Blasting waterfowl out of the sky has long been an accepted practice on Nintendo consoles. Everyone remembers trolling for birds in Duck Hunt on the NES, and despite its complete lack of any connection to that long-ago favorite, you can’t help but remember it when sliding Ultimate Duck Hunting into your Wii. Unfortunately, this modern-day simulation won’t make you forget your first virtual marshland exploits any time soon.
It’s almost unfair to compare the two at all, as Ultimate Duck Hunting aims to be a true sim in every way. To that end, it does a decent enough job. You’ll choose from a few different guns and camo (proper selections of both will ensure plenty of carcasses in your trunk on the way home), drop some decoys in the water, then sit behind your duck blind and summon your flying prey to their untimely demise. If nothing else, you’ll never look at a flock of birds flying in the distance quite the same away again.
A faithful canine companion also plays a major role, as his retrieval of your fallen “foes” is the other half of your hunting experience. Once you’ve shot enough birds out of the sky, Rover heads out into the water to snarf ‘em up based upon your location commands. The better he does, the more points you’re awarded to build up his skills and transform him from a whiny ball of fur into a four-pawed duck-killing machine.
Unfortunately, all this shooting and retrieving feels pretty pointless after a few trips to the wilderness. The so-called “career” mode involves nothing more than six different maps for exactly the same activities, devoid of goals to shoot for (no pun intended). You can forge your dog into the perfect beast, but all that gets you is another ride to the same places you’ve already been. We would’ve loved to show off Fido’s skills at a tournament or other competition, but there are none to be found.
Toss in some graphics straight outta 1995, touchy Wiimote controls, and a lack of online multiplayer options, and it’s hard to keep Ultimate Duck Hunting in your sights for long. Any fun you may have teaching Rover to pluck wounded waterfowl out of the water and onto the grill will end fast once you’ve mastered duck calls, shooting, and retrieving. And that won’t take long at all.
Mar 4, 2008