Video Game Thoughts: Super Mario Bros. & Duck Hunt

Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt were the first games (released in 1985) for the Nintendo Entertainment System by Nintendo. These games began it all for me. My parents had rented the regular Nintendo a few times, but they wouldn’t buy one. My mom was against it. That changed when one of my dad’s coworkers was selling one cheap. Apparently, he had bought it as a surprise gift for his kids, but they weren’t interested in it. My dad got a good deal on it. I remember being so excited when I saw my dad with it. My mom was not happy, but she wasn’t going to overrule my dad.

The game console came with the free Super Mario Bros. / Duck Hunt combo game. We had so much fun that first night. My mom didn’t play much because she had to work nights, but my dad, sister, and I all played late into the night. We were all pretty bad at the game. After playing several hours, we barely got to the second “world”, with the water levels. That’s where we got stuck. I continued to play whenever the TV was free. None of my toys could compare to the interactivity of this game. I was the the only one in our family to beat Super Mario Bros. None of the others had enough interest.

Super Mario Bros. was a platformer game. The goal in each level was just to get to the end in any way possible. The player could collect coins to gain new lives and defeat enemies to gain points, but getting to the end of the level was the only way to progress. Even for an old game there was a wide variety of enemies to defeat and worlds to explore. This game kept me occupied for a long, long time. That was a good thing because these games were expensive. I didn’t get allowance at that age, so I had to rely on birthday and Christmas presents.

Duck Hunt was more of a mini-game than a full game. Well, there were three mini-games: clay shooting and two modes of the eponymous duck hunting. All the mini-games took advantage of the included light gun Zapper to shoot targets. In clay shooting, these oval, pink pieces of clay were launched into the air. The player had to shoot them down. I think the player had limited shots per round. At the start it might just be one piece of clay, but later rounds could have maybe five pieces that all had to be hit accurately before they went out of range. Later rounds also sped up the speed of the clay to make it even more difficult. If the player didn’t hit all the clay pieces, they lost and had to start over.

In the duck hunting mini-game, a hunting dog would scare ducks into the air, which the player had to shoot down. Again, the player had limited bullets per round. If any ducks got away, the player lost and had to start over. There were a couple versions of this mini-game, but I don’t remember the differences. I think the duck hunting mini-game was much longer than the clay shooting mini-game. I remember practicing a lot until I got to the final level. I think I was able to beat it eventually. I cheated though. I would stand right in front of the TV, so it was almost impossible to miss with the gun.

I was done with Duck Hunt after a few months, but Super Mario Bros. still kept my attention. Even after renting many other games, I still liked Super Mario Bros. more than most of them. I kept learning new things about the game over time. I remember my parents threw a party and invited several of their friends and families. Some of us kids were playing the Nintendo in my parent’s bedroom. They showed me secrets in the game I didn’t even know existed, such as shortcuts to later levels and techniques to get infinite lives.

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