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. While the home console version does not allow players to shoot the dog, the arcade version, Vs. Duck Hunt, allows players to shoot the dog 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 Duck Hunt universe is represented by a collectible trophy that consists of two ducks, and its description references both the hunter and the dog from Duck Hunt.
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 Duck Hunt 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 are retro characters like the ducks and dog.
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.
Much like the Ice Climber universe being represented by its titular characters functioning as a playable tag team in Melee and Brawl, the Duck Hunt universe's playable representatives function as a team that is referred to by their home game's name. However, instead of consisting of a duo like the Ice Climbers, Duck Hunt consists of a trio: the hunting dog and a duck fight together, while an off-screen hunter aids them by firing shots with the NES Zapper. Duck Hunt were the final newcomers to be officially revealed.
Three of Duck Hunt's special moves also reference other "Light Gun Series" games contemporary to Duck Hunt. Their neutral special involves a tin can from the "Trick Shot" game mode from Hogan's Alley; their 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 Gunmen.
Duck Hunt are currently ranked 30th out of 55 on the tier list, placing them at the top of the D tier and rendering them the highest ranking mid-tier characters. Duck Hunt's projectile special moves make them capable at stage control and zoning, with Trick Shot being the most useful due to its remote controllable property. They also have a good air game, as their sweetspotted neutral aerial, up aerial and sweetspotted back aerial are capable KOing options, while their forward aerial is useful for edge-guarding and spacing. However, their KO potential is very inconsistent, due to having a very small number of KOing options and because of 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, which leaves Duck Hunt wide open to edge-guarding and forces them to use the 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.
Duck Hunt will return in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as unlockable characters.
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