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Woof Woof Woof: Nintendo light gun classic 'Duck Hunt' turns 30 years old

Duck Hunt hit stores in Japan on April 21, 1984
Duck Hunt hit stores in Japan on April 21, 1984

For much of April 21, 2014, the 25th anniversary of the Nintendo Game Boy has been a trending topic, as a generation of gamers wax nostalgic for the granddaddy of portable video game consoles. The bulky black and white dinosaur, however, is not the only notable Nintendo anniversary to celebrate.

Duck Hunt was first released in Japan on April 21, 1984 for the Nintendo Family Computer, also know as the Famicom. Challenging gamers to shoot an ongoing series of hyperactive ducks using a light pistol, the game served as both a challenge and a point of frustration for gamers across the globe.

"Duck Hunt was one of the most frustrating games I encountered as a child," recalled world record holding gamer Elizabeth Leffler of Iowa. "I had such a hard time getting very far and every time the dog would snicker at me when I missed would infuriate me even more."

While fast moving birds and a snarky hunting dog managed to combine for a serious high score challenge, some experts pin the success of Duck Hunt on the simplicity of the concept itself.

"Duck Hunt was great because everyone in the family could figure out how to pull a trigger," stated Rob McCallum, director of upcoming documentary film The NES Club. "We all became duck hunters between Christmas morning and New Year's Eve."

Other gamers found their way around the challenge in their own unique ways. As the Nintendo Entertainment System brought Duck Hunt to America, gamers found ways to increase the quota on their hunting trips.

"Christmas Day, 1985. I tore open the lone present under the tree to reveal the glory that was the NES Deluxe Set," recalled Blair Herter of Attack of the Show! and X-Play fame. "Among the many, many significant plot points in my life story that were first written on that day was this gem: if you stand next to the TV and hold the Zapper at a 45-degree angle you can kill everything onscreen with terrifying accuracy. Yes, friends, it was on the fateful day that I learned my very first video game cheat."

Herter was not the only notable video game personality who openly admitted to bucking the system on this NES classic.

"It became the first game where I would recklessly cheat," proclaimed Chris Wiseman, GameStop TV's follically famous Captain Redbeard. "Holding the Zapper less than an inch up to the screen, any member of my household would know I was playing Duck Hunt because they could hear the familiar ding of the plastic gun repeatedly hitting the television screen."

Despite the frustrating canine and variety of unique methods of running up high scores, gamers say they look back fondly on Duck Hunt as it hits the big 3-0."

As an adult I've grown to really enjoy that game," Leffler added. "Every time the dog snickers now, it's less of a knife in my side and more of a happy reminder of days gone by."

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