My first question when I got this title was, “Who is Mastiff?” I checked out there website, and that honestly didn’t help me much. I’ve really never heard of any of the games in their library, with the exception of Top Gun (PS2, DS), but include titles ranging from “Dr. Sudoku” (a Sudoku puzzle game for the DS) to “Major League Eating: The Game” (a game that is centered around one of America’s and Japan’s favorite pastimes… Eating competitions.)
At first glance, Mastiff’s Remington Great American Bird Hunt might bring back memories of playing one of the NES originals, Duck Hunt, a game that for its time, was at the forefront of gaming technology. No other home gaming console has since used a controller similar to Nintendo’s NES Light Zapper since Duck Hunt’s debut. Here is a history lesson for you: Duck Hunt was first introduced in 1976 before the NES console was ever developed, and it was reincarnated for its 1984 release as a pack-in game with the NES console. Since then, none of the consoles that Nintendo has manufactured have supported any similar technology, and the concept of a first-person shooter using an actual gun had fallen by the wayside outside of the arcade… until the Wii was developed.
Bird Hunt is amongst a number of kill-your-furry-friends type games for the Wii, allowing you to go hunting for everything from pheasants to 10-point bucks. After my first few minutes of gameplay, I was disappointed with a couple of things I felt were lacking (but please read on, I was not disappointed with everything.) First off, I was using the Nintendo Wii Zapper accessory, and was hoping for more accurate aiming of the gun. I found that when I moved the pointer away from center, the pointer crosshairs moved more on the screen than I had invoked it to move. There is no calibration feature in the game to correct this, and ultimately, I had to give up my hopes of absolute life like hunting… Standing there in the wilderness, camo-painted, looking over the gun to aim, as if I was out in nature shooting it up and reducing the duck population to endangered-species levels. So, I settled onto the couch. As the game puts a crosshairs on the screen wherever you happen to be pointing, the only party suffering in this relationship was the birds.
Gameplay is split up into three different setups. You can play Tournament style, Versus style, or Hunting Party style. Tournament style allows you to play as a single person in a series of 12 tournaments consisting of 5 rounds each. Each tournament is successively harder, adding additional elements like new weapons, illegal kills, ammo limits, miss limits, and reloading delays, just to name a few. Each round also consists of different targets and different landscapes, presenting obstacles, which mostly consisted of trees, and each tournament successively has larger point requirements to earn Gold, Silver, or Bronze shooting medals.
The range of awarded weapons is limited to a number of different shotguns. I did not find that the weapon choice made a huge difference in gameplay, other than the sound the gun made going off, and the number of shots that you had before reloading, which also didn’t make too much sense, as one of the awarded weapons only allowed two shells. That weapon may have allowed a slight miss to become a hit, but I didn’t find any significant difference. A number of other awards augmented gameplay, allowing for expanded ammo capacity, faster reloading and improved sighting.
Hunting Party style allows a number of people to play on a team in individual rounds. When I started the Hunting Party, I was hoping that it would be like me and my buddies going out into the forest, shotguns in hand, and all of us killing everything in sight. Instead, each person took a turn on their own, allowing points to accumulate for the whole group, similar to the Tournament style.
Versus style gameplay allows you to set up teams to play against one another in simultaneous gameplay. This is truly where I felt the action was. There were no new animals to kill, no new landscapes to hunt in or new weapons or bonuses, but there were other people shooting at the same targets at the same time, and this was on its own, a challenge. It can really annoy you when someone else shoots that turkey in the rear just before you can pick it off. I found myself thinking, “It’s a good thing these guns aren’t real, because I’d-a shot ya fer that!” It was entertaining to say the least, and I found that when playing with a group of people, we were all laughing out loud a lot, and making quite a few crude red-neck jokes at that. It sort-of felt like I was in the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. All we needed was a cooler of Miller Light.
The verdict was in. I played through all of the available levels. My wife got into the action, as did my daughter. We were a whole family of bird-hunting fiends. We had a heck-of-a-good-time doing it to!
Since the Wii remote can be used on its own, or in the Wii Zapper accessory, I gave it a try both ways. I found that I was far more accurate and control was far less awkward using the Wii Zapper accessory, so I do recommend this. But it tends to be cost-prohibitive to go out and buy four of these if you are looking to play with a full party.
The point and shoot technology that Nintendo employs in the Wii, and that this is so well integrated into the Wii system, games using this point and shoot technology seem to have become a dime a dozen. There are numerous titles for the Wii which are similar outdoor sporting games using a similar setup, but I feel Mastiff got it right. They produced an entertaining game that is easy to learn, easy to play, has an element of some difficulty for the more avid gamer. This is a game you can enjoy with your friends and family, regardless of their gaming abilities. Unless you are an electronic-animal-rights advocate, this is definitely a game I recommend you add to your collection to play on your family game night. (And don’t forget the beer.)
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