Super Smash Bros. for 3DS hits shelves today, which means today also marks the first time in over 30-years the Duck Hunt Dog has played a major role in a game. Duck Hunt may have been a simple game, but in the three decades since its release, it’s become a much-loved cultural touchstone, so what the heck, here are 10 things you might not know about Duck Hunt and its goddamn snickering mascot…
1) Duck Hunt was a remake of a toy Nintendo made before they even got into video games. Yes, one of the first Nintendo games a lot people ever played was a remake, and the thing it was based on wasn’t even a true video game.
Beam Gun: Duck Hunt was a toy Nintendo produced in 1976 before they got into the whole video game thing. The toy projected duck-shaped lights on the walls of a darkened room which you could then shoot with a zapper-like rifle. Here’s a video of the thing in action…
Kind of looks like it’d be more entertaining for cats than human beings, but apparently Beam Gun: Duck Hunt was successful enough that Nintendo decided to revive the idea in video game form eight years later.
2) The toy version of Duck Hunt was a home port of an arcade machine. The Duck Hunt hole goes even deeper. Beam Gun: Duck Hunt was a home conversion of a 1973 arcade experience called The Laser Clay Shooting System.
The Laser Clay Shooting System was a big, elaborate shooting range-like apparatus Nintendo set up in several unused bowling alleys. Basically, the ducks were projected on a large backdrop using an overhead projector and players shot at them with light guns. So, that random little duck shooting game that came packed with your NES was actually the product of over a decade of refinement and experimentation. Also, now you know why Duck Hunt had that kind of boring clay pigeon shooting mode.
3) Duck Hunt was the original NES pack-in game. Most folks think of Super Mario Bros. as the NES pack-in — Duck Hunt was just an extra little oddity Nintendo tagged onto Mario’s cartridge for some reason. Well, when Nintendo first launched the NES in 1985, it didn’t come with Mario. Instead it came with Duck Hunt and Gyromite (a forgettable game that worked with Nintendo’s goofy/loveable robot buddy R.O.B.) So, in other words, more NESes came with Duck Hunt than the iconic Mario.
Gyromite instead of Mario? As usual, the early adopter gets screwed.
4) The creator of the Duck Hunt Dog also created Samus and Wario. Yup, designer Hiroji Kiyotake created the Duck Hunt Dog, badass bounty hunter Samus Aran and the booger obsessed Wario. That’s some impressive range.
Samus and the Duck Hunt Dog have have the same father. DNA works in mysterious ways.
5) The Duck Hunt Dog rode the bench longer than any other Smash Bros. character. The Smash Bros. series has a history of unearthing old, neglected characters, but none had been out of the spotlight for as long as the Duck Hunt Dog. The Dog’s last major starring role was in Duck Hunt, which came out in 1985, which means The Dog spent nearly three decades in the wilderness before getting a spot on the Smash Bros. roster. None of the other characters come even close to having such a long gap in their resumes.