-06.
  36. ^ "Mastiff Rights The Wrongs Of Duck Hunt Dog". 2009-11-18. Retrieved 2012-11-04.
  37. ^ Plante, Chris (2009-06-26). "Kill the Dog in Duck Hunt". Archived from the original on 2010-01-30. Retrieved 2010-08-06.
  38. ^ "Video Game Cameos & References". Video Game Cameos & References Database. Retrieved 2006-11-21.
  39. ^ Rollins, Steven (January 2, 2015). "Sakurai Explains Duck Hunt's Inclusion in Smash". Gamnesia. Game Revolution. Retrieved February 2, 2015.
  40. ^ "New Super Smash Bros. Characters Confirmed in Stream". IGN. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
  41. ^ "People Are Starting to Unlock Secret Smash Bros. Characters [Update]". Kotaku. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
  42. ^ Smith, Dave (July 23, 2015). "It's baffling that Nintendo let its treasured characters appear in Adam Sandler's new movie". Business Insider.

External linksEdit