Some may find the gameplay shallow, having no light gun accessory will not let you play the game, and even if you have the gun, the gun doesn't work all the time.
Released in 1984 for the Famicom in Japan and 1985 on the NES everywhere else, Duck Hunt was one of the first games to use the NES light gun accessory, and boy did it work out well or what? Although today with the newer TVs, the light gun only somewhat works, back in the 80's, Duck Hunt was one hell of a fun time for everyone. It came with the light gun accessory, the NES and Super Mario Brothers. Speaking of which, many people only played Duck Hunt for a little while and then left it to rot, only to play it sometimes while playing the hell out of Super Mario Brothers, which I can understand, but still, Duck Hunt was an amazing game, if a bit shallow.
There isn't really much to talk about, considering it's basically to show what the light gun is capable of, as well as trying to give the NES library a bit of variety...well, in its overall library I guess. But anyway, I feel that what this game does, it does well, but some parts, I felt, couldn't keep up with the technology of today (therefore didn't age too well). I'll explain later, but for now, let's tackle the gameplay.
The gameplay is actually split into two different modes; duck shooting and disc shooting. Before anybody starts thinking "LOOKS THE SAME!!!", well...it sort of does, but at the same time, they're a bit different from one another. The ducks move around the screen in a sort of random pattern, but they always end up flying to the top of the screen if you don't shoot them for a while, whereas the discs just go in a sort of arc, but going forwards. Either way, you have to shoot the target by first pointing the gun towards the target, then pulling the trigger. You have three shots, and two targets, so you can only really bugger up once. The aim of each level is to shoot a certain amount of ducks, which increases as you go further. Not only does the minimum requirement of duck killings or disc shattering increases, but so does the speed of the targets' movements. You have to be one hell of a sharp shooter to get through the game further than, oh say...level 20? But hey, it's like the arcade shooters you find in arcades; plays like them and feels like them. It's also seemingly endless, and gets harder. I believe there's a level that's not intended to be beaten, and as such, you can't actually beat it. Sounds like a simple, fun game that can be very addicting.
However, the controls are random for the gun. It wasn't nearly as bad when it was released since the light gun was very compatible with the TVs made in the 80's and it was joyous fun to shoot ducks and discs back then, however it's a bit of a hassle right now in 2008. Depending on your TV and the condition of your light gun, some shots either won't connect with the target, or won't even fire. At times, it will work, but other times, it won't. And trust me, that dog gets really annoying. STOP LAUGHING AT ME!
Yeah, your own dog laughs at you if you miss both ducks. But if you shoot one or both ducks, he holds them up for you. It gets rather annoying hearing him laugh at you, but at least the rest of the sound effects are done well, and the one music track that plays when you shoot a duck or two is both catchy and well done for the time. The visuals are quite good too, with the trees surprisingly detailed for 1984. Actually, all the foregrounds are detailed for the time, while the sprites just plain looked amazing and like what they're supposed to resemble (which I think is a big thing then considering it was made a bit after the Atari 2600's last games, which had...interesting...visuals that barely resembled what they're supposed to be). The ducks look like ducks (well, they're not usually purple bodied, but hey, at least they're trying) and your dog looks like...well, a dog. Can't get any more simple than that.
So...buy or pass? Can't really say because nowadays, the light guns are a real pain to deal with, and if they're not working because of your TV or because the light gun itself is screwy, it's not worth playing the game. Do a bit of dusting if you have Duck Hunt along with a light gun...just check it works first. But all in all, great game! Fine arcade shooting action right here folks!
Gameplay - 9/10 - Simple, but it gets the job done. Feels shallow to some though.
Graphics - 5/5 - Well... It's one of the first 8-bit games and it looks very good for then. Not much else to say.
Sound - 4.5/5 - Simple, working, sounds good for early-mid-80's 8-bit audio. That dog's laugh will get on your nerves though.
Control - 3/5 - At times, the gun has either delayed controls, doesn't work or both, depending on the TV, but it's at least more interesting than using the controller.
Overall - 4/5 - The light gun accessory barely works with these newer TVs, which is quite inconvenient when you're playing this classic game.