Monday, January 5, 2015

Ignorant American Gaming: Duck Hunt on Wii-U (Quick Review)

History: Inspired by old, non video based gun games from the arcade that have been around for decades. Duck Hunt was released in 1984 for the Famicom in Japan, and in 1985 on the NES in America. Surprisingly Europe didn't get this game til 1987. The game was also released in arcades with some slight changes including 2 player and bonus rounds.
This was one of the few NES games that required the light gun controller, aka the Zapper. Between this fun controller and the addictive, albeit repetitive gameplay it became a mega hit with a legacy that lasts to this day. Ironically, it has not been consistently referenced or remade/sequelized like other beloved titles in the Nintendo catalog.
Then again not a lot of iconic games from that era didn't get that treatment... and if they did it wasn't until many years later, like Excitebike 64.

Personal History: Played Duck Hunt a ton when I was a kid... like many of you I'm sure. In recent years it's been very infrequent I'd play it. Most recently probably being late high school/early college.

Availability: As stated in the 'History' section it was initially released for the NES and arcades. That's where it stayed for 30 years, until Christmas of 2014 when it was released on the Wii-U Virtual Console for digital download.

Version I Played: See title. Wii-U version.

Review: This will be a quick look at the game seeing as there's not a whole lot to say about it, and because this is suppose to give you a quick idea what the port is like. So if you're someone who doesn't read through my super lengthy reviews... this one's for you... I guess.

Duck Hunt on the Wii-U is about as direct a port as a port can get for a game like this. Depending on your knowledge of gaming tech and modern TVs vs older TVs, you may or may not know that the light gun used in the original game wouldn't work on flat screens of these days. So instead we get to use the Wii remote, which makes sense, and makes me wonder why this wasn't released sooner on the original Wii.
My initial impressions of this port were positive. They didn't change a single thing, as they shouldn't, outside of optimizing it for the Wii remote. The only major difference here is you now have a crosshair on the screen to show where you're pointing. Again, makes sense, it's a little harder to tell where you're blindly pointing a remote than a gun. So while you're playing a classic it does constantly remind you you're playing a modern port... you can see here.

And I didn't mind. A lot of the fun of the original is present. You shoot using the B button underneath the remote to simulate the trigger of the gun. Which means if you have one of those stupid plastic holders for the remote you got with Link's Crossbow Training back in 2007 you're in for a more legitimate experience.
While earlier I wondered why this wasn't released for the original Wii, I'm glad it wasn't released until the Wii-U. I hated the Wii remote feedback, even after the Wii Remote Plus feature was added. It was such a flawed tech that worked so infrequently. But on the Wii-U the feedback is SO MUCH better somehow when using those same remotes. Moving and shooting the ducks as they fly across the screen is a smooth and fun experience because of this.

The biggest downside, though, is what makes it great. This may be years of experience speaking but I found the smooth control and crosshairs to make the game way too easy. What made light gun games, this and future games like Area 51 and Time Crisis, so much fun and so challenging was relying on your aiming skills and not always knowing where the bullet will land. Having the crosshair means you can blow ducks out of the sky with a tiny flick of the wrist without much thought instead of the panic you had with the gun.
On my first run through I got to round 20 in single duck, round 14 in double duck, and around that same area in clay pigeons. Was I having fun? You bet! Was it a little too easy. Maybe.

It doesn't mean it's a bad game. It's a different experience with new technology implemented the best and most efficient way possible. It's also very approachable for people who haven't played this before or haven't played light gun games in general. And for $5 you can't go wrong.

In short, might be a little too easy for experienced gamers because of the small changes, but still fun and worth the small amount of cash it requires to buy.

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