As iconic NES shooter Duck Hunt turns 30, Games Editor Brett Phipps takes us on a zap down memory lane – and reveals why he’s still terrified of Duck Hunt Dog’s laugh to this very day.
When I was two, my uncle sat me down on his lap and we started playing Super Mario Bros. 3. Over the next few years, I became engrossed in his NES library, playing everything he had. When he upgraded to the SNES, I inherited his NES and all of its games, including the NES Zapper and Mario Bros./Duck Hunt double pack.
I don’t remember the first time I played Duck Hunt, but one, consistent memory that sticks in my mind is being absolutely petrified and running to turn off the console every time I missed the ducks. One time I was playing the game on my bed, my mum was putting clothes away by the TV. After missing the ducks I threw the biggest hissy fit and demanded she turned the TV off. It was the first of many Prima Donna moments.
The reason for my outburst and dreaded fear of inaccuracy? I was absolutely petrified of the Duck Hunt Dog’s laugh.
I still can’t fully explain why I was scared. I love dogs and have owned many – ones much bigger than the digital three-inch bastard that gave me nightmares. I’ve been pounced on by German Shepherds and reacted with nothing but cuddles, but if that 8-bit bitch laughed, I couldn’t handle it.
If you haven’t heard the Duck Hunt Dog laugh, then you’ll be pleased to know you can listen to it below, for 10 straight hours.
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I think, to this day, it was the sound design of its laugh. Bald Bull of Punch-Out!! fame used to have the same effect, as did the zombies in Resident Evil 2 on the original PlayStation. There’s something about the low quality of the noise that sent shivers down my spine.
You’d think that the fear would drive me to be better, become one with a gun and never miss a bird, but no. Instead, I chickened out and just stuck with the clay pigeon shooting mode when gaming alone, then switched over to play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Mega Man 2.
It’s safe to say that I was an impressionable young child, and a bit of a scaredy cat.
The only thing that spooked me more than that horrid, judgemental dog was Mr. Blobby, whose googly eyes and freakish voice used to (sometimes quite literally) scare the piss out of me.
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So happy 30th birthday, Duck Hunt Dog, I guess. You’ve lived longer than every dog I’ve had, despite my many, MANY attempts, to shoot you in the face.
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If anyone reading this was also petrified of the Laughing Dog, please let me know on @InverteBrett on Twitter so we can set up a support group.