Duck Hunt (ダックハント, Duckhunt), known in PAL regions as Duck Hunt Duo, is the name of a playable tag team composed of the player's hunting dog and a duck from the NES light gun game, Duck Hunt. After ducks made cameos as a trophy in Super Smash Bros. Melee and a sticker in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, both the hunting dog and a duck became playable representatives of the Duck Hunt series as of Super Smash Bros. 4.
Throughout Duck Hunt, the goal is to shoot all of the ducks with a limited amount of bullets and time. By plugging a controller into the player 2 slot in the NES, a duck can be controlled to a limited extent by another player.
The hunter is the playable character in all versions of Duck Hunt and is supposed to represent the player. Accompanying the player is a non-playable scent hound, who flushes out the ducks for the hunter to shoot and picks up any ducks that are shot down by the player. If the player fails to shoot down any ducks, the dog infamously laughs at the player's misfortune before slinking back down into the grass.
Although the home console version of Duck Hunt does not allow players to shoot the dog, the arcade version, Vs. Duck Hunt, actually allows players to do so in the bonus rounds. However, successfully shooting the dog immediately ends the bonus round and yields no points.
Super Smash Bros. Melee marks the debut of the Duck Hunt universe within the Super Smash Bros. series. The universe is represented by a collectible trophy that consists of two ducks, and its description references both the hunting dog and the player as the hunter.
A concept similar to Assist Trophies was considered for Melee, with one example being the ducks from Duck Hunt flying around the stage and interfering with characters. However, the idea was scrapped due to developmental circumstances.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl marks the second appearance of the Duck Hunt universe. Instead of a trophy, the universe is represented with a sticker of a duck. Fittingly, the sticker can only be applied to the Ice Climbers, Mr. Game & Watch, Pit and R.O.B., all of whom debuted in the 1980s like the hunting dog and ducks.
As playable characters
Main article: Duck Hunt (SSB4)
Super Smash Bros. 4 marks both the third appearance of the Duck Hunt universe, and the debut of unlockable representatives for said universe. Masahiro Sakurai stated that the inclusion of playable Duck Hunt representatives was influenced by that respective game's worldwide sales numbers, and his feeling that the Duck Hunt universe had not been viable for such representation until SSB4. Although the Duck Hunt universe's playable representatives, the hunting dog and a duck, fight together as a team, they do not truly fall under the tag team archetype like the Ice Climbers, Olimar, and Rosalina & Luma. Duck Hunt were the final newcomers to be officially revealed for the base version of SSB4.
Three of Duck Hunt's special moves also reference other "Light Gun Series" games contemporary to their home game. Neutral special involves a tin can from the "Trick Shot" game mode in Hogan's Alley, down special involves the gunmen from the NES game Wild Gunman, and their Final Smash collectively involves a flock of ducks from Duck Hunt, the cardboard cutouts from the Hogan's Alley, and the gunmen from Wild Gunman. Outside of these moves, their smash attacks also make use of the NES Zapper.
Duck Hunt's projectiles make them capable at stage control and zoning, with Trick Shot being the most useful because of its remote controllable property. They also have a good air game: sweetspotted neutral aerial, up aerial and sweetspotted back aerial are capable KOing options, while forward aerial is useful for edge-guarding and spacing. However, their KO potential is very inconsistent because of their very small number of KOing options; this is further compounded by their smash attacks' very awkward hitbox placements making them liable to fail at landing all of their hits.
Although Duck Jump is a maneuverable recovery move that grants a decent amount of vertical and horizontal distance, it is slow and unprotected; this leaves Duck Hunt wide open to edge-guarding, and forces them to use Dog's wall jump more often than not. Their reliance on projectiles is also highly ineffective against characters who can counteract them, such as those with reflectors and especially against Rosalina & Luma, who can completely nullify their projectiles with Gravitational Pull.
Despite having a small playerbase, Duck Hunt have nevertheless managed to achieve decent results at regional and national tournaments, thanks to Raito, Brood, You3, ImHip and Dandy Penguin. To reflect this, Duck Hunt are currently ranked 30th out of 55 on the tier list; in addition to placing them at the top of the D tier, this renders them as the highest ranking mid-tier characters.
As playable characters
Main article: Duck Hunt (SSBU)
Duck Hunt return as unlockable characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
In the transition to Ultimate, Duck Hunt's once-infamously unreliable smash attacks connect much more reliably (though their final hits may still fail to connect in rare instances), thus significantly improving their once-notoriously inconsistent KO potential. Each of Duck Hunt's special moves have also gained particular buffs. Trick Shot deals more damage and knockback, travels farther, has less ending lag, and can now be hit while it is in midair. Clay Shooting has improved combo potential, thanks to it keeping the opponent in place upon contact and having less ending lag. Duck Jump can now be canceled with an attack or air dodge after 50 frames, similarly to Winged Pikmin. Lastly, Wild Gunman deals more damage, fires faster, and has less ending lag.
Although Duck Hunt received some nerfs, most notably to their neutral infinite, clean neutral aerial, and down aerial, they have nevertheless managed to attain decent results in competitive play in spite of their small playerbase: Wisdom and Ozone tied for 5th at Paradigm Shift 2019, while Raito and Vintendo placed 5th and 25th, respectively, at EVO 2019.