Retro Game of the Day! Duck Hunt
Duck Hunt - yes, that Duck Hunt - is today's RGOTD. A genuine Golden Oldie released by Nintendo for their NES, appearing in Japan (and arcades as well) in 1984 and the US as a launch title in 1985/6. Yes, I know - "Duck Hunt, who cares, this game is older than time itself!" Well, that may be so, but it is actually the very first Nintendo game I ever actually played - and I bet that is true of many of the rest of you!
A terribly simple game, and yet - certainly a challenge, Duck Hunt was quite impressive to see on one's TV back in the mid-eighties. After the low-rez Atari years, glorious as they were, this looked a lot more like an actual cartoon, and it was something to behold. I remember getting my NES that holiday season (I am not sure I ever wanted anything else so badly, in my life), frantically hooking the unit up to the TV in the kitchen, loading up the "Duck Hunt Game Pak" and sliding it into the tech, hit the power button and --- flash flash flash. I think it took me a good 10 minutes before I realized that one was supposed to push the whole cartidge down after sliding it in..
It was rather unwieldy to play a light gun game in the kitchen, so we moved the whole setup into the Den (with the big ol' color TV that you had to whack several times when the picture started to blip out). Load up the game, plug in the gun, and.. time to shoot ducks! To be honest, I had no idea what the NES was about when I got mine, no one I knew had one yet (or even talked about it really). The commercial on TV (R.O.B. the Robot coming out of a giant egg) mesmerized me and I knew I must have this. I didn't even know what Super Mario Bros. was for some months, yet-
All that considered, Duck Hunt was pretty cool. The Zapper felt very satisfying to hold and fire, and as noted, the game could be quite challenging. The second mode (clay pigeon shooting) was certainly a nice diversion, but no one hung out in that level too long - the main game was where it was at. Of course, everyone would cheat by holding the gun right up to the television. And don't even get me started about the damned laughing dog..
It's awfully limited (and primitive) to look back at now, but Duck Hunt was a wonderful pack-in for the Deluxe NES set at the time - video games were still "toys," and this felt appropriate. Granted, had I known better, the cheaper "Control Deck" setup with Super Mario Bros. would have ultimately made for a much more enjoyable holiday (Duck Hunt and especially Gyromite - which we will get to another time - both got old rather quickly!) but it's alright, I found out what was up with that game soon enough.
The fist system I got "near" launch, and I was the perfect age to receive it (11 yrs old). Like so many from my generation, the NES really defined my childhood and humble games like Duck Hunt kick-started that passion that I still have with me all these years later.