Game Review

Duck Hunt (1984)



ragemage  Rage Mage Reviews!

Angry Birds, er… I mean Duck Hunt… was the game that no one wanted but everyone played, at least in North America. What began as a repetitive, tedious and boring target shooting arcade game eventually became a repetitive, tedious and boring target shooting home console game.


The only time when a fat, hairy Italian is the better choice over anything else.

Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt came packed together on a single cartridge, and while the first Mario game became synonymous with video games, Duck Hunt became synonymous with your friend’s kid brother with the drippy snot-nose who always wanted to play with you and cried about it if you didn’t let him. Okay, sure, some people owned a copy of just Duck Hunt, and an NES Zapper, and no friends. But if you bought an NES in America in the 80’s, odds are you were forever branded with an inferiority complex, courtesy of the Duck Hunt dog.


Duck Hunt laughs at you. Not with you.

If you accidentally selected Duck Hunt instead of Super Mario Bros., you had to use the NES Zapper, a plastic toy Nintendo convinced kids everywhere was a real gun. The Zapper was my first disappointment in life, for a younger, less ragey me. It wouldn’t let me kill my family and only worked on the TV. Lame.


Not a viable murder weapon.

Duck Hunt is points based. You get a higher score for committing total duck-genocide: wiping out each duck in a round earns you a perfect score. If you fail to slaughter the minimum amount of ducks to pass the round, then you’re a big fat failure and everyone hates you. But don’t worry, though the hit boxes for shooting the ducks are all the size of beach balls, the ducks eventually fly fast enough to prove to you that you’ll never be good at anything, especially shooting ducks in a video game.


Those two words are what they’ll inscribe on your tombstone to summarize your life.

The game contains three different modes, because four modes would’ve given an entire generation clinical depression. The first mode, “Game A”, has you shooting one duck at a time, with a friend (as if you had any) able to control the duck’s movement across the screen. “Game B” ramps up your unsated bloodlust and features two ducks flapping through the air.

Oh and there are 99 rounds of duck shooting. Not that anyone ever reached or beat the 99th round before rage-quitting. That means nobody knows about the secret round after the 99th, the zeroth round, a steaming pile of glitches which shows that even professional developers can’t finish anything they start. So if you wanted to be a video game developer, hey, you’ll fit right in. Offended? Go ahead and don’t finish reading this article. You’ll just prove my point.


And “Game C” made you shoot at clay pigeons. The reason why they weren’t real pigeons is because of a little known lawsuit against Nintendo by the P.O.O.P. association (Pigeons Offended Over Playtime). Think I’m making that up? Pigeons crap over everything.


I Want to Believe

Pigeons aside. Back to the ducks. There are a few people out there who might take offense at shooting birds, and they’re called sissies. Look, you environmental refugees from the 90’s, don’t you know that ducks are the bane of human existence? There’s nothing wrong with shooting ducks.

They’re psychotically evil, twisted creatures of madness.


Donald Duck: Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Norman Bates, Stalin, Mao, Hitler, and Marquis de Sade all rolled into one.

Even Disney knew that. They should, since they once hosted tours for Nazis in Disneyland. Wikipedia that.


Disney short entitled “Der Fuehrer’s Face”. It made me unkampfterble.

Besides, if you’ve played Duck Hunt, you know that the one thing that bothered you the most wasn’t that you were blasting away an entire duck ecosystem. The one thing that bothered you was the fact that you couldn’t shoot the dog. Man’s best friend, my gluteus maximus!  I still see him in my nightmares, laughing at me like the prevailing air of hilarity in a commercial for anti-depressants.


“No matches on eHarmony? Hurr hurr hurr!”

If I had my way, I would grant him immortality, tie him to Mount Everest and make vultures eat his entrails every day, only to have his guts grow back and the birds return and do the same thing again and again and again. I guess the following will have to suffice. Laugh at me will you?



Just like on Scanners!



The 8-Bit Review
visual Visuals: 
That one tree might be pretty and that one bush might look so-so, but it’s still just one tree and one bush. The game had minimal backgrounds. Like, two of them. But hey, at least the best animation in the game was the dog laughing at your pathetic failures. You can feel good about that.

audio Audio:

Oh the Duck Hunt soundtrack is great. All 40 odd seconds of it. Yes, this OST is shorter and still more painful than a root canal. The catchy opening tunes are only underscored by the immeasurable vacuum of silence that waits for the inevitable embarrassment in front of your friends and family as you miss duck after duck after duck. Again, the sound you probably remember most? The dog. Laughing. Scoffing. Deriding. Ridiculing. Scorning. Jeering. Sneering. Taunting. Mocking. Belittling. Other synonyms.

It’s the soundtrack of your existence.

gameplay Gameplay: 5/10
It’s just shooting ducks. What could go wrong? Well, it could be intensely boring. I mean throw in a polar bear or a toucan, or something. Even let me shoot at the dog on round 99. That’d be some incentive. But nope, you just keep shooting at ducks. At least the title isn’t false advertising. In Duck Hunt you hunt duck. You knew exactly what you were getting: something that not even grandma could fake wanting to play with you.

accessibility Accessibility:
It’s easy enough to pick up a gun and shoot at something. That’s ingrained in our deepest instincts, just like avoiding health food and not buying gifts for your friend’s birthday. Duck Hunts controls are primal.

diff Challenge: 6/10
For many, playing Duck Hunt was the first mistake they ever made. No child could beat this. Not even the son of Clint Eastwood. Nobody is that good with a gun. And even if you did beat it, glitches are your reward. Certainly not bragging rights! Chicks don’t care about Duck Hunt. Like you talk to chicks at all anyway…


“Good boy! Now… play dead.”

replay Replayability: 7/10
Duck Hunt is just like eating boogers: it’s best in small doses. At first it’s salty and somewhat refreshing, but consume too much of it and you’ll get sick. Shooting ducks quickly grows laborious and the game doesn’t get difficult enough fast enough. Yet, somehow, like so many of your bad habits, you found yourself clicking on Duck Hunt once more, after you’d grown tired of dying on Super Mario Bros., that is.


Make him as cute as you want. I never forgive.

unique Uniqueness: 4/10
Duck Hunt was not the first shooter game and it wouldn’t be the last. Besides, shooting at animals is far from innovative. We’ve been doing it since the advent of the bow and arrow. And no, pressing the Zapper lightgun up against the tv screen does not help.


pgrade My Personal Grade: 4/10
Is Duck Hunt a “classic”? Yes. Because it’s old. And because everybody played it and got sick of it. Of course, there are some people out there who love Duck Hunt. Let me remind you that there are also people out there who love licking faucet handles in public restrooms. That ought to put things into perspective. Duck Hunt makes me angry. Angry enough to mindlessly shoot at digital ducks. You know what…? Maybe Duck Hunt was the beginning of all my repressed anger and anxiety. Maybe I’m the Mage of Rage that I am today because of Duck Hunt… it’s an irate epiphany.


Aggregated Score: 5.2


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20 replies »

  1. We played it in Italy too, it was together with Super Mario Bros. Anyway I think you have some mind-reading power since I planned to write a post about Duck Hunt and put it on the blog in a couple of days. I think now I will change my plans 😉 I had the orange Zapper with my NES and it seemed to me like a real full-of-details gun and I loved it. On the other hand, as every single human being who ever played DH, I hated that idiot dog and wanted to kill him…

    Liked by 1 person

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