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Duck Hunt is a 1968 electro-mechanical arcade shooter game produced by Sega. A 25-cent video projection game, it features 10 animated ducks flying on a screen from left to right which disappear when shot with the attached shotgun controller.
The player receives ten shots, and the shot ducks are framed in a duck hunting score. Shooting the shot gun and hitting a duck produces a sound effect. The game dispenses a perforated computer card-style ticket showing shooting accuracy and score when game is finished which could be used for prizes or as a permanent record of the player's score. Additionally, the game could be set to give a free game for a perfect score.
It resembles a first-person light-gun shooter video game, but is in fact a video projection electro-mechanical (EM) game, using rear image projection in a manner similar to a zoetrope to produce moving animations on a screen.
This was the first electronic arcade game with animated targets displayed on a screen, in contrast to earlier EM arcade games that displayed actual physical static targets. This gave Duck Hunt the appearance of a video game, several years before the first true video games arrived in the arcades (Computer Space and Pong). Duck Hunt thus anticipated the kind of light-gun shooter video games that would later appear in the 1970s, and was the first electronic arcade game to display a first-person perspective on a screen. Duck Hunt was later updated by Midway and re-released in January 1973.
In the late 1960s, Japanese companies Kasco (Kansei Seiki Seisakusho Co.) and Sega introduced a new type of electro-mechanical game, video projection games. They looked and played like later arcade video games, but relied on electro-mechanical components to produce sounds and images rather than a CRT display. They used rear video image projection to display moving animations on a video screen. Video projection games became common in arcades of the 1970s. They combined electro-mechanical and video elements, laying the foundations for arcade video games, which adapted cabinet designs and gameplay mechanics from earlier video projection games. They also ocassionally used solid-state electronics for sounds (like Grand Prix, Missile and Night Rider).
After Duck Hunt, Sega produced several more electro-mechanical arcade games based on similar technology, using rear image projection to produce moving animations on a screen. In 1969, Sega released the EM games Grand Prix, a first-person driving/racing game like Kasco's Indy 500 that projects a forward-scrolling road on a screen, and Missile, a first-person vehicle combat simulation that had a moving film strip project targets on screen and a dual-control scheme where two directional buttons move the player tank and a two-way joystick with a fire button shoots and steers missiles onto oncoming planes, which explode when hit; in 1970, Missile was released in North America as S.A.M.I. Sega's Jet Rocket in 1970 was the earliest first-person shooter and combat flight simulator game, with cockpit controls that could move the player aircraft around a landscape displayed on screen and shoot missiles onto targets that explode when hit. In 1972, Sega released Killer Shark, a first-person light gun game known for appearing in the 1975 film Jaws.
The game also may have influenced Nintendo's light-gun shooters. In 1974, Nintendo's arcade light gun shooter Wild Gunman was a video projection EM game that used similar technology, but improved on it by using full-motion video projection to display live-action cowboy opponents on screen. In 1984, Nintendo released their own video game called Duck Hunt, which played similarly to Sega's 1969 electro-mechanical arcade game of the same name.
Duck Hunt may have also influenced Kasco's 1975 arcade game Gun Smoke, a light gun shooter that was the first holographic 3-D game. It was a hit in Japan, selling 6,000 cabinets there, but only 750 cabinets were sold in the US. It was followed by two more holographic Kasco gun games, Samurai and Bank Robber, released between 1975 and 1977, as well as a 1976 Midway clone, Top Gun. The first holographic video games would later be Sega's Time Traveler (1991) and Holosseum (1992).
- Billboard (December 28, 1968), page 33
- Killer Shark: The Undersea Horror Arcade Game from Jaws, D.S. Cohen, About.com
- Kasco and the Electro-Mechanical Golden Age (Interview), Classic Videogame Station ODYSSEY, 2001
- Once Upon a Time on the Screen: Wild West in Computer and Video Games, Academia
- Gun Smoke
- Holograms: A Cultural History, page 179