How the the most hated character in video games rose to the top of the Smash heap
To say that Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U has been a huge success for Nintendo would be a fair statement. The handheld version is one of the top ten selling 3DS games and the console version is the fastest selling Wii U game in the US. So what is the reason for the game's success?
Some would say it's the game's mechanics ("Easy to play, but difficult to master"). Others would cite the large and diverse roster being the secret behind the game's success. Others would say it's due to Nintendo's own marketing campaign. Admittedly, all three of those played a part in the game's success. However, I believe the current success can be traced to one character: The Duck Hunt Dog!
Now, if you're around thirty years old, you'll most likely know the significance of this character. If you're not, then let me give some background information. The Duck Hunt Dog was first introduced in the NES pack-in cartridge which included the original Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt. Duck Hunt was rather simplistic when compared to Mario. The game was simply meant to showcase the Zapper. The one thing players remember most? Its infamous mascot... the dog.
When I say infamous, what I really mean is "the most hated video game character of all time"! The beginning of the game establishes him as your helpful canine companion, however, it becomes quite clear that his whole purpose is to mock you and take pleasure in your failures. He does this by showcasing one of the biggest sneers in video game history (accompanied by his unforgettable snickering). Adding to the hatred - shooting him with the zapper, (a reaction done by everyone who played the game) - yielded no results! Although in the arcade version, there was a bonus level that allowed gamers to unleash their pent up animosity on the dog and blast 'em.
Why do I believe that the Duck Hunt Dog is a big part of Smash Bros. success? It's simple... He rekindles a thirty year hatred from gamers. That's right! Now gamers can channel all of it into smacking that character's condescending grin off his face! Just look at the response when it was announced that the Duck Hunt Dog was joining the roster... It was a unanimous: "Finally I can repay you for all the times you mocked me". Friends of mine who were turned off by Brawl (or had never played Smash Bros.) bought this game, just so they could knock that dog off screen. What other character(s) in video games has convinced people to buy a game, just so they beat him up?
Whether Nintendo put the Duck Hunt dog in the game because they knew what a response he would garner, or whether they were scraping the bottom of the barrel for characters - we'll never know. One thing is for sure though, Nintendo struck gold with the revival (and inclusion) of the Duck Hunt Dog.
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