2014 may have been an important year for many video game franchises such as Dragon Age, Wolfenstein, Smash Bros. and others that made a big splash. If there was one IP that experienced a quiet yet profound resurgence after decades of remaining dormant, however, it’s none other than Duck Hunt.
Duck Hunt arrived as launch title for the NES in North America back in 1985. For this reason, nearly everyone who has fond childhood memories of getting a NES will cherish Duck Hunt in their hearts the same way they do for the likes of Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and Metroid. Obviously the Zapper, the NES light gun peripheral, was the sole reason behind the the popularity of this still fun and charming game. Duck Hunt and the Zapper brought home arcade shooting quite effortlessly, making it a landmark video game release in its own right. If you were to ask my top 5 NES games, then Duck Hunt would always be in it.
Unfortunately for Duck Hunt, Nintendo never quite followed it up. Perhaps for a long time there was no need to, because everything about it was so endlessly replayable that there was no urgency for a sequel. Still, given the consistent fever pitch popularity of light gun video games in arcades and homes throughout the Nineties, a Duck Hunt sequel with better graphics and new modes would have been a very smart move.
For nearly three decades we have been without Duck Hunt, with the original NES release and Zapper being the only way to experience the game with no other convenient alternative. The only presence the IP would have over the years were in the form of brief cameo appearances in Wii Play and a few Nintendo mini-game collections. Towards the end of 2014, however, there was not one but two special moments for this highly popular yet untouched IP.
The first was the announcement of Duck Hunt Duo for 2014’s Super Smash Bros., the annoying snickering dog and his duck sidekick made a big re-debut in the all star roster of Nintendo’s biggest release of last year (which won our coveted Fighting Game of the Year by the way). Seeing those characters come to life in this generation was a beautiful sight for sure.
The next was a port of the original NES release that landed right on Christmas day for the price of just $4.99. Duck Hunt Wii U is more than just an emulation, because it has the Wiimote serve as the Zapper’s substitute to smoothly recreate the original shooting action just as we remember it. The Wii controller allows fans to experience the game within the comfort of their HD equipment, and gives younger players a chance to get hooked as well. Word on the street is that it’s currently the best selling title on the North American eShop, if French publication Nintendo World is to be believed.
2015 marks the 30th anniversary of the North American launch of the NES, Super Mario Bros. and of course Duck Hunt. While Duck Hunt may have only just made a presence towards the end of 2014, it’s still clear from fan response that gamers still very much care about it. Star Fox Wii U and Zelda Wii U are going to be bliss, but the announcement of a Duck Hunt sequel would just be the sweetest cherry on the cake.